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6 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

A grandma loses her parking spot, a bachelor party turns violent and four more strange lawsuits in the news

Perilous Pole

It wasn’t cold feet that cast a pall over Patrick Gallagher’s nuptials—but rather a ruptured bladder. In November 2010, the Lansdale, Pa. resident was celebrating his bachelor party at the Penthouse Club, a gentlemen’s club in Philadelphia. As part of his “Bachelor’s Package,” the club’s dancers allegedly invited him onstage and told him to lie on his back underneath a stripper pole. From there things went badly awry, when a dancer climbed the pole, and reportedly “from a great height…launched herself down onto [Gallagher’s] abdomen.”

The next day, Gallagher was diagnosed with a ruptured bladder, which required surgery, as well as nerve damage in his back and hip. The injured groom is suing the club for negligence and seeking at least $50,000 for medical costs, pain, humiliation and mental anguish.

Prized Poodles

How much is that dog sperm in the window? More than $300,000, if you ask two Pennsylvania women embroiled in a recent lawsuit over some canine genetic material. Linda Blackie and Miriam Thomas, who raise prize-winning standard poodles deposited 122 sperm samples from several of their dogs at the Mount Nittany Veterinary Hospital, reportedly to preserve them for future breeding specimens. But in 2009, according to the plaintiffs’ attorney the cryogenically-frozen samples were mistakenly thawed and destroyed.

Blackie and Thomas argued that, given the dogs’ prize-winning pedigrees, the samples were worth upwards of $300,000. Hospital officials countered that the samples’ quality ranged from “moderately good to extremely poor,” diminishing their value. But a jury sided largely with the plaintiffs, awarding $124,960 to Thomas and $89,760 to Blackie.

Falling Fan

It’s raining basketball fans in Oklahoma City, according to one Tulsa resident and OKC Thunder supporter who allegedly suffered injuries when a fellow spectator fell on him during a game. According to David Jones, he was attending the Thunder’s preseason game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Oct. 12, when “an individual from the balcony level above…fell out of the balcony on to the plaintiff, causing him injuries.”

Jones, who is seeking damages for negligence, claims he “experienced great pain and suffering and has incurred medical bills for medical treatment and lost wages” as a result of the incident.

Cake Conundrum

Two Pennsylvania women are suing a state representative after a local cake-baking competition didn’t end as sweetly as they’d hoped. Last month, LaShae Robinson won $100 for her homemade pineapple upside down cake at a competition hosted by Rep. Jake Wheatley in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. The problem, according to Robinson and her mother, is that fliers for the contest had advertised a $200 prize.

Wheatley claims that the prize money was contingent on the number of entrants. “There was a $10 entry fee,” he said, “and if all slots were paid for, we’d match that $100 with another $100.” According to the representative, even though the flier did not mention this caveat, contestants were informed of it before the competition. The mother and daughter, who are seeking $1,000, spent $94 to file their complaint in small claims court.

Parking Problem

New Yorkers take their parking spots seriously, as exemplified in the case of one 93-year-old grandmother, who is suing her co-op for allegedly ousting her from her spot of more than 30 years. Virginia Rubino says she housed her sea-foam green 1967 Cadillac Coupe convertible in the Seward Park Housing Corp.’s parking garage from 1987 until May of this year, when her son, Richard, took the car for repairs. When Richard tried to return the car, he found that the co-op had given the spot to someone else. According to the co-op’s management, the building removed the vehicle because it had not been moved for two years and because its license and registration were expired.

Rubino says she now pays $550 a month to park her car in another garage, instead of the $100 fee for her former spot. Dissatisfied with the co-op’s offer to put her on the garage’s waiting list—along with several hundred other hopefuls—Rubino is suing the building, seeking unspecified damages and the return of her spot.

Harvard Hoopla

Most parents would be thrilled if their children attended any elite college, but evidently not Gerald and Lily Chow. The Hong Kong couple filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against an education consultant who allegedly falsely promised to get their sons admitted to Harvard University. The Chows paid consultant Michael Zimny and his company IvyAdmit $2.2 million over two years, after he reportedly told them that his tutoring services and well-placed connections would earn their children a spot at the elite school.

Zimny also told the Chows that they should use his company as a middleman when making donations to schools, as there was widespread “embedded racism” against Asian donors, according to their lawsuit. But the Chows claim that they subsequently learned that Zimny had taken at least some of these donations for his own use. Ultimately, neither son ended up at Harvard, although the Boston Globe notes that they are attending “top universities.”

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