6 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

An early morning wake-up call, an offensive phone book listing and four more strange lawsuits in the news

Aggravating Alarm

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man stressed out, cranky and litigious? That’s apparently the case for one disgruntled vacationer, who is suing a cruise line for subjecting him to an early morning wake-up call. According to David Bookbinder, he and his 86-year-old brother were on a seven-day Mediterranean cruise, when the ship’s staff told passengers they would have to be ready by 5 a.m. one morning so they could clear immigration prior to docking in Israel’s Eilat port.

But Bookbinder says that the cruise line actually woke passengers up early to sell more shore excursions. He claims that the stress of the early morning caused his brother, who suffers from numerous health problems, immense aggravation and stress and “ruined” the pair’s holiday. He sued Thomson Cruises and booking agent Thomas Cook, seeking a full $2,500 refund for the cruise, until a judge dismissed the suit earlier this month.

Misleading Met?

It’s no secret that New York is an expensive city. But one attraction that locals and tourists alike can enjoy for free is the Metropolitan Museum of Art—if they read the fine print, that is. Two museum members, Theodore Grunewald and Patricia Nicholson, are suing the famed institution, claiming that it has tricked millions of visitors into paying admission fees, even though entry is free five days a week.

Under the terms of its lease, the museum must offer the must offer the free admission in exchange for its use of city land. The Met’s ticket booths and website list a regular admission price of $25, and note in smaller letters that the fee is “recommended.” Grunewald and Nicholson say that they commissioned a survey showing that most people do not know that the museum is free. In response, the museum cited its own survey, which concluded that most visitors do understand the “recommended admission” policy.

Roadkill Restaurant

Few words in the English language are more unappetizing than “animal carcass removal.” So when restaurant owner Hunter Lacey saw that a phone book company had listed his establishment, Bar 3 Bar-B-Q, in that section, he was understandably upset.

Lacey claims that the misplaced listing appeared after he declined to buy an ad in the phone book. The entry subsequently drew national attention when Jay Leno referenced it on the Tonight Show in 2011. Bar 3 Bar-B-Q’s parent company, Big Sky Beverage Inc. sued Dex Media Inc., the company behind the phone book, arguing that the erroneous entry had cost the restaurant customers and subjected it to ridicule. Dex says that the entry was published in error, not as retaliation for Lacey’s refusal to buy ad space. The two parties reportedly settled the case last week.

Miffed Manager

“Giving birth” is not part of your typical job description, but one New York woman is suing her supervisors for allegedly forcing her to deliver her baby while on the clock. Tara Tan, who worked as a manager at New York’s The Standard Hotel for four years, says that her bosses denied her maternity leave, regularly forced her to work 80 hours a week and berated her for her age and weight.

Finally, on April 30, when she went into labor with her second child, Tan claims that her superiors left her alone in a hotel room for almost two hours while she was in labor, and then escorted her out through a side door after she gave birth. Several months later, she was fired for allegedly stealing hotel property. Tan claims that the hotel actually fired her because, as a 42-year-old Malaysian woman, she did not fit its “trendy” look. She has filed a $10 million discrimination suit against the hotel.

Fairway Fracas

It’s raining golf balls for one Montana couple, who sued a local country club after one too many balls landed on their lawn. Robert and Katherine Brady, who own a house along Hamilton Golf Club’s 18th fairway, say that their yard was pelted by nearly 1,300 golf balls in one season. They sued the club and Ravalli County, Mo. for trespass, nuisance and breach of duty, arguing that the course’s layout virtually guarantees that errant balls will land on nearby properties.

U.S. District Judge James Haynes, however, dismissed the suit, ruling that the couple should have known about the potential for falling golf balls when they purchased the house. He also noted that golf balls have been landing on the property for decades; a previous owner, who kept sheep on the land, used to sell the wayward balls back to golfers.  

Not Natural?

Goldfish crackers may be the snack that smiles back, but it’s a safe bet that maker Pepperidge Farm isn’t too happy about a new lawsuit over its claims that the snack food is all natural. Colorado resident Sonya Bolerjack is suing the company for $5 million, claiming that it advertises the cheddar-flavored crackers as “natural,” even though they contain genetically engineered soybeans.

In her complaint, Bolerjack, who is seeking class action status for the suit, contends that “genetically modified soy products contain genes and/or DNA that would not normally be in them, and are thus not natural.” Genetically modified organisms have been making headlines lately, after voters in California voted down Proposition 37, which would have required companies to label foods containing genetically engineered ingredients.

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