Ultra Vires


Litigious Levity


Nick Papageorge (1L) and Justin Khorana-Medeiros (1L)

In last month’s Blast from the Past, I came across a short-lived feature highlighting odd and entertaining legal cases. It seemed like a worthwhile bit to revive, and so I bring you these recent strange cases, the majority of which—perhaps unsurprisingly—come from the United States.

Poop and Poetry in Ohio

Allegations of prisoner abuse by corrections officers should never be a laughing matter—but the response of one judge to such an allegation is a different story.

Darek Lathan was in line for prison recreation time when he was overcome by the urgent need to go to the washroom. The guard would not allow it and the inevitable mess occurred, humiliating Mr. Lathan and leading him to sue the guard and the prison for $2 million. The following are actual excerpts from Judge David E. Cain’s five-stanza poem—which literally makes up the entirety of the ruling—dismissing the action.

While in line for recreation

And little time for hesitation

His anal sphincter just exploded

The plaintiff’s britches quickly loaded.

Neither runs nor constipation

Can justify this litigation

Whether bowels constrict or flex

De minimis non curat lex.

That Amount Will Probably Come Down a Bit on Appeal

Anton Purisima likely dreamed of owning a solid gold house and a rocket car, and thought a dog bite and other unrelated nonsense was his way to get it.

After being bitten by a dog on a bus, Mr. Purisima filed suit against the “Latina Dog Owner” for failing to provide him information, as well as the city of New York and the Transit Authority. He alleged a conspiracy between those defendants, as well as discrimination based on race (the plaintiff identifies as Filipino-American).

He also sued the Au Bon Pain store in LaGuardia Airport for overcharging him for coffee—alleging the store’s employees were motivated by racism and had been “corrupted” by “Chinese individuals”—and sued the Airport Administration for allowing such treatment (plus another racially-motivated incident wherein Airport employees forced him to unplug his “small electric rice cooker”).

He alleges these were retaliatory incidents stemming from a separate and unrelated—though strikingly similar—action which he had brought. On the strength of these claims Mr. Purisima sought $2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (two undecillion dollars) in damages. He was not awarded them.

Double-Double Trouble

This case is more police blotter than anything else but makes the list for being amongst the Most Canadian Crimes Ever—and because the RCMP press release actually referred to it as “double double trouble.”

It seems a man in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, had a 4:00am craving for coffee and an iced capp. As any rogue Canadian would, he broke into his local Tim Hortons and attempted to make these drinks for himself. Employees caught him in the act and he was arrested shortly afterwards on charges of break and enter, and mischief.

“No employees or doughnuts were harmed during the incident,” the RCMP assured us.

Oh, the betrayal!

In what would probably constitute a capital crime in Canada, Quaker Oats Co has been accused in a new lawsuit of fraudulently misleading consumers into believing its Maple & Brown Sugar instant oatmeal contains real maple syrup.

Darren Eisenlord recently filed a complaint in a (surprise surprise) California federal court. He claims that Quaker Oats causes confusion by including a glass pitcher of maple syrup and the words “maple sugar” on packaging for six instant oatmeal products.

Eisenlord alleges the company deliberately misrepresented the maple content of its products knowing that customers would pay more for oatmeal containing “premium ingredients” like real maple sugar and maple syrup.

Mr. Eisenlord seeks to bring a class action suit on behalf of shoppers (victims?) nationwide who have similarly been duped over the last four years into buying maple-less oatmeal.

The lawsuit follows a February 15 letter from the North American Maple Syrup Council urging the FDA to crack down on food companies whose labels incorrectly suggest the presence of maple syrup. That’s right. There’s a North American Maple Syrup Council.

The lawsuit seeks damages as well as new packaging. One wonders if Mr. Eisenlord could be bought off with a lifetime supply of (real) maple syrup?

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