Fun With Lawsuits


     Story of the Week. My favorite legal news story of the week comes from Florida: A public defender caused a mistrial by posting a photo of her client’s leopard-print underwear on her Facebook page.
     According to news reports , the lawyer snapped a picture of some underwear that the client’s family brought for him and put it on her private Facebook page with some sort of snide comment about the family.
     No juror saw this, but someone snitched to the judge who, I guess, was shocked that a public defender might not have the utmost respect for her accused-murderer client.
     Personally, I think she should have been commended for not showing the underwear with the client in it.
     
     Burying the Lead. So many news writers put the most important facts at the end of their stories.
     Case in point: A New York Times piece last week on a race discrimination lawsuit.
     Here’s the last paragraph: “‘Recently I got my U.S. citizenship,’ he said, ‘and I realized, like, this isn’t something I expected when I became a U.S. citizen.'”
     In other words, the quoted speaker now truly can appreciate what it means to be an American: You can sue over anything.
     It’s truly heartwarming. Welcome to America.
     In case you missed it, the story is about a Korean who sued Hooters because a couple of waitresses laughed after seeing that a cashier had typed “chinx” on his receipt.
     OK, that’s tacky behavior and definitely flies in the face (or maybe breasts) of the warm, welcoming image of Hooters. Fortunately, the American dream lives for new citizens: You can find a lawyer willing to file a federal lawsuit over someone laughing at you.
     Can’t wait to see if the damages cover this guy’s fees.
     Again: Welcome to America.
     
     Dangerous Stereotype. If an animal is “inherently dangerous,” why would you want to keep it as a pet?
     You don’t see a whole lot of people with pet piranhas or puff adders.
     But a lot of people own pit bulls. Their owners don’t appear to be suicidal.
     I admit I know nothing about pit bulls. I have beagles and they’re inherently cute. But a Maryland appeals court has ruled that pit bulls are inherently dangerous (whether cute or not) and that landlords could be sued over pit bull attacks.
     And now landlords are evicting people who own pit bulls.
     Profiling is never fair.
     Naturally, there’s now a federal lawsuit in Maryland seeking to overturn the pit bull stereotyping. Expect to see some good doggies in court.
     
     Speciesism. Prejudice against dogs isn’t confined to Maryland. A Minnesota woman has filed a federal lawsuit against her condominium association for telling her she couldn’t have a service dog – but she can have a service cat.
     Picture for a moment service cats helping the handicapped get around town.
     There seems to be stereotyping on both sides of this issue.
     According to a news report, the lawyer for the condo association wrote: “The Association encourages Ms. Orenstein to consider the therapeutic benefits that keeping a cat may provide.”
     And the lawyer for the plaintiff was quoted as saying: “The psychologist’s characterization of benefits from the ‘unconditional love offered by a dog’ is not typically applied to cats, which are more typically described as independent.”
     All that purring and leg-rubbing is a ruse to keep us from realizing how much they hate us.
     I’m not going to take sides in this age-old dispute, but I do have a prediction. At some point, at least one judge at trial or on appeal is going to use the phrase: “fighting like cats and dogs.”

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