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Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Picture Day

I may be imagining this, but it seems like every time the stock market crashes, the volume of new lawsuits goes up.

If any economists out there are reading this, you clearly don't have enough to do. But since you're not busy, you may want to look at this.

My hypothesis is that lawyers losing money in the market figure they need to make up for it by generating more fees. This works out well because there are also a lot of clients looking to make up for losses.

This probably isn't true, but I did come across an awful lot of lawsuits last week in Los Angeles and, on Wednesday, I had what I like to call a Picture Day.

That's a day when I get a bunch of wonderful stories encapsulated in complaints that cry out to be pictured in my mind - and also yours, because I'm all about sharing.

I have four from Wednesday filings. Picture the scenes described.

They may not have actually happened the way they were depicted, but it's more fun to pretend these things are true.

The first is from a suit you may have heard about against Dr. Phil, aka Phil McGraw, who was sued by a former member of his staff who claims she was so traumatized by an event last March that she was forced to quit about a month and a half later.

According to the suit, about 300 Dr. Phil show employees were summoned and crammed into a standing-room-only room. Security officers were present and the doors were locked.

"Dr. Phil yelled at the employees present at the meeting, including Plaintiff, alleging that one of them had leaked internal information to the press. Dr. Phil informed those present that he had contacted the 'Feds' because the information that was transmitted was done so over state lines."

Contemplate this scene.

Shouldn't someone be laughing at Dr. Phil? Imagine Dr. Phil calling the FBI to report a security breach at his daytime talk show.

"Yes sir, Dr. Phil," the highly placed official on the other end of the call would respond. "We'll get on that immediately. Do you suspect the Chinese or ISIS?"

Imagine suspects being interrogated on camera.

The suit gets a little less weird on the next page when we're told that a CBS executive told the plaintiff that Dr. Phil just enjoyed scaring his staff.

But why would this staff be scared by something so silly?

I'm guessing he only hires potential patients.

Our second item is from a suit filed by a guy who says he got invited to a gathering in Malibu featuring a talk by a faith healer.

The healer - I'm omitting his name because he sounds scary - approached the plaintiff and asked him to sit down. "Plaintiff was then under the impression that (healer) would pray for him ...

"Suddenly and without any advance warning or other requesting permission from the Plaintiff, (healer) forcefully twisted Plaintiff's neck and awkwardly cracked it."


Apparently this conversion technique doesn't work on everyone.

Fake vomit was central to a suit filed against a film production company by an 80-year-old extra working on an episode of a reality show called "Hot Shots."

I haven't seen this show, and I'm kind of afraid of what the "hot shots" might be.

It seems that the plaintiff was supposed to sit in a restaurant booth while someone in the next booth fake-vomited on a table.

Everything was fine during rehearsal.

But during the final take, "the vomit-like material shot directly onto Plaintiff's face."

The old guy freaked out, hurt his back and sued - but I'm guessing they used the footage.

Finally, a property owner - represented by a real law firm - sued the City of Los Angeles and a group of city officials for not making his neighbor take down or trim a hedge.

The most astonishing sentence from this complaint is this one: "Due to the above-described misconduct, Plaintiff has incurred significant expenses, totaling more than $200,000 in attorneys' fees and costs."

Clearly, this is someone with a hedge fund.

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