Litigation Gone Wild

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At the end of the year, we all love a good countdown. So before moving on to the New Year, let's take a look at the top five lawsuits that left us shaking our heads, laughing out loud, or just plain puzzled.

5. A Grilled Chicken Blunder

You never know what will result from the promise of free food. At least until you don't come through with said promised food. When Oprah and Kentucky Fried Chicken partnered to give Americans some free grilled chicken and ran out, more than a few feathers were ruffled. People were hungry and angry. For full disclosure, I was actually one of them. I blogged about it, then let it go. However, some took their displeasure to a higher level.

James Asanuma and Veronica Mora filed suit against KFC. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, "[T]he complaint accuses KFC of false advertising, fraud and unfair business practices" and using the promotion to get customers to spend money when they had not planned to. The original lawsuit was in Los Angeles Superior Court, but it's been removed to Federal court and could be gearing up for class action status.

4. A Really Bitter Divorce

Some things we imagine will last forever. Or at least a lifetime. It's no surprise to most of us, that despite the "until death do us part" pledge, many marriages end in divorce. However, it is rather surprising when a husband who gave his wife a kidney asks for it back or its monetary equivalent. Especially when the husband is a surgeon. That's what happened to the Batistas, according to an article on newsday.com.

In 2001, Dr. Richard Batista freely gave his wife a kidney. His wife, Dawnell, a nurse, filed for divorce in 2005. And in 2009, her ex-husband changed his mind about the freely given part as it related to his kidney. The Newsday story indicates that Dr. Batista is facing an uphill battle. "Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics said the likelihood of Batista getting either his kidney or cash was 'somewhere between impossible and completely impossible.'"

3. Lawsuits 101

Many people consider it an honor to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. But not Jonathan Lee Riches, aka Irving Picard. According to Abcnews.com, he was about to be listed as the most litigious man in the world. Riches, who is currently serving a sentence in federal prison in Kentucky for wire fraud, has filed thousands of lawsuits.

Riches didn't like the prospect, so, unsurprisingly, he sued Guinness to keep from listing his name. According to the article, Riches is scheduled to be released in March 2012, but could be released into a halfway house as soon as the summer of 2010. And what are his plans upon release? "I'm going to start a lawsuit 101 shop and teach Americans how to file (pro se) lawsuits." He also plans to sell T-shirts that say "Watch what you do or I'll sue you."

2. Disney's Tower of Terror

Not everyone likes amusement park rides, but according to Central Florida News 13, Denise Mooty needs them. And not just any amusement park ride, but specifically Disney World's Tower of Terror. Mooty apparently suffers from a very painful condition caused by abdominal adhesions. Somehow she has found that this particular ride is the one thing that alleviates her suffering. Her doctor agrees that the way the ride drops, causes the scar tissue to break up and allow her to move more freely.

Mooty purchased an annual pass to Disney, so that she could use the ride repeatedly. She alleged that Disney employees detained her and would not let her use the ride as needed. Mooty sued Disney for Breach of Contract, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, and False Arrest.

1. Hallmark v. Hilton - How Hot?

The number one spot may make you shake your head, laugh, and maybe even walk away puzzled at the same time. It's about Paris Hilton and a birthday card. An article on The Business Insider, states that apparently Hallmark was intrigued by Hilton's (literally) trademarked phrase "that's hot" and used it along with an image of her - both without her permission.

In a recent Opinion, the Court stated "We must decide whether California law allows a celebrity to sue a greeting card company for using her image and catchphrase in a birthday card without her permission." Well, that panel of 9th Circuit Judges decided that Hilton's lawsuit against Hallmark can go forward. So if you thought that you would not hear about Paris Hilton in the New Year, sadly, you will have to think again.

For more information visit:

Los Angeles Times "KFC sued over May grilled chicken giveaway" by Tiffany Hsu, June 18, 2009.

Justia.com "James Asanuma et al v. KFC Corp. et al" Case No. 2:2009cv05246, filed July 17, 2009.

Newsday "Man wants wife's kidney back--or $1.5M" by Chau Lam and Ridgely Ochs, January 7, 2009.

ABC News "World's Most Litigious Man Suing Guinness Book of World Records?" by Scott Michels and Sarah Netter, May 26, 2009

Central Florida News 13 "Disney Sued Over Tower Of Terror Ride" by CFNews13.com, January 29, 2009.

The Business Insider Law Review "Paris Hilton Not The Only One Who Can Say "Hot," Says Hallmark" by Erin Geiger Smith, September 24, 2009.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Paris Hilton v. Hallmark Cards, Opinion by Judge O'Scannlain, filed August 31, 2009.