6 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

A nursing home stripper, a Bar Not-Exactly-Rescue, and four more strange suits in the news

Stripped-Down Suit

I’d like to imagine that the conversation between East Neck Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, in West Babylon, N.Y., and its in-house legal team went something like this:

Legal: “So, what are you being sued for?”

East Neck: “Well, you see, we may have hired a male stripper for an 86-year-old patient, and that stripper may have been photographed dancing in front of the patient by a nursing home employee, and the patient’s son may have found said picture, and... hello? Are you still there?”

But according to a recently filed lawsuit, it’s all true. Franklin Youngblood, the son of 86-year-old Bernice Youngblood, claims that his mother was “photographed by nursing home staff as a muscular, almost nude male dancer gyrated in front of her” against her will. Franklin claims via CBS New York that when he found photographic evidence of the event, one nurse tried to take the photo away, while another dismissed it as an “entertainment event” at the nursing home.

The lawsuit argues that Youngblood and other patients do not possess “the physical or mental capacity to consent to such vile acts or to defend themselves against such vile acts,” while attorneys for the plaintiff said the employees put on the show “for their own sick amusement.”

Bar

 

Lawsuit Rescue

Spike TV’s Bar Rescue features host Jon Taffer helping out bars in financially dire straits attract customers. However, the show and Taffer have inadvertently attracted something else: a lawsuit from one of the bars featured on the show.

Dr. Paul Wilkes, owner of the Las Vegas bar once known as the Sand Dollar, claims that the show goaded him into flirting with Taffer’s wife on camera while her husband was outside. The flirting allegedly included comments such as, “Probably my most impressive trick is just from looking at the bend of your arm, I can tell you what your vagina looks like.” Then, Wilkes claims, Taffer came into the bar and promptly assaulted him for the comments.

According to Deadline, Wilkes claims he “has suffered and continues to suffer severe emotional distress which results in physical manifestations including but not limited to migraine headaches, nausea, vomiting, night terrors, crying spells, severe depression and anxiety attacks,” as a result of the attack. He is seeking general, actual and punitive damages as well as medical and legal expenses, pain and suffering and “other and further relief as the Court many deem just and proper.”

Bed

 

The Court’s Bedtime

Some beds simply offer a bad night’s  sleep, but others are out for blood. Don’t believe me? Then take a look at a lawsuit brought by the family of Joseph Annunziato, which claims that a Murphy bed he was attempting to install in his Staten Island apartment broke, immediately killing him. According to the New York Daily News, the bed connects to the wall and can be folded up and hidden away when needed. However, while Annunziato was attempting to install it while in the down position, it “snapped with such force that it crushed his skull and severed his spine.”

Annunziato’s family claims that Murphy Bed Express in Manhattan sold him the bed “without instructions, warnings and all pieces necessary to properly and safely assemble the bed.” In addition, the suit says, the pieces the store did give him were “unsafe, unmerchantable and unfit for use.” The NYDN says that this isn’t the first death caused by a Murphy bed; two British sisters were trapped by one while on vacation in Spain in 2005, and a Los Angeles man suffocated after drunkenly passing out in a folded-up bed in 1982.

Beer

 

Tapping In

I like a good beer every once in a while, but if that beer is going to injure me, then I think I’ll just have a glass of pop. And now, after reading the story of Benjamin Harris, I know that isn’t as farfetched as it sounds. On April 24, 2012, Harris was attempting to clean a plastic keg where he worked at the Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth, N.H., by pressurizing the keg with air. However, the keg exploded, causing fatal injuries.

But now, M. Christina Kettering, Harris’s sister and administrator of his estate, is looking to make those involved with the defective keg pay in court, says the Portsmouth Herald. Among the defendants are manufacturer Plastic Kegs of America Inc. — who Kettering claims “knew or should have known of previous plastic keg failures and knew or should have known that the kegs they manufactured are defective and unreasonably dangerous as designed and manufactured” — and delivery agency Satellite Logistics Group — who Kettering claims should have known “the inherent differences between metal and plastic kegs with respect to their internal pressure tolerances.”

Ambulance

 

Ice and Pain

Frozen is the heartwarming Disney tale of a magical princess Elsa who possesses the ability to create ice and snow. This is not that story.

Instead, this is the story of a gruesome lawsuit, in which the family of an 80-year-old woman claims that the woman was “frozen alive,” “eventually woke up,” and injured herself upon trying to escape after the White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights, Calif., erroneously ruled her dead following a heart attack. So, think less family comedy and more Lars von Trier.

According to the suit, when morticians came to examine the body days later, they found bruises, broken bones, and cuts so severe they could not be covered by makeup. The L.A. Times reports that a pathologist later examined the body and determined that the woman had actually been frozen alive, not dead from a heart attack as originally presumed. The first case brought against the hospital was disallowed, with the judge siding with hospital attorneys that the claim’s statute of limitations had expired. However, on April 2, the 2nd Circuit overturned that claim, saying that the family had no way of knowing about the potential for a claim until the pathologist’s examination in December 2011.

 

Hot dogs

Keeping Kosher

Looking for a kosher hot dog to improve your spirits? For many, the instant choice is Hebrew National-brand hot dogs, produced by ConAgra Foods Inc. However, following an 8th Circuit ruling on April 4, the company may be fighting in court once again to prove that its “kosher” moniker is actually true.

11 consumers brought a suit in Dakota County, Minn. in May 2012, claiming that Hebrew National hot dogs were not actually 100 percent kosher as ConAgra claimed. According to the suit, meat processor and kosher supervisor Triangle K failed to follow proper protocol to ensure that the hot dogs were kosher. The suit also alleges that ConAgra’s claims of products that “meet a higher standard” made with “premium cuts of 100 percent kosher beef” were misleading customers that paid a higher price for the product.

ConAgra moved the burgeoning class action suit to federal court, where it was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank. Frank claimed that the First Amendment barred him from addressing the religious questions of the case, namely that any decision “would necessarily intrude upon rabbinical religious autonomy.” However, the 8th Circuit reversed the ruling... but not in favor of the plaintiffs, necessarily. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chief Judge William Jay Riley wrote that the consumers lacked standing, calling their suit “pure speculation.” As a result, he said, ConAgra did not have standing to move the case to federal court, and he ordered the case back to the Dakota County court where it originated.

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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