Saturday, March 7, 2015

Man burned while praying over steak: sues restaurant

Good Day World!

I read this morning that a New Jersey appellate court said a man cannot seek damages for burns he suffered while bowing his head in prayer over a sizzling steak fajita skillet at a Burlington County Applebee's.

The story got me to thinking about other crazy lawsuits that have been in the news over the years. I cobbled together seven unusual lawsuit stories for your consideration.

Let’s start off with the most notorious lawsuit:


* In February 1992, Stella Liebeck ordered a cup of coffee to go from McDonalds. Liebeck was sitting in the passenger seat of her nephew's car, which was pulled over so she could add sugar to her coffee.

While removing the cup's lid, Liebeck spilled her hot coffee, burning her legs. It was determined that Liebeck suffered third degree burns on over six percent of her body. Originally, Liebeck sought $20,000 in damages. McDonalds refused to settle out of court.

However, they should have. Liebeck was ultimately awarded $200,000 in compensatory damages, which was reduced to $160,000 because she was found to be twenty percent at fault.

She was also awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages.

* In September 1988, two Akron, Ohio-based carpet layers named Gordon Falker and Gregory Roach were severely burned when a three and a half gallon container of carpet adhesive ignited when the hot water heater it was sitting next to kicked on.

Both men felt the warning label on the back of the can was insufficient. Words like "flammable" and "keep away from heat" didn't prepare them for the explosion. They filed suit against the adhesive manufacturers, Para-Chem.

A jury obviously agreed since the men were awarded $8 million for their troubles.

* In 1992, 23-year old Karen Norman accidentally backed her car into GalvestonBay after a night of drinking. Norman couldn't operate her seat belt and drowned. Her passenger managed to disengage herself and make it to shore.

Norman's parents sued Honda for making a seat belt their drunken daughter (her blood alcohol level was .17 - nearly twice the legal limit) couldn't open underwater. A jury found Honda seventy-five percent responsible for Karen's death and awarded the Norman family $65 million.

An appeals court threw out the case.

* In 1997, Larry Harris of Illinois broke into a bar owned by Jessie Ingram. Ingram, the victim of several break-ins, had recently set a trap around his windows to deter potential burglars.

Harris, 37, who was under the influence of both alcohol and drugs, must have missed the warning sign prominently displayed in the window. He set off the trap as he entered the window, electrocuting himself.

The police refused to file murder charges. Harris's family saw it differently, however, and filed a civil suit against Ingram. A jury originally awarded the Harris family $150,000.

Later, the award was reduced to $75,000 when it was decided Harris should share at least half of the blame.

* In 1991, Richard Harris sued Anheiser-Busch for $10,000 for false advertising. Harris (no relation to the above-mentioned burglar) claimed to suffer from emotional distress in addition to mental and physical injury.

Why? Because when he drank beer, he didn't have any luck with the ladies, as promised in the TV ads. Harris also didn't like that he got sick sometimes after he drank.

The case was thrown out of court.

* In 1995, Robert Lee Brock, a Virginia prison inmate, decided to take a new approach to the legal system. After filing a number of unsuccessful lawsuits against the prison system, Brock sued himself.

He claimed his civil rights and religious beliefs were violated when he allowed himself to get drunk. After all, it was inebriation that created his cycle of committing crimes and being incarcerated. He demanded $5 million from himself.

However, since he didn't earn an income behind bars, he felt the state should pay. Needless to say, the case was thrown out.

* In 1996, Florida physical therapist Paul Shimkonis sued his local nudie bar claiming whiplash from a lap dancer's large breasts. Shimkonis felt he suffered physical harm and mental anguish from the breasts, which he claimed felt like "cement blocks" hitting him.

Shimkonis sought justice in the amount of $15,000, which was denied.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, March 6, 2015

Famous plane crash with rock n’ roll stars revisted to clear pilot’s name

From left, American rock and roll legends Ritchie Valens, 17, Buddy Holly, 22, and J.P. 'Big Bopper' Richardson, 28, who died in a small-plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, in 1959. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was reviewing a petition Wednesday to reopen the investigation into the crash.

(From left, American rock and roll legends Ritchie Valens, 17, Buddy Holly, 22, and J.P. 'Big Bopper' Richardson, 28, who died in a small-plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, in 1959. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was reviewing a petition to reopen the investigation into the crash. Mercury Records)

                                   Good Day World!

Why have U.S. Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators re-opened the iconic 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper?

The short answer is because the NTSB received a request recently from pilot L.J. Coon to reconsider the decision, according to the Mason City Globe Gazette.

But why does Mr. Coon want the case re-opened?

The original investigation 56 years ago conducted by the Civil Aeronautics Board blamed the crash on the pilot's decision to embark on an instrument-guided flight he was not certified for and, secondarily, on poor weather briefing.

According to NTSB regulations, petitions must be based on the discovery of new evidence or on a showing that the findings are erroneous and not on previously advanced positions.

So why does Mr. Coon want to bring up this tragic event?

Back in 2007 there were rumors that a gun might have been fired on board the plane and the Big Bopper might have survived the crash and died trying to seek help. Those rumors were put to rest in this article.

It seems that Mr. LJ Coon, has made his own investigation into the crash since then.

He believes that the finding of the Civil Aeronautics Board in 1959 that the accident was primarily caused by pilot error amounts to an injustice for Roger Peterson, the 21-year-old pilot who was at the controls of the Beechcraft Bonanza and who died alongside the three musicians.

Coon told the Pilot Tribune this year that “Roger would have flown out and about this airport at night, under multiple different conditions. He had to be very familiar with all directions of this airport in and out.”

Whatever comes out of this renewed spotlight on the accident, the tragedy is certain to continue to obsess rock and roll fans for years to come.

Time for me to walk on down the road…




Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Obamacare War: Supreme Court Has Chance to End Senseless Battles

                                       Good Day World!

It’s the never-ending story.

It’s groundhog day every day.

It’s political partisanship on steroids.

It’s all about the GOP bringing down the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and damn the consequences! Since 2010, the GOP has tried – and failed – to reverse the law.

Now, it’s round two at the Supreme Court. The first time around the ACA was upheld.

This time around the Supreme Court is sharply divided. Tax subsidies that make insurance affordable for millions of Americans are at stake.

The justices are trying to determine whether the law makes people in all 50 states eligible for federal tax subsidies to cut the cost of insurance premiums.

Or, does it limit tax credits to people who live in states that created their own health insurance marketplaces?

A ruling that limits where subsidies are available would have dramatic consequences because roughly three dozen states opted against their own marketplace, or exchange, and instead rely on the U.S. Health and Human Services Department's

The new case focuses on just four words "established by the state" in a law that runs more than 900 pages. This is a classic case of nitpicking, hoping for a miracle reversal.

The Supreme Court is expected to vote on the case Friday, although the results of the ruling may not be made public until June, when the court wraps up the current session.

What's at stake:

If the Supreme Court ultimately invalidates these subsidies, more than 9 million Americans would lose nearly $30 billion in tax credits and cost-sharing reductions by 2016, according to the Urban Institute; the uninsured ranks would increase by 8.2 million Americans; and the average Obamacare premium will increase by more than 200% (!!!).

If that happens, it's going to produce a mad political scramble (in Washington and state capitals) to pick up the pieces for Americans who will paying higher health care costs due to the court's ruling.

But if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the government -- that yes, the law was always intended to award subsidies to all Americans, no matter where they live -- it could bring an end to the great Obamacare War.

Let’s hope this madness ends once and for all so those insured Americans can get on with their lives and not have to worry about a partisan battle leaving them uninsured someday.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Will cops and prosecutors get prison time for trying to set up an innocent man?

Good Day World!

Two years ago, 47-year-old disabled veteran, Douglas Dendinger, was paid $50 to serve a court summons.

That simple act almost put him in prison.

As New Orleans’ WWL reports, Dendinger’s two-year nightmare began on Aug. 20, 2012. He was acting on behalf of his nephew when he served Bogalusa police officer Chad Cassard with a summons to appear in court. His nephew had filed a police brutality lawsuit against Cassard.

That’s when everything went wrong.

After serving Cassard a white envelope containing the documents, Dendinger went on his way. But 20 minutes later, police showed up at his house and arrested him. He was jailed on charges of simple battery, obstruction of justice and intimidating a witness.

Dendinger was surprised and alarmed, because he knew none of those things really happened. The charges being leveled against him were all lies. Luckily (and unknown to the people setting him up), he had the whole transaction recorded on a cell phone.

Two of those charges were felonies, and a prior cocaine conviction on Dendinger’s record threatened to land him in jail for a long time as a repeat offender.

But he was confident that he would be released without cause since two prosecutors and several police officers had seen him hand over the summons peacefully.

But that’s not what happened.

A year after the incident, then-District Attorney Walter Reed brought charges against Dendinger. His case was backed by two prosecutors who asserted that Dendinger had assaulted Cassard. Seven witness statements also supported the case.

Cassard made the same claim, writing in a voluntary statement that Dendinger “slapped him in the chest” when he served the summons.

Pamela Legendre, a staff attorney who witnessed the hand-off, said she thought Dendinger had punched Cassard.

Bogalusa police chief Joe Culpepper said that Dendinger had used “violence” and “force.”

And another witness said in a deposition that Dendinger used such force when he served the summons that Cassard flew back several feet.

All lies.

The whole affair was a coordinated effort by Washington Parish, La. cops and prosecutors who falsely accused Dendinger of battery and witness intimidation.

“It wasn’t fun and games, they had a plan, the plan was really to go after him and put him away. That is scary,” Philip Kaplan, the attorney representing Dendinger in his civil rights case, told WWL.

If Dendinger’s wife and nephew had not filmed him that day in order to prove that the court papers had been served, he would have gone to prison for a long time.

Grainy video of the exchange shows Dendinger handing Cassard the summons and the former police officer walking away in the opposite direction.

Though the video aired by WWL does not show the entire encounter, what it does not show is Dendinger slapping anyone or acting aggressively during the crucial moment when he served the summons.

The video also shows that the witness who claimed that Denginger’s force pushed Cassard back several feet had his back turned as the scene unfolded.

After Reed was forced to recuse his office from the case, it was referred to the Louisiana attorney general who quickly dropped the charges against Dendinger.

Rafael Goyeneche, president of the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission, told WWL that after viewing the video he did not see Dendinger commit battery on Cassard and that the officers and prosecutors involved could be looking at serious ethics charges.

“I didn’t see a battery, certainly a battery committed that would warrant criminal charges being preferred,” Goyeneche said.

“It’s a felony to falsify a police report,” Goyeneche continued. “So this is a police report, and this police report was the basis for charging this individual.”

I’ll be interested to see what happens to those officers and prosecutors. Will justice prevail in the end with all of them serving jail time?

Somehow, I doubt it.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Big Butt Boom: Why Plastic Surgeons Love Kim Kardashian

Good Day World!

Back in the 1960’s, I thought a woman’s butt looked best if it was compact with curves. Women who had bountiful butts weren’t on my dating radar.

Nearly six decades later nothing has changed my mind about how the perfect butt should look. The current style of big butts made popular by Kim Kardashian, doesn’t get it for me. 

Meanwhile, plastic surgeons are cashing in on the bottom line – butt augmentation.

Recently two doctors' organizations tallied up the cosmetic procedures performed last year, and butt augmentation skyrocketed. No other procedure came close to that kind of growth.

So who is fueling the sudden growth of big butts?

If you ask a plastic surgeon they’ll tell you women entertainment stars are flashing their cabooses more, which in turn inspires their legions of female fans to get aboard the big butt train.

However, critics contend it's medical marketing that has convinced some Americans they need posterior padding at the cost of thousands of dollars and physical risks.

"Everywhere you look in the media, butts are in," said Dr. Scott Glasberg, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in a recent AP article.

I suppose you could also blame social media for fueling the big butt boom. To each his/her own, I always say. As for me, I guess I’m stuck in the past when it comes to admiring butts!

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, March 2, 2015

American Tribulation: Melting Pot of Souls Never Took Hold

                                     Good Day World!

Norse mythology depicts the end of days as Ragnarök, an Old Norse term translatable as "twilight of the Gods."

The American empire is seething with unrest, racial divides, and political partisanship on steroids. These times should be called “The Twilight of Democracy,” or “Days of Vengeance.”

National protests over the killing of Michael Brown and Eric Garner (both black men) by white police officers touched off rioting, looting, and a deeper divide between blacks and whites.

When a black man murdered two NYPD officers in retaliation for those shootings, supporters of law enforcement nationally were livid. It was like a knife was inserted between the races.

Just hours after they were shot point blank while eating lunch, another cop was murdered in Florida by a black man. Again, it was judged on heated racial accusations.

I grew up during the 1950s. It was not a good time for race relations. Segregation was the law of the land. As I got older –during the 1960s - I saw blacks gaining their rights and starting to assume an equal place in our society.

Democracy looked like it was starting to work to me. But as the 70’s, 80s, and 90s slipped by a deterioration set in, pulling our society apart again. Race and politics entered the new millennium like a hammer blow against hope and peace for race relations.

How is it that our society devolved so rapidly – in less than a century? Where did we go wrong? Why is America so polarized?

Having lived for over six decades – an unwilling witness to these destructive changes – I am at loss for answers. I can’t look back at my youth and claim it was during the “good old days” because of the blatant racial divide that existed then.

Sadly, the “great experiment” of Democracy – a melting pot of souls – has withered to what it is today. A dream that never fully came to fruition.

What will the new year – 2015 - bring? Unless improved race relations become more of a priority on all sides, the end result will be predictable.

Time for me to walk on down the road…


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Courage, Conviction Got Boris Nemtsov Killed by Putin

                                        Good Day World!

Most Americans have never heard of Boris Nemtsov.

His recent murder changed that. Millions of Americans – not to mention the rest of the world – are now aware he was a political reformer in Russia.

As history attests, political reformers don’t do well under Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

The fact that Nemstsov got away with defying Putin for so long is a miracle in itself. The two have known each other for many years.

Amidst the chaos of the 1990s, president Boris Yeltsin had marked out Nemtsov, then a young, reform-minded deputy prime minister, as a possible successor, but ultimately ceded the presidency to a little known ex-KGB officer: Vladimir Putin.

Somehow Nemtsov survived all of these years; probably because of his strong relationships with many powerful Russian oligarchs.

That changed abruptly when Nemtsov was ambushed, and shot from behind while walking across a bridge with his girlfriend of three years.

Only hours before the attack, Nemtsov had given one of his last interviews, criticizing Putin, comparing his rule to the Nazi Third Reich and promising an uprising from the streets.

"We need to work as quickly as possible to show the Russians that there is an alternative, that Putin's policy leads to degradation and a suicide of the state. There is less and less time to wake up," Nemtsov told a correspondent for the Polish edition of Newsweek.

Nemtsov's friends said his latest effort was to expose the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine, where NATO, Kiev and Western governments say Russia has sent soldiers and weapons to support an armed uprising there.

Boris Nemtsov had been preoccupied for weeks with details of an opposition march planned for today. Little did he know that Putin had other plans for him. And make no mistake, it was Putin who was behind his death.

Now he’s claiming someone else committed the dastardly deed. Typical Putin propaganda.

On Nemtsov’s last day he went to the radio station facilities of Echo Moskvy, one of Moscow's last independent minded media outlets, where he did an on air radio interview right before his last dinner.

Following news of Nemtsov's death, Echo Moskvy editor in chief Alexei Venediktov tweeted a photo of himself and Nemtsov.

"Today ahead of broadcasting, Boris asked me 'aren't you afraid of having me on air?' It wasn't me who should have been afraid" Venediktov said. (Compiled from Reuters reports)

After his death, organizers canceled the rally and instead called for a demonstration to mourn him on today in central Moscow. The city gave quick approval, in contrast to its usual slow and grudging permission for opposition rallies.

I applaud Boris Nemtsov’s courage and his conviction. He was a nationalist who cared about the Russian people, unlike that ex-KGB bastard Putin!

Time for me to walk on down the road…

GOP Governors Unite in Fight to Stop Unions in their States

Six Republican Governors have gathered to warn their residents against the evils of unionization which they claim would threaten their jobs...