8 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

X-rated ice cream, a racist Hooter's receipt and six more strange lawsuits in the news

Frightful Fall

An Illinois girl who went to an amusement park looking for a Halloween scare got more than she bargained for, according to a lawsuit filed by her father. Marian Pieczonka says that his daughter Natalie was attending last year’s Fright Fest event at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill. when a costumed park employee jumped out of a portable toilet and shot the young girl with a squirt gun.

When the character chased her, Natalie fell and suffered scrapes and bruises. Pieczonka is seeking $30,000 from Six Flags, saying that the park improperly instructed employees to frighten and chase patrons, even though its grounds were full of tripping hazards.

Pinching Pennies

They say a penny saved is a penny earned, but retailer Forever 21 has taken that adage too far, according to one Florida lawyer. Carolyn Kellman alleges that she bought a pair of shorts for $14.46 on May 12. But when she subsequently returned the shorts, the clothing store purportedly refunded her only $14.45. In another instance, Kellman says, she bought a skirt for $11.75, but only received $11.56 when she returned it.

Now the lawyer is suing Forever 21 for running a “penny-skimming scheme.” Kellman is seeking class action status for any customers who paid the retailer one extra penny, as well as those who were refunded one penny less. That may be an unlikely proposition: To reach the $15,000 threshold for her suit, Kellman would need 750,000 customers to come forward.

Salty Signage

At first glance, Joe Hirsch’s plan seemed unobjectionable. The Dunwoody, Ga. man simply wanted to participate in the city’s “Adopt-A-Spot” program, in which groups clean up sections of roadway, and are rewarded with a roadside sign proclaiming their name. The catch? Hirsch’s group is entitled: “Dunwoody’s Public Works Director Michael Smith is a $#%@”

When Dunwoody denied his request, Hirsch sued the city for allegedly violating his constitutional rights to due process, equal protection and free speech. The city, however, says that the sign is government speech, not speech protected by the federal or state Constitution.

Sinful Snacks

A pornographic film company has abandoned its efforts to spice up one of America’s sweet treats.  Vermont-based ice cream makers Ben & Jerry’s sued Rodax Distributors and Caballero Video, claiming that the filmmakers’ series “Ben & Cherries” featured titles that infringed on the ice cream maker’s trademarked ice cream names.

In the series, “Boston Cream Pie” became “Boston Cream Thigh”; “Coconut Seven Layer Bar” became “Coconut 7 Lay-Her Bar” and “Peanut Butter Cup” was transformed into “Peanut Butter D-Cup.” Ben & Jerry’s argued that the titles would damage its reputation by creating “confusion, mistake or deception” regarding its trademarks. Last week, the California moviemakers agreed to pull the X-rated films from stores and destroy them.

Fire Fiasco

Matthew Rapp was a fire suppression repairman, but he wasn’t prepared to be set on fire himself. The incident occurred in October 2010, when Rapp was reportedly called to the East China Inn in Batavia, Ill. to fix the restaurant’s fuses. According to Rapp’s lawsuit, he was working on top of a stove when an employee turned on a nearby wok, setting him alight. Rapp’s attorney says the resulting grease burns caused the 25-year-old to miss 21 weeks of work.

Rapp is seeking more than $50,000 in damages from the restaurant. “We feel this case has substantial value given the fact that [Rapp] was set on fire due to an employee’s negligence,” his lawyer said.

Detached Digit

It’s one thing to wake up with a hangover after a night on the town. It’s another to lose a finger during a night of partying. Robert Dyer, a Washington D.C. lawyer, says the trouble began when he attempted to pay his tab at the Georgetown bar Smith Point, and found that he was $18 short of the bar’s $30 minimum for credit card charges. Bartenders reportedly served the inebriated Dyer three vodka shots mixed with Red Bull to make up the difference, although his lawsuit contends that they “should have known that [he] was not in a position…to continue to consume alcohol.”  

When Smith Point employees later tried to eject Dyer from the bar, he stumbled and grabbed onto the front door for support. It was then, according to his lawsuit, that a worker slammed the door on his hand, severing his left pinky finger. Dyer, who only noticed he was missing the appendage when a nearby police officer alerted him to the injury, is suing the bar for at least $500,000 for medical expenses, loss of earnings, permanent disfigurement and lost employment opportunity.

Photo by Silvio Tanaka

Racist Restaurant

When Kisuk Cha and his girlfriend stopped by a New York Hooters to pick up a to-go order, they didn’t expect a side of racism. While in the restaurant, however, the pair reportedly noticed their server and another worker laughing and “gawking at them.” When they received their receipt, they saw that it read “chinx” in the space reserved for the customer’s name.

Cha is now suing the restaurant chain for racial discrimination. “He is haunted by the ridiculing giggles and stares of his persecutor,” his lawsuit reads. “He does not feel welcome at Hooters and indeed questions whether he is welcomed at any non-Korean establishments.” The employee in question has resigned, according to Hooters.


Lax Laborers

Sleeping on the job is probably not a good idea, especially if you work at a nuclear power plant. Clifton Travis, a security guard at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York state, says that his co-workers regularly watch DVDs and play video games during their shifts, allegedly with the permission of plant owner Entergy Corp.

Travis also says that Entergy is improperly storing nuclear waste materials on the site, and that its security system has crashed more than 7,800 times this year alone. He is suing Entergy for $1.5 billion in damages, claiming that he is suffering anxiety over the plant’s security problems. Travis, who took a leave of absence late last year, has reportedly not been allowed to resume work because of his whistleblowing.

 

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