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5 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

An attack duck, breast milk security checks, and three more strange suits in the news

The real Scrooge McDuck

You can call this lawsuit a “quack,” but maybe not for the reason you’d expect. Washougal, Ore., native Cynthia Ruddell claims that she was walking down the street on May 7, 2012, when the pet duck of neighbor Lolita Rose attacked her. According to Ruddell’s attorney, “[T]he duck flapped its wings at her and knocked her back and she fell down on an outstretched hand and fractured her wrist in two spots.” As a result of the attack, the suit said, Ruddell broke her right wrist, sprained or strained her elbow and shoulder, and suffered a rotator cuff injury.

Ruddell claims that Rose should be responsible for her duck, named Squirt. The lawsuit says that Rose knew the duck had “abnormally dangerous propensities in attacking people” and that she should have restrained the duck from being in contact with others. “We had neighbors that indicated this duck was a crazy duck that attacked kids at the school bus stop and other people before,” Ruddell’s lawyer told KATU-TV.  Ruddell seeks $25,000 in medical bills and $250,000 in pain and suffering damages, which her lawyer said would likely be paid by Rose’s insurance policy.

Breast Milk

 

Security/settlement check

The Affordable Care Act may have amended policies over breastfeeding in the work place, but what happens when the Transportation Security Administration attempts to X-ray your breast milk when going through airport security? After the ordeal that one Southern California woman went through at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Feb. 1, 2010, it seems that the end result is a $75,000 settlement and a revision of the TSA’s policies.

Stacey Armato claims that she asked to have an alternative screening of her breast milk at the airport, but TSA officials refused. Instead, her lawsuit said, officials contained her within a glass enclosure for 40 minutes, which Armato believed was partly retaliation for a complaint she filed over a similar incident the week prior. The TSA would not comment on Armato’s complaint itself to ABC News, but the agency did say that it now treats breast milk as “liquid medication.” The liquid bottle scanner the TSA now uses runs on lasers, infrared or electromagnetic resonance, instead of X-rays.

Reality TV

 

Wrong Kind of Bang

Reality TV became a little too real for the family of Terry Flanell, part-owner of Dragon Man, a firing range and gun store in Colorado Springs, Colo. The store was to be the setting of a new Discovery Channel reality TV show named “Brothers in Arms,” with Flanell and husband Melvin Bernstein at the center. However, during filming of the show’s opening sequence, something went horribly wrong. According to a lawsuit filed by Flanell’s family, the show’s producers planned to have Flanell and Bernstein “walk together through a cloud of smoke carrying weapons,” but one of the pyrotechnics malfunctioned, striking Flanell and killing her instantly.

Bernstein, his daughter and his brothers brought a wrongful death suit against Discovery Channel parent Discovery Communications and Anthropic Productions Corp. In the suit, they claimed that Discovery had used “two pyrotechnic devices that Discovery and Anthropic knew had not been manufactured by a licensed and experienced manufacturer of pyrotechnic devices.”  However, in late April, the lawsuit was dropped. Discovery noted in its response to the lawsuit that the pyrotechnics had been manufactured and tested “with the assistance and knowledge of Plaintiff Mel Bernstein ...”

Artwork

 

Legal Work of Art

Ah, Picasso. Known for his artistic portrayal of the Spanish Civil War, his founding of the Cubist movement, and setting off a war in court between the landlord of New York City’s Four Seasons Restaurant and art conservationists. Haven’t heard about the last one? You may in coming days, as the Associated Press reports that Landmarks Conservancy, a nonprofit group that owns the largest Picasso painting in the United States, “Le Tricorne,” is suing to stop the Four Seasons from moving the work from its current place.

The Four Seasons has announced plans to temporarily move the work, a 19-by-20-foot painted stage curtain, in order to repair the wall behind it. The curtain currently hangs in “Picasso Alley” within the Four Seasons, a spot it has held since the restaurant opened in 1959. However, Landmarks Conservatory claims that the wall is in fine shape, and moving the work could potentially cause it irreparable harm. The landlord, RFR Holding Corp., says that this case is bigger than just one curtain, with a lawyer for the plaintiffs arguing that an art owner should not be allowed to require that an art work be held in one space indefinitely.

Football

 

Seattle Suithawks

How badly have you wanted to go to a football game? Chances are, John E. Williams III has you beat. A 49ers fan since the 1970’s, he was all ready to make the trip to Seattle to see his San Francisco squad take on the Seahawks... until the Seattle Seahawks imposed a restriction on ticket sales that only allowed them to be sold to pro-Seattle markets in the states of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii, as well as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. Williams believes that this policy violates the Federal Consumer Fraud Act and/or common law, and he has sued the National Football League to prove it.

In his $50 million lawsuit, Williams claims that the NFL and other engaged in “economic discrimination” with its ticket selling policy. “This selected process is contrary to the spirit of the NFL and contrary to public accommodation,” said Williams within the suit. He also claims that the NFL should not be allowed to restrict tickets on the basis that the purchaser is “not from an area determined by the team -- or the NFL -- to be fan of that team.” According to ESPN, Williams is seeking $10 million in punitive damages on top of $40 million in real damages.

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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