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5 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

Garth Brooks turns down “Twister,” Hooters fires a waitress over her hair, and three more strange lawsuits in the news

Freaky Fast

Jimmy John’s is known for touting its “freaky fast delivery,” but that claim could land the company in hot water following a ruling by an Illinois appeals court. Robert Reynolds sued the company and one of its franchises, claiming he broke his leg after a Jimmy John’s driver failed to yield to traffic and crashed into his motorcycle.

Reynolds contends that the sandwich chain is so committed to its 15-minute delivery policy that it failed to train its employees to make such deliveries safely. A lower court dismissed Reynolds’ complaint in January 2012, but the 4th District Appellate Court ruled this month that the motorcyclist can pursue his suit for negligent training and supervision.

Wig Woes

As if we needed more proof that Hooters cares more about its employees’ looks than their brains, a former waitress is suing the restaurant chain for allegedly firing her after she had her head shaved for a craniotomy. In July 2012, Sandra Lupo got a buzz cut when surgeons had to remove a large mass from her brain.

When she tried to return to work, her regional manager reportedly told Lupo that she would have to wear a wig while on the job. When the waitress tried to comply with her boss’s request, however, she found that the wig “caused extreme stress to her body because of the surgery and the healing wound.” She claims that her manager then reduced her hours to the point where she was forced to quit, leaving her ineligible for unemployment. Lupo is now suing the restaurant under the Missouri Human Rights Act, which prevents workplace discrimination based on disability.

Singed Suspect

A Pennsylvania trooper will have to face charges from a man who caught fire after being tasered during a traffic stop. In August 2008, troopers Justin LeMaire and Peter Burghart pursued plaintiff Allen Brown after they saw him driving an unlicensed scooter—sans license plates or helmet—down the Schuylkill Expressway. The chase ended with Brown falling off his scooter, which began leaking gas onto him.

When Brown allegedly resisted arrest, Burghart tasered him, igniting the gasoline and setting him ablaze. Brown sued both officers, claiming that he suffered third-degree burns over roughly one-third of his body. A judge this week denied summary judgment to LeMaire—having previously denied immunity to Burghart. He explained his decision by noting that most officers “surely would not conclude that conduct risking lighting [an unarmed] suspect on fire was an appropriate amount of force.”

Blasphemous Beverages

A former Louisiana assistant football coach is suing his one-time employer for allegedly firing him after he bought a daiquiri shop. Michael Gardner says that he alerted the principal of his Baton Rouge, La., high school that he intended to purchase Twisted Daiquiris. He even offered to donate proceeds from the store to Central High School’s athletic department, according to his lawsuit.

But Principal Bob Wales was allegedly unswayed, telling Gardner that “he would not be allowed to make any such donations because the sale of liquor is a sin” and because “[Gardner] is a coach and ‘role model.’” Wales had previously asked Gardner about his churchgoing habits and his religious beliefs, the suit alleges. Gardner filed suit against Wales and the school system after his subsequent firing.

Photo credit: Steve Jurvetsen

Garth’s Goofs

Garth Brooks is a successful country singer, but it’s his acting aspirations that are landing him in legal trouble with his ex-business partner. Lisa Sanderson, who worked with Brooks at Red Strokes Entertainment starting in 1994, is suing the star for $425,000, claiming that his poor business decisions cost the company millions of dollars.

According to the suit, the pair agreed to split all producer fees for film and TV projects evenly. But over the years, Brooks allegedly passed on lucrative starring and producing roles in several blockbuster films. Those movies include “Twister,” which Brooks purportedly rejected because “the star of the film was the tornado,” and “Saving Private Ryan,” which the singer nixed because he was unwilling to share the spotlight with cast members Tom Hanks and Matt Damon. Sanderson is suing for breach of contract and fraud, and is also clai

Alanna Byrne

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