7 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

An alleged “Hobbit” rip-off, a spicy shot of tequila and five more strange lawsuits in the news

Absent Antioxidants

If you are looking to add antioxidants into your diet, drinking a 7-Up is probably not the place to start. But one California man is suing the drink’s maker, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc., claiming that it falsely touted the health benefits of its 7-Up Cherry Antioxidant, Mixed Berry Antioxidant and Pomegranate Antioxidant drinks.

Advertisements and packaging for the supposedly antioxidant-rich drinks featured photos of fruit and blurbs such as “There’s never been a more delicious way to cherry pick your antioxidant!” The drinks, however, contain no fruit or juice. Green, who is seeking class action status for his suit, says he would never have bought the beverages if he knew that the only antioxidant they contained came from added Vitamin E. Meanwhile, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group announced that it will no longer sell the offending products, although it maintains the decision is to maintain consistency across its bands.

Photo credit: Xaime Mendez

Spicy Shot

An Ohio man is suing a local bar for allegedly serving him a shot with an extra kick. When an employee at Adobe Gila’s offered free shots to Brady Bennett and a friend, Bennett says the two men ordered Patron tequila with apple flavoring. Upon taking the shot, however, Bennett’s attorney says that his client “immediately fell to the ground” and that “his nose and his mouth and his lungs felt as though they were on fire.”

According to Bennett’s suit, when paramedics arrived, a bar employee told them that the shot contained ghost pepper extract from the Naga Bhut Jolokia chili pepper, which is 10,000 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. He is suing the bar for medical expenses and compensatory and punitive damages. The bar owner says that, although the shot may have contained hot sauce, the restaurant does not have ghost pepper extract on its premises.

Santa Song

Thanksgiving is a little more than a week away, but Ukranian singer Aza is kicking off the holiday season early with a lawsuit claiming that the chart-topping pop hit “Call Me Maybe,” is a rip-off of her tune “Hunky Santa.”

According to Aza, Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen’s lyrics are “identical or substantially similar,” to those of Aza’s ostensibly Christmas-themed song. “When I first listened to it on the radio while driving my car, I almost got into an accident. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” the Ukranian songstress told E! News. She has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Jepsen, her cowriters and her record label, seeking unspecified damages and a court order prohibiting the distribution or sale of “Call Me Maybe.”

Hidden Hole

A woman who says she injured her ankle when she stepped in a hole in a public park is suing the city of Portsmouth, N.H. for $750,000. Mary Reed claims that she suffered “serious and permanent injuries” when she stepped into a hole that was at least a foot deep, 2 ½ feet wide and “indistinguishable from the rest of the grass in the park.” The city’s attorney counters that the hole was only an inch or two deep and roughly one foot wide.

Nonetheless, Reed is seeking damages for “prolonged and continuing pain and suffering, severe emotional distress and mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, prolonged and repeated medical procedures, medical expenses and permanent impairment.” Her husband is also suing for unspecified damages, claiming that the mishap cost him “the society, companionship, services and consortium of his injured wife.”

 

Texting Team

There are probably many Buffalo Bills fans who don’t want constant reminders of the progress (or lack thereof) of their 3-6 football team, but not many have gone as far as Jerry Wojcik, who is suing the team for sending him excessive text messages. Wojcik signed up for a Bills program that would send him three to five text alerts per week for a year. But the team allegedly sent the fan six messages in one week, and seven messages some time later.

These three extra communications prompted Wojcik to file a lawsuit against the team, claiming that it violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. He is seeking class action status for his suit, and asking for damages of $500 per extra call for negligent violations and up to $1,500 per call for willful violations.

Hobbit Hubbub

The producers of the upcoming film “The Hobbit” are turning their attention from Smaug and Bilbo to do battle with the B-movie studio that is allegedly trying to mislead moviegoers with a similar film.

The first installment of director Peter Jackson’s much-hyped “Hobbit” film series is set to premiere on Dec. 14. Meanwhile, Global Asylum, a small studio known for low-budget, direct-to-video productions, is releasing its “Age of the Hobbits” film on Dec. 11.

The similarities between the two aren’t immediately evident: According to Global Asylum’s website, “Age of the Hobbits” tells the story of a "last village of clever, peace-loving Hobbits…attacked and enslaved by Java Men, komodo-worshiping, dragon-riding cannibals." But the producers of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” claim that the smaller studio is releasing the film to capitalize on “the popularity and goodwill associated with the Tolkien novels,” and that the film infringes on the trademarked word “hobbits.”

Litigious Looter

Talk about adding insult to (literal) injury. On Jan. 3, 90-year-old California man Jay Leone was reportedly attacked in his home by an intruder who kicked in his door, tied him up and held him captive at gunpoint. Leone convinced the man to let him use the bathroom, and then retrieved a gun that he had stashed there. In the ensuing shootout, Leone suffered one gunshot wound to the face and the alleged burglar, Samuel Cutrufelli, was hit by several bullets.

Cutrufelli is now suing the WWII veteran for shooting him “negligently.” According to his lawsuit, he has suffered “great bodily injury and other financial damage, including loss of [his] home, and also the dissolution of [his] marriage.” In the separate criminal case, a jury found Cutrufelli guilty of charges including attempted murder, robbery and assault with a semiautomatic firearm.

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