5 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

A gang whistleblower, a ruined corn field, and three more of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

Salacious Searches


Salacious Searches

How many times would it take your personal data to be illegally accessed before you became angry? Just once? 10? 100? Then imagine how angry Jessica Miles, a midday anchor and reporter at KSTP-TV in Minnesota must be. According to a lawsuit she recently filed against a number of different local and state agencies, Miles claims her driver’s license data was illegally viewed 1,380 times from 180 different government entities.

This suit is only the latest against Minnesota departments and agencies, as 20 different people have come forward after obtaining information from the Department of Public Safety to claim that government employees have illegally accessed their records. One of those people is Miles’ husband, Cory Kampschroer, who allegedly had his driver’s license data illegally viewed 92 times. Federal statute says the crime is worth $2,500 per violation, which means the couple could earn over $3.5 million.

Nowhere to Hide

 

Nowhere to Hide

It’s not a stretch to say that allegedly murderous white supremacist gangs aren’t exactly friendly to police whistleblowers. That’s why one whistleblower (“John Doe”) says that when he gave an interview to television channel A&E for their documentary series Gangland concerning the white supremacist gang Public Enemy No. 1, he gave specific orders for the producers to blur out his face. When the episode aired in April 2010, however, he appeared with his identity front and center. Now, A&E could be in hot water as a result.

On Sept. 16, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to throw out John Doe’s suit, claiming that Doe has demonstrated a probability of prevailing on some of his claims. A&E attempted to have the suit thrown out by filing an anti-SLAPP motion, claiming the program was a matter of public concern. But while the court agreed, it says that Doe’s claim that he was misled in signing releases waiving his legal claim means A&E’s First Amendment rights may not apply. “At this stage in the proceedings, Plaintiff has made a sufficient showing of fraud in the execution of the release, which, if true, would render the release void,” 9th Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson said.

Field of Escaping Dreams

 

Field of (Escaping) Dreams

There are some disasters that farmers simply can’t protect against, like terrible weather, swarms of bugs, and… escaped prisoners making a mess of your corn field? That’s what some North Dakota farmers faced in 2011, when prisoner transport company Extradition Transport of America allowed sex offender Joseph Megna to escape from one of its vans. Authorities and farmers used combines to extract Megna from the field in a 22-hour manhunt.

On Sept. 16, Extradition Transport agreed to pay $70,000 to local farmers and authorities as reimbursement for their time and damaged property as a result of the manhunt.  The company also paid $10,000 as a civil penalty, the maximum for a violation of the Interstate Transportation of Dangerous Criminals Act of 2000. According to InForum of Fargo-Moorhead, it was the first lawsuit under the law known as Jeanna’s Act, named Jeanna North of Fargo, N.D., who was kidnapped and murdered by an escaped prisoner in 1993.

What a Hack

 

What a Hack

Police officers often have to do some dirty work to keep the general public safe, but usually that work doesn’t include hacking the deputy chief’s iPad. But that’s what Josh Fazio, a former Will County, Ill., police detective, claims he was ordered to do by Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas in 2012 after Kaupas suspected his wife of cheating. According to court documents, after Fazio complained to a supervisor (and told to do as he was asked), he was demoted.

Fazio has filed suit against both Kaupas and Will County, seeking damages of more than $50,000. Fazio’s attorney Michael Booher said, “I can't imagine in what universe that is legitimate police work.” Fazio now works in the private sector and claims Kaupas told other officials that Fazio was not trustworthy, “a thief, a fake, and could not do his job.” Ken Kaupas is running for sheriff in 2014, and his cousin, outgoing sheriff Paul Kaupas, says the lawsuit was filed only to damage aspiring sheriff’s political career.

Sweet Return

 

Sweet Return

Canadians with a sweet tooth are about to get a tasty surprise. Four of the country’s largest chocolate producers have agreed to pay C$23.2 million ($22.5 million) to settle a class action lawsuit alleging price-fixing and price maintenance in the Canadian market. The defendants—Cadbury Adams Canada Inc., Hershey Canada Inc., Nestle Canada Inc. and Mars Canada Inc.—issue no admission of wrongdoing through the terms of the settlement.

The class action suit involved consumers who purchased chocolate from the four companies between Feb. 1, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2008. Courts in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec have already ruled that consumers who purchased at least C$1,000 of chocolate between Oct. 1, 2005, and Sept. 30, 2007, will be able to claim direct monetary compensation. The deadline for filing a compensation claim is Dec. 15, 2013.

Assistant Editor

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Zach Warren

Zach Warren is Assistant Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, where he oversees online content submissions and administers InsideCounsel's enewsletters. Zach specializes in new media and multimedia...

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