6 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

Topless Empire State Building photos, a $100 million lawsuit from a jailed pimp and four more strange suits in the news

Empire State Building


Empire State Botching

Imagine a peaceful day, sightseeing at the top of the Empire State Building, when you turn a corner and suddenly… topless woman photo shoot. While this sounds like Hugh Hefner’s wildest fantasy (OK, maybe not wildest), Empire State Building officials were less than amused when photographer Allen Henson made it a reality in 2013. Now, according to Gothamist (NSFW link), the building’s owners are suing Henson for $1.1 million, with damages equaling $100,000 for lost revenue and the rest as a punitive sum.

“In order to continue to attract visitors, including families, to the building and the observatory, and assure their well-being, ESB has to maintain both the image and the fact that the building and the observatory are safe, secure and appropriate places for families and tourists,” the lawsuit says. Henson, meanwhile, contests the charge that he profited off of the photos, saying “There's been no commercial value. I haven't even used it for my portfolio. I took them on my cellphone. If they want to sue every single tourist who's up there who takes a cellphone photo without their expressed permission, that'd be pandemonium.” He also contested the charge that his photographs hurt the building’s brand.

Sirgiorgio Clardy

 

It’s hard out here for a pimp

Pimpin’ ain’t easy, and according to Portland, Ore., pimp Sirgiorgio Clardy, Nike didn’t help his cause. Clardy, who is currently serving a 100-year prison sentence for assault among other charges, claims Nike should have included a label in Jordan brand shoes that they could be used as a dangerous weapon. Clardy was wearing Jordans when he stomped the face of a john who attempted to leave without paying Clardy’s prostitute in 2012.

According to The Oregonian, Clardy is representing himself in the suit. In his filed suit, he writes, “Under product liability there is a certain standard of care that is required to be up-held by potentially dangerous product ... Do (sic) to the fact that these defendants named in this Tort claim failed to warn of risk or to provide an adequate warning or instruction it has caused personal injury in the likes of mental suffering.”  Nike, unfortunately, has not yet responded to the suit.

Sirgiorgio Clardy photograph via the Multnomah Co. Sheriff's Office.

Fireworks

 

A sparkling, shining suit

I love the staples of 4th of July: hot dogs, fireworks and lawsuits. Joseph and Joan Truxler of Zephyr Cove, Nev., on the southeast shore of Lake Tahoe, insist that they love the fireworks display put on every year by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. But they also claim that the tourism agency and its contractor have not done enough to clean up the environment in the display’s aftermath, so the couple has sued for $75 million in damages in district court for violations of the Clean Water Act.

“The inaction on their part is what has triggered all this,” Joan Truxler said to The Associated Press. Her suit says that the tourism agency and Pyro Spectaculars North Inc. have failed to obtain the necessary discharge permit and are violating California and Nevada water quality standards by discharging trash, debris, munitions and chemical residues — including perchlorate, nitrate and sulfur — into the lake over the past five years.

LTVA lawyer Kara Thiel argues that the couple is exploiting the Clean Water Act, saying the law “intended to discourage pollutant discharge concealed from regulatory oversight. It is inconceivable LTVA and Pyro would fall into this category.”

Surgery

 

The worst hospital stay

David Eckert had one particularly unfun night in January 2013. After being pulled over on a routine traffic stop, police officers from Deming, N.M., believed Eckert was hiding drugs in his buttocks because of his posture, as well as a reputation Eckert had supposedly gained around town. Officers sought to obtain a search warrant from Hidalgo County officials on those grounds, which they received. And by the time the night was over, Eckert had been subject to three enemas, two anal probes and a colonoscopy from two different hospitals. Doctors never found any drugs.

In a lawsuit against Deming and Hidalgo County, Eckert alleged a whole host of privacy violations, including, according to the Silver City Sun-News, being denied the right to make a phone call from the police station and the fact that the search warrant that was filed to search his body was valid only in Luna County but he was taken to a Grant County after a doctor at the local hospital refused to do the searches. Eckert received $1.6 million from the city and country for his troubles, a settlement that he called “justice as I think the settlement shows they were wrong to do what they did to me.”

Wild horses

 

Crazy horse?

Wild horses aren’t always like Budweiser commercials make them seem. Sometimes, they can be unruly and dangerous… and lead to lawsuits when they inadvertently destroy rangelands. The Nevada Farm Bureau Federation and the Nevada Association of Counties filed a lawsuit on Dec. 30 against Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the Interior Department and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), claiming that the governmental agencies should have done more to corral wild horses within the state. The two plaintiffs claim that wild horses have damaged public land and threaten water rights, and also that the defendents’ treatment of the horses threatens the animals themselves.

The lawsuit has been filed under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which the Las Vegas Review-Journal says requires the BLM to protect the “natural ecological balance of all wildlife species” on public lands and to remove “excess” horses and burros from the range. While the lawsuit says that the BLM has a responsibility to “destroy” horses that are ruled unadoptable, the BLM has opposed the sale of horses for slaughter. While the BLM has not commented publicly on the suit, Anne Novak, executive director of the horse advocacy group Protect Mustangs, told the Review-Journal that the plaintiff’s claims that the animals are unhealthy is false, and that “the plaintiffs have an arrogant sense of entitlement.”

Justin Bieber

 

Please Belibe me

Now, I’m not saying Justin Bieber’s an idiot… mainly because I don’t want to call down a six-figure lawsuit upon my (or InsideCounsel’s) head by the Bieb’s legal team. Of course, merchandizer Wall Celebrity had to learn this the hard way and now faces a $100,000 lawsuit from Bieber’s handling team concerning a comment the company made on the Internet calling Bieber an “idiot.”

According to the New York Daily News, the lawsuit from Bravado International Group Merchandising Services claims Wall Celebrity breached a contract to sell vinyl wall graphics of the singer by disparaging him publicly. Bravado filed the suit in a Manhattan federal court on Jan. 10, seeking $100,000 in damages from Wall Celebrity and its head, Gianni Giannulli. Giannulli did not respond to the NYDN’s request for comment.

Justin Bieber photo via Wikipedia

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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