5 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

A harmful shoe purchase, Devo's silly hats, and three more strange suits in the news

Dangerous Shopping

There are some true dangers in this world: alligators, black ice, and security tags impaling your child’s foot. Never heard of the last one? Then you apparently are not Amanda McQuilliam of Milwaukie, Ore., who is suing Ross Dress for Less after what she claims was a sharp security device that punctured her son’s foot was left in shoes she purchased from the store.

According to The Oregonian, a Ross employee left the security device inside the shoe. Then, the suit says, “Upon return(ing) home, the five year old plaintiff, excited with the prospect of his new shoes, ran to his bedroom with the shoes and immediately put them on.” But tragedy struck when the sharp device became lodged in his foot, which resulted in multiple hospital visits. McQuilliam claims her son was limping for four months as a result of the injury and now often refuses to even put on shoes. In the suit, the unsatisfied shopper seeks $10,000 in medical bills and pain and suffering damages.

Police

 

... We Have a Problem

Labor and employment conflicts often arise in police stations for a number of reasons, with whistleblowing sitting right near the top of the charts. Usually though, that whistleblowing doesn’t include a senior officer taking a sneak peek at a deceased pop star’s genitals. But then again, everything is a little bit different in Beverly Hills, isn’t it?

Former Beverly Hills police officer Brian Weir filed a lawsuit on Mar. 10 that claims he was removed from his position after reporting that a fellow officer disturbed the scene of Whitney Houston’s death in 2012. According to NBC News, Weir claims that he “attempted to secure and preserve the scene of the death” by placing a sheet over Houston’s body. However, the suit claims that then-deputy sergeant Terry Nutall lifted the sheet to an area “below the pubic region” and exclaimed, “Damn, she’s still looking good, huh?” Weir seeks damages pursuant to his former position as a special unit officer.

Devo

 

Whip It [The Lawsuit] Good

What do you remember about the band Devo? Is it their 1980’s ubiquitous song “Whip It”? Or is it the funny hats they wore in the corresponding album cover and music video? Because if it’s the latter — and the band is betting it is — those funny hats may be a piece of key intellectual property that the band does not want to give up that easily.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Devo had filed suit on Dec. 31, 2013, against memorabilia source T.V. Store Online for what the online store calls “Energy Dome Hats.” Devo claimed that these unlicensed hats are a direct rip-off of the band’s intellectual property. Clare Neumann, who was representing the band in the case, tells THR that the band expected to address “trade dress and common law trademarks in the way the defendant was confusing its customers about source of origin.” But alas, the two sides settled out of court on March 7, and now we may never know whether Devo’s silly hats are truly protectable IP.

 

Image via Wikipedia

Burrito

 

One Beef Burrito, Please

Perhaps I simply like my burritos too much, but I would not want to get on Chipotle’s bad side. However, that does not seem to be an issue for recording artist Frank Ocean, who is beefing with the Mexican food restaurant over a contract to produce a song for an ad campaign.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chipotle claims it gave Ocean $212,500 with the expectation that he would produce a track called “Pure Imagination” to go with the company’s “Scarecrow” ad campaign. The suit says that Chipotle discussed the project with Ocean and his CAA representation, letting him know about the message centered local and sustainably-sourced food. Ocean allegedly signed the contract after seeing the video that would be associated song, which Chipotle says was roughly 80 percent complete and did not contain the Chipotle logo at the end of the film.

However, that logo turned out to be a bigger deal than Chipotle expected. In a letter to the company, included in the suit, Ocean’s lawyers write, “When Frank was asked to participate in this project, Chipotle's representatives told him that the thrust of the campaign was to promote responsible farming. There was no Chipotle reference or logo in the initial presentation, and Chipotle told Frank that was an intentional element of the campaign.” Chipotle denies those agreement terms.

Blackjack

 

Playing with House Money

How drunk is too drunk to gamble? That question looks to be at the center of a lawsuit filed by California businessman Mark Johnston, who claims that the Downtown Grand Las Vegas Hotel and Casino served him 20 free drinks in an attempt to take his money while he was drunk. According to the lawsuit, on Super Bowl Sunday, Johnston says he lost a total of $500,000, including $250,000 on credit that was extended to him while intoxicated. He says that the Grand violated Nevada law, which bars casinos from indulging “persons who are visibly intoxicated” in their gambling attempts.

One expert told The Christian Science Monitor that despite courts forcing increased personal responsibility, Johnston may just have a case. “This isn’t the first time a gambler has tried to get out of a major debt this way, and for a veteran gambler, it’s sort of a naïve argument,” said Aaron Duncan, an expert on gambling and pop culture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “But it does also point to the contradiction of Las Vegas – that casinos sort of pay lip service to the notion of ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,’ that gambling has no consequences, but at the same time it’s all about free drinks to entice you to get into a less-than-best state of mind.”

 

For more of the strangest lawsuits making headlines, check out 6 more strange stories from late February.

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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