Tag Archives: Lawsuit

Man Claims Penis Enlargement Device Failed To Work After 500 Hours Use

Not all lawsuits revolve around tragic events.  In fact, some of the funniest stories can be read in the files of many court cases.  This is one of those case, hailing to us from Quebec.  For those of you who are offended by off-color humor or innuendo, my apologies, but I simply could not resist on this one.

Small-claims indeed!

According to papers filed in a small-claims case, a man is suing the manufacturer of a penis enlargement device, claiming that the device failed to produce the intended results – even after 500 hours of use. The plaintiff is seeking $762 in compensation against HotGVibe, the manufacturer of the product.  Of this amount, $200 represents the cost of the device, while $500 represents (according to the plaintiff) “moral and punitive damages.”

And you thought our friends up north were more laid back and easy going…

But Will The Plaintiff’s Evidence Stand Up In Court?

Although a plaintiff in a lawsuit may have a legal claim on which to sue, the plaintiff must still have enough evidence to persuade the trier of fact that his case stands up to vigorous examination.  Such an examination has already taken place in this case, and the judge has indicated that he will render a decision in about 6 weeks.

Huh…6 weeks to make a decision in a small-claims case?  The judge really seems to be taking a long time pondering the plaintiff’s evidence, don’t you think?

Frivolous Lawsuit…Or Is The Plaintiff Selling Himself Short?

As much fun as one can poke at the facts of this case, “erotic” or “adult novelty” devices and services – sold to men and women alike are often scams that pilfer millions of dollars from consumers’ pockets.  Many companies prey on the consumers’ most intimate desires or feelings of inadequacy or embarrassment.  For example, a recent article on a tech product website proclaimed that men could improve the size of their package by purchasing an iPhone app.  Bet you didn’t know there was an app for that, did you?

Cases such as this one challenge preconceived notions about sexual behavior as well.  Consumers such as this plaintiff are not necessarily desiring anything illicit, illegal or unwholesome.  In fact, one could describe this plaintiff as seeking a tool to correct a problem that hundreds of millions of men have encountered at one time or another in their life.  It’s a defective tool case.  What’s so wrong about that?

Finally, before you proclaim him as nothing more than a frivolous plaintiff, consider this – after accounting for the product’s cost, the plaintiff is only asking for $1 an hour per wasted hour. In light of the significance of the plaintiff’s point, perhaps he is letting HGVibe off cheap. 

For more on this interesting case, you can check out this article from The Consumerist.

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California Governor Signs “Expedited Jury Trials Act”

As many already know, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a common feature in today’s civil litigation.  The goal of ADR is to assist litigants in resolving their disputes without the need for a full-blown jury trial on the merits of an action.  ADR can take many forms, including arbitration, mediation and early neutral evaluation.

One form of ADR that never seemed to gain traction in most jurisdictions, however, is the “summary jury trial.”  (See, Thomas B. Metzloff, Reconfiguring the Summary Jury Trial, 41 DUKE L.J. 806, 806. (1992).)  Typically, a “summary jury trial” involves a smaller number of jurors impaneled to hear cases with a lower dollar value, and the proceedings are usually limited to a short period of time (e.g., less than one day’s trial time).  Ordinarily, both sides must agree in order to submit a case to such a procedure.

One jurisdiction where “summary jury trials” have been used in some civil matters is South Carolina.  You will find a law review article entitled Summary Jury Trial in Charleston County, South Carolina in the Box, which discusses the use of this ADR procedure in South Carolina.

Now, the “summary jury trial” is expected to become a more oft-used feature of California’s ADR processes.  On September 30, 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 2284 known as the Expedited Jury Trials Act.  The Act will take effect on January 1, 2011 and self-expire on January 1, 2016 unless a later-enacted statute deletes or extends the date.  The Act is modeled on South Carolina’s “summary jury trials.”

How Will Summary Jury Trials Work In California?

Under the Act, the parties to a civil dispute must agree to submit their case to this procedure; they cannot be compelled to submit their case to the procedure.  Their case will be heard by a jury of eight jurors (or fewer in some circumstances) with no alternates, and six of these jurors must agree on a verdict.  Counsel will be limited to three peremptory challenges.  Each side will have no more than about three hours in which to present their cases.  They must waive their right to appeal an adverse decision or to make certain other post-trial motions.  Finally, expedited jury trials will typically involve “high/low agreements”, a written agreement entered into by the parties specifying a minimum amount of damages a plaintiff is guaranteed to receive from the defendant and a maximum amount of damages that the defendant will be liable for regardless of the ultimate verdict returned by the jury.

Goal Of Summary Civil Trials

Like many states, California has a severe backlog of cases percolating through the judicial system.  Many of these are low-value cases.  The proponents of the Act contend that the procedure has the potential to drastically reduce the cost of such litigation as well as relieve the court’s docket.

What do you think?  Do you think ADR is a good idea in general?  What about “summary” or “expedited” jury trial in particular?

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California County, Others To Pay More Than $650,000 In Same-Sex Elder Abuse Case

Late last week, representatives of Sonoma County, California agreed to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf Clay Greene and the estate of Harold Scull, Greene’s deceased partner of 20 years.  According to the suit, Greene and Scull had each executed mutual powers of attorney for medical and financial decisions and wills naming each other as beneficiaries. In April 2008, County employees in the Public Guardian’s office separated the couple after Scull fell outside their shared home. In the next three months, County officials ignored the couple’s legal documentation, unlawfully auctioned their possessions, terminated their lease, and forced Greene into an assisted living facility against his will. The County did not consult Greene in Scull’s medical care and prevented the two from seeing one another.

In August, 2008, before the partners could be reunited, Scull passed away after completing a photo album of the couple’s life for Greene.

In August, 2009, Greene and the representative of Scull’s estate filed a lawsuit against County officials and others alleging elder abuse, elder financial abuse, breach of fiduciary duty, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, and other claims.  The plaintiffs were represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Under the terms of the settlement, Sonoma County will pay $600,000 to the plaintiffs, with a smaller payment of $53,000 coming from the remaining defendants.  In addition, as a result of the lawsuit, Sonoma County has changed or modified a number of important policies in its Public Guardian’s Office, including requiring County employees to follow protocols before seizing private property, preventing County employees from relocating elders or others against their will, and prohibiting County employees from backdating information in their guardianship database.

NCLR is to be commended for taking on this most egregious case and seeing it through to a favorable conclusion for the plaintiffs.  As a resident of Sonoma County, on a personal and professional level, I am deeply disturbed that it took a lawsuit to cajole the County into “modifying” policies requiring its employees to “follow protocols before seizing private property” of its residents, “relocating elders against their will,” and “prohibiting County employees from backdating information.”  It should not be necessary for anyone – regardless of sexual orientation – to resort to court action to prevent such abuses.  The monetary settlement notwithstanding, what this couple lost cannot be replaced by any court.

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Lawyer – Wait, I Mean Dentist – Orly Taitz Files Lawsuit Against New Health Care Law

Care to know who has joined the “illustrious” group of lawyers filing lawsuits against the new health care bill signed into law by President Obama?  You guessed it, Claimed Lawyer – Apparent Dentist – Birther Queen – and  All-Around Weirdo Orly Taitz.  In a barely-reasoned, badly-drafted Complaint – in which she mis-spells the title of her own court document – Taitz alleges that the new health care law is a:

“VIOLATION OF COMMERCE CLAUSE AND OF PLAINTIFF’S RIGHTS TO GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT AS A DOCTOR OF DENTAL SURGERY UPON DEFENDANT’S IMMINENT SIGHNING OF THE HEALTH BILL”  (Error in original.)

Huh?

But, wait…it gets better. Dr. Orly waxes on, eloquently pleading:

“Health bill, as being prepared and reconciled, will create an enormous machine of governmental burocracy which will intrude into Plaintiff’s practice, will affect her doctor-patient relations, will undermine her Hippocratic oath, will force her to ration medical care and de-facto deny medical care to elderly, whom some committees of burocrats will deem to be too old to receive such care, meaning too old to live.” (Multiple and inexcusable errors in original.)

Orly Taitz concerned me enough when I only knew her to be a sham lawyer, completely incapable of sound legal reasoning, and apparently absent from law school the day they discussed the “actual cases and controversies” clause from the Constitution.  But she’s also a dentist!?!  I mean, I knew she put Dr. in front of her name, but I certainly did not think she seriously meant that she provided, gulp, medical care to actual people.  With sharp instruments and everything!?!

Apparently, Orly did not get a big enough cup of hot, steaming whoop-ass from her last foray into a courtroom.  As some of you may recall, Orly was sanctioned and severely criticized by a Federal judge last year for filing a frivolous lawsuit against President Obama.  In a 30-page opinion, the Judge criticized Orly for, among other things:

  1. Using “rhetoric” that is designed to inflame the “emotions” of her followers instead of real legal arguments; (Orly:  “What are legal arguments?”)
  2. Failing to properly file and serve the defendants in the case so as to give them notice of the case; (Orly:  “That rule didn’t apply to me, did it?”)
  3. An attempt by Taitz to dump two of her clients because she did not like working with their counsel; (Orly:  “I never said I was a people person.”)
  4. Asking supporters to contact the court in an attempt to influence the decision; and (Orly:  “Is that wrong?”)
  5. Possibly asking some witnesses to perjure themselves before the court.  (Orly:  “They were just little, white lies.”)

You can link to additional articles about Orly here and here.

And, yet, no article about Orly Taitz would be complete without at least one photo of the Dr. herself – now, ask yourself, would you want her standing up for you in court?  Or, coming at you with a dentist’s drill and a pair of pliers?  If you answer yes to either of these questions, you need more than a dentist.

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Judge orders UC to repay $38 million in student fees – Inside Bay Area

Judge orders UC to repay $38 million in student fees – Inside Bay Area.

Very interesting article about the outcome of lawsuit against UC for fee hikes in certain programs.  My opinion is that the Judge is right on the mark here.  What do you think?

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UPDATE! High School Takes Its Cue From George Orwell’s “1984”

In the Philadelphia suburb, Lower Merion Township, students are issued laptops by the school district.  Unfortunately, as some Lower Merion high school students recently discovered, their laptops came with an unwanted “spycam” feature courtesy of their school district.

According to a class action lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Lower Merion School District issued laptops to its high school students with webcams installed.  Unbeknownst to the students, however, the high school administration retained the ability to remotely activate the webcam at any time to, essentially, spy on the students and anyone else that might be within view of the webcam.  The plaintiffs and their families alleged that they first became aware of the high school’s ability to activate the webcams and spy on them when one student was brought before the school’s vice principal for “engag[ing] in improper behavior in his home, citing a webcam photo as evidence.

As an article in Boingboing.com noted:

“Schools are in an absolute panic about kids divulging too much online, worried about pedos and marketers and embarrassing photos that will haunt you when you run for office or apply for a job in 10 years.”

It is unclear what “improper behavior” the student committed.  However, schools in Pennsylvania, in particular, appear highly concerned about student activity in cyberspace.  Recently, I wrote about the controversial practice of “sexting” in “Is Sexting Child Porn Or Protected Speech?”  That article discussed the case of Miller v. Skumanick, which involved another Pennsylvania school’s attempt to combat “sexting.”  The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to issue a decision soon in that case.  For now, the District Court’s opinion is in the Box for you to download.

The issue of “sexting” is not limited to Pennsylvania.  Recently, a Florida youth was arrested on charges of child pornography for forwarding sexually explicit images a girl had given him to his friends.  You can link to an article discussing the Florida case here.

The Lower Merion case is not the first case attempting to punish a student for “off campus” Internet behavior.  In fact, the 3rd Circuit has created what one lawyer called a “state of chaos” by issuing two seemingly-conflicting opinions, each involving fake profiles set up by students on Myspace.  You can read about these cases in a Findlaw article here.

However, the Lower Merion case may well be the first case where a school covertly spied on its own students by use of a webcam.  As the case develops, I will report more here.  In the meantime, you can download a copy of the complaint filed against the Lower Merion School District, which I saved under “SchoolSpycamCase” in the Box.

Update:  School Admits To Covertly Spying On Its Students Some 42 Times

If you were like me, as you were reading my previous post on the controversy engulfing Lower Merion Township as a result of its high school’s spycam-campaign, you might have found yourself asking, “Yes, but there are always two sides to every story…What’s the school’s response?”  As an article from today’s Engadget.com revealed, the school’s official response is that they admit that they covertly spied on their high school students some 42 times, using the webcams installed on laptops issued by the school.  In their defense, the school noted that they only captured images, not sound…as though that somehow makes it all better??  In civil rights litigation circles, we have a saying for the situation the Lower Merion High School is in…”You’re screwed!”

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