More On

5 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

“Poisoned” supermarket pizzas, a New Year’s possum drop and three more strange lawsuits in the news

Poisonous Pizzas

What toppings do you like on your pizza? Pepperoni? Veggies? Toxic carcinogens? A California woman says that the latter is an ingredient in Nestlé S.A.’s frozen pizza brands, and she’s suing the company for $5 million for allegedly “placing profits over public health.”

According to Katie Simpson, Nestlé’s Stouffer’s, DiGiorno and California Pizza Kitchen are “deliberately poisoning” consumers by selling pizzas that include partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, a trans fat. California banned trans fats in restaurants in 2008, but the restriction does not extend to Nestlé’s prepackaged pizzas. Studies have linked the fats to high cholesterol and heart disease; Simpson’s suit also claims that they cause breast, prostate and colorectal cancer; cognitive decline; and type 2 diabetes.

Erotic Exercises

A tough workout is enough to make almost anyone seriously uncomfortable, but one Dallas woman is suing her gym for personal training sessions that allegedly caused her psychological—not physical—distress.  Jamie Johnson claims that two separate personal trainers at LA Fitness forced her to do “sexually suggestive” exercises, and that one sent her an explicit text message.

According to Johnson’s suit, when she asked the trainer why she had to do the exercises, he answered: “So I can see your chest move while you do it.” She is suing the fitness center for deceptive trade practices and negligence, and is seeking lost wages, psychiatric care and out-of-pocket expenses.

Dangerous Dancing

Talk about having two left feet. A New York public relations executive is facing a lawsuit after his dance moves allegedly sent an unwilling partner to the hospital. Cassandra Elmi says that she was attending a party at a New York bar when James Monahan grabbed her while she was en route to the bathroom and forced her to dance with him. Then, in an attempt to dip her, she says, Monahan “slammed her head violently against the marble countertop.”

Elmi says that she needed three stitches following the treacherous tango, but couldn’t get any follow-up medical care because she has no health insurance. She is suing Monahan, his self-owned PR firm and the bar, for allegedly allowing Monahan to become intoxicated and grab her.

Racist Rabbit

A San Diego family is suing Disneyland after an allegedly racist park employee dressed as—what else?—the White Rabbit refused to interact with several of the children in their group. According to Annelia Black, the “Alice in Wonderland” character refused to hold her nephew’s hand, or let the boy hug him or sit on his lap. The rabbit then allegedly tried to pull his hand away from her nine-year-old son. The plaintiffs, who are black, claim that the costumed employee later gave hugs and kisses to Asian and Caucasian children.

When the family complained, Disney reportedly sent them a letter apologizing for the incident, and then offered the family $500 in passes if they agreed to sign a confidential settlement. The Blacks declined because Disney would not tell them if it had fired the offending employee.

Poor Possum

Every New Year’s Eve, millions of Americans gather to watch the famed Times Square Ball drop. And for the past several years, a (presumably smaller) number of people have gathered in the small town of Brasstown, N.C. to watch its annual Possum Drop, in which an opossum was suspended in a clear box, lowered to the ground at midnight and subsequently released.

But now the event is no more, following a legal challenge by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).  The animal rights organization filed a legal challenge last year, arguing that the event constituted animal cruelty and disputing the state’s right to issue a permit to the event’s organizer. A state administrative law judge agreed with PETA last November, and, earlier this week, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission filed to dismiss its appeal in the case, apparently putting an end to the event.

Alanna Byrne

Bio and more articles

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.