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5 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

A Red Robin controversy, a chicken fight, and three more strange suits in the news


Unhelpful Uniformity

Maybe they didn’t need to have 15 pieces of flair like the servers at Chotchkie’s, but the servers at several eastern Pennsylvania Red Robin restaurants had another uniform-related problem: They claim their employer illegally took deductions from employee paychecks to pay for uniforms. According to a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of the servers, Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group, which operates multiple Red Robin restaurants, also forced workers to share tips with kitchen staff, who typically do not receive tips.

The Morning Call of the Lehigh Valley, Penn., writes that the company pays its servers between $2.83 and $3.33 per hour, which is allowed under state law because tips are expected to make up the difference to the state’s $7.25 per hour minimum wage. However, the servers’ lawyers claim that because of the uniform and tip sharing rules, the company should not be eligible to receive tip credit under state guidelines.



Costly Phone Usage

Call it the first rule of responsible cell phone usage: If you drop your cell phone and it lands in a dangerous to reach place, it’s often better just to cut your losses than to risk life and limb to retrieve it. However, what exactly constitutes a dangerous situation, and how much responsibility lies with others to keep someone safe? Those issues are at the center of a recently-filed lawsuit in Palatine, Ill., after a man was crushed by a trash compactor while searching for his lost cell phone last July.

Roger Mirro was killed after searching for a cell phone in his condominium’s trash compactor that he believed he accidentally threw away. Lawyers for Donna Mirro, Roger’s wife, claim the building manager and homeowner’s association failed to ensure his safety. “In this tragic situation, the member of the condo association gave the keys to the client but did not warn him how the machine worked or did not accompany him to the room,” said lawyer Craig Brown according to the Chicago Tribune. The suit also claims that “[w]ith the ladder in place, Roger was encouraged to climb up so that he could see into the loading hopper of the compactor.”

Chicken Leg


Playing Chicken

Within its “Simple Choice” brand, supermarket operator Kroeger Co. claims to offer consumers premium chicken. However, one lawsuit claims that Kroeger’s premium option isn’t so different all, with the chicken sold in stores actually raised under standard commercial farming methods. The proposed class action lawsuit, filed on Feb. 11 in Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County according to Reuters, claims that Kroeger purposefully misled customers with branding such as “humane environment” and “cage free.”

Industry experts claim that most broiler chickens are raised inside large buildings, not cages. As such, the lawsuit claims, the fact that these chickens are raised “cage-free” does not make them a premium product, or different from other chickens within the store at all. “Looking to profit from growing consumer awareness of, and concern with, the treatment of farm animals raised for meat production, Kroger engaged in a deceptive and misleading marketing scheme to promote its 'Simple Truth' store brand chicken as having been sourced from chickens raised 'cage free in a humane environment',” said the complaint.

Baseball Field


Field of Nightmares

The charming brown of the outfield, the wistful potholes between first and second, a third base that may not be visible because of dirt clods… OK, maybe youth baseball has changed a little bit since my day. Or maybe, as Joe Kirk of Sylmar, Calif., claims, the Sylmar Independent Baseball League (SIBL) has done such a bad job keeping up with its fields and mismanaging funds that only a lawsuit will help save youth baseball in the area.

According to CBS Los Angeles, Kirk’s suit claims that the SIBL’s fields have become unsafe for children to play on. “Can you imagine a little seven-year-old boy out here in right field coming up, and trying to pick up the baseball, and tripping, and there goes an ankle,” Kirk asked a CBS reporter. Kirk says the lawsuit is simply trying to keep youth baseball alive in the area through forcing the SIBL’s board of directors to step down. “Up here in the North East San Fernando Valley, these kids have nothing,” Kirk explained. “But they always had baseball.” An attorney representing the SIBL board of directors had no comment.

Pink Record


(Not) Free Sample

IP trolls aren’t just a problem for technology companies — even musical artists are feeling the NPE sting. Record label TufAmerica has made trademark litigation a habit, suing Jay-Z, Kanye West, and the Beastie Boys in recent years over claims that the artists illegally used samples from TufAmerica-acquired songs without proper attribution or royalties. Now, TufAmerica has a new musical act in its sights — R&B singer Frank Ocean.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, TufAmerica claims that Frank Ocean’s song “Super Rich Kids” incorporates an improper sample of Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love.” The label alleges that Blige’s song itself improperly samples a 1973 song “Impeach the President” by the Honeydrippers, of which TufAmerica holds the rights. Strangely enough, however, TufAmerica does not claim to own all of Ocean’s song. The label has calculated that it owns 3.15 percent of the song thanks to agreements related to its ownership of “Impeach the President.”

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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