18 Percent Better|Than Nothing

     It’s not often that I just out-and-out guffaw at a passage in an appellate ruling.
     Titter, yeah.
     Shake my head in wonder? Absolutely.
     Laugh loudly? Quite often.
     But a good belly laugh is relatively rare. I have one for you today.
     It’s from a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling called Dennis v. Kellogg Co.It’s not what the judge wrote. The good part is the statements made in ads by cereal-maker Kellogg. Here’s part of it:
     “Based upon independent clinical research, kids who ate Kellogg’s® Frosted Mini-Wheats® cereal for breakfast had up to 18% better attentiveness three hours after breakfast than kids who ate no breakfast.”
     Hmm. Let’s see. My breakfast choices are sugar-coated cereal or absolutely nothing. Which could possibly bring up my morning energy level?
     New advertising slogan: Frosted Mini-Wheats® — they’re better than nothing!
     Wow! What a claim! Bet there aren’t a lot of competitors making that kind of claim.
     Personally, I don’t think this is misleading or false. You could make this claim about cardboard. But that didn’t stop a couple of people from filing proposed class actions alleging that the marketing claims were false and the study was not scientifically valid.
     The suits were settled and the lawyers for the class of people who didn’t realize that eating nothing wasn’t nutritious got $2 million out of a $10 million settlement. Much of the settlement money was to go to charities that feed the indigent.
     I know – you too are picturing poor people on sugar highs, but apparently it’s not going to happen. The appeals court struck down both the legal fees and the charitable contribution. Among other things, the court noticed that the plaintiff lawyers would be getting about $2,100 per hour and the charitable contribution wasn’t going to people misled by the ads.
     Poor people know the value of nothing.
     THOSE CRAZY BOSSES. I know I must have a distorted view of bosses because I read lawsuits and appellate rulings for a living, but some of these guys must be crazy.
     Either that or maybe executive technique isn’t fully appreciated by underlings.
     Take this scene described in an appellate ruling from New York called Petrov v. Bragard Inc.:
     “Following an incident in which the chief operating officer of the company held a wire or strap around the claimant’s neck in front of two coworkers, claimant became upset, packed her things and left her job.”
     Now there’s someone who knows how to keep workers in line. Want to bet the coworkers had a productive day?
     And then there’s the suit filed last week in Los Angeles by a sheriff’s deputy who claims he was harassed and demoted because he objected to something his captain did.
     The captain, who headed up a county sheriff’s office on Catalina Island, allegedly decided to let a prisoner out of jail, give him some civilian clothes and take him to the golf course.
     It seems, according to the lawsuit, that the prisoner, a convicted jewel thief who stole stuff while he was golfing with people, was also a former pro golfer in Canada and the captain wanted a golf lesson.
     I’m guessing here that the captain didn’t have any valuables on him when they were out on the course.
     Seems like a perfectly logical use of prisoner community service. A prisoner skill set shouldn’t go to waste.
     Employees need to be more understanding.

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