The foibles of human nature have provided ample fodder for Royal’s reports on the bizarre, lucicrous and flat-out unbelievable cases that have populated America’s legal system in recent years.
COPS TOO CLEVER FOR THE COURT
Two San Diego police officers have a suspect sit down next to a xerox machine, telling him it’s a lie detector machine. They put a metal salad bowl on his head, and wire the bowl to the machine. Then, they put a piece of paper in the copy machine that reads, “He’s lying.” Every time he answers a question, a cop presses the button, and out pops a xeroxed copy of “He’s lying.” He confesses.
Result: Confession was thrown out by the judge.
LOVE CONQUERS ALL
Exotic dancer “Chesty Love,” claims a $20,000 deduction on her taxes for the cost of surgical implants, which enlarge her bust size to a 56 FF. The IRS turns down the deduction, saying funds spent to improve a person’s health or appearance, are personal, not business expenses. She takes the IRS to tax court.
Result: Judge rules that the new breasts were so large and cumbersome (10 pounds each), there was no personal benefit. She ruled the implants “contorted her body into a grotesque appearance, all for the making of money.” The judge pointed out Chesty Love’s income went from $1,600 a month to $14,000 a month, after the operation.
LOAFING IN PRISON
Inmates at the Vancouver, Washington County jail sue the jail to prevent the serving of “nutra-loaf,” a beige casserole, consisting of beef or chicken chunks, apples and eggs. A nine ounce slab is a complete meal. Jail officials defended the loaf-style meals, saying they prevent the prisoners from assaulting each other with chicken bones, or celery stalks.
Results: The judge rules the loaves are not cruel and unusual punishment.
BODYBUILDERS RUN OUT OF PATIENCE
Two female bodybuilders, at a rock concert in Costa Mesa, emerge from the ladies room and are blocked by four police officers, who question whether they are women. The woman says, “Everything’s cool. We’re women. We’re bodybuilders, and people have made this kind of mistake before because of our muscles.” One officer says, “You’re in Costa Mesa now. You look like transsexuals to me. Are you in the middle of a sex change operation?” He then demands the women prove their gender. The women, who hail from Texas, sue for harassment and emotional distress.
Result: Lawsuit settled for $50,000.
CASINO 1, VIBRATOR 0
A Reno man uses a hidden microcomputer to help him “count cards” at blackjack. The computer was hidden in his shoe, and when he would tap his toes a certain number of times, depending on what cards were revealed, the computer would transmit a message to a vibrating device placed inside his athletic supporter, telling him what to do. A casino learns about his scheme, and bans him from playing, saying he violates the rule against “artificial devices.” He sues the casino.
Result: The casino wins; a computer qualifies as an “artificial device.”
AN IRREGULAR SPELLING
A Conway, Arkansas baker customer complains that a birthday cake contained a misspelling. The owner apologizes and agrees to give the customer a second cake, free of charge. The baker took the criticism personally, and spiked the second cake with laxatives. The birthday boy and 16 of his staff members shared the cake. The baker then faced 16 counts of battery.
Result: The baker copped a plea to “malicious mischief.”
JURY POOH-POOHS CASE
A nine-year old boy claims he suffered a concussion after he was slapped by a Disneyland employee dressed as “Winnie the Pooh.” Disney calls the Pooh character as a witness, and shows the jury the costume had no working arms.
Result: The jury takes sixteen minutes to decide in favor of Disneyland.
JELLO JUMP TURNS TRAGIC
An Albany, New York medical center puts on a fair to raise money, and fills a swimming pool with strawberry Jello. For $5, people jump into the pool and root around for prizes. A man jumps in, fracturing his ankle, and breaking two toes. He sues the medical center.
Result: The jury votes for the medical center. A representative says, “it will probably be our last Jello jump.”
NEVER VISIT YOUR GROCERY’S RESTROOM
Manhattan Beach woman visits a public restroom at a grocery store. She notices two small boys running away from the restroom. She sits down on the commode, but when she tries to get up, she’s stuck. The boys had put glue on the toilet seat. Paramedics are called. She’s extricated, but claims her $10,000 wristwatch disappeared in the confusion. She sues for emotional distress, humiliation, minor skin loss and the loss of the wristwatch.
Result: Arbitrator gives her $14,000, but she rejects it, seeking a jury trial. The jury gives her nothing.
THE JURY THAT PARTIES TOGETHER, DELIBERATES TOGETHER
Jacksonville, Florida jury in a mail fraud case had lunch together every day. Average lunch? Three pitchers of beer, mixed drinks, a carafe of wine, and four jurors regularly smoked marijuana during the trial. One juror tells the judge, “We felt we were on one big month-long party.” When word of the party leaks out, the man convicted of mail fraud appeals.
Result: United States Supreme Court says drugs and alcohol do not rise to the level of “outside influence,” such as bribery or threats, required to overturn a verdict.
CODGER CREMATES CRIME CLUE
Elderly lawyer for an accused drunk driver asks to view the videotape the police took when they arrested his client on the highway. Bailiff tells him he can watch the tape in the jury room. Fifteen minutes later the bailiff walks in, and sees the videotape lying in a microwave oven, with the attorney pressing the buttons. The lawyer is arrested for destroying evidence.
Result: The judge throws out the charges, admitting that “in all fairness, the microwave does look a little like a television.”
Criminal defense attorney Clark Head, of Calaveras County, California appeals the conviction of his client on burglary charges. Head argues that during his final argument, the prosecuting attorney “broke wind about 100 times.” Head argues the jury was severely distracted, and that the prosecutor “even lifted his leg several times.”
Result: Conviction affirmed; the prosecutor’s conduct was “harmless error.”
THE PRICE OF ENVIRONMENTALISM
Alameda County woman, concerned about the environment, refuses to paint her house with oil-based or water-based paint, and instead chooses a “milk-based” paint, which was billed as natural, and ecology friendly. After the house was painted, she detected a sickening odor which she claims resulted in illness. She sues the manufacturer of the paint.
Result: Paint company wins.
CLAD ONLY IN A BIKINI AND A NECK BRACE
Pennsylvania woman sues the state after she’s injured in a car crash, claiming the highway was unsafe. During the trial her ex-husband gives the state a video taken during the time she claims she was in unbearable pain. It shows that, during “biker week” in Daytona Beach, Florida, the ex-wife, clad in a bikini, wrestled another woman in a vat of coleslaw.
Result: Jury votes against the ex-wife.
CORPULENT CINEMAPHILES CRAVE COMFORT
Santa Cruz’ “Body Image Task Force” sues a chain of movie theaters for violation of Santa Cruz’ ban on discrimination based on appearance. They say overweight moviegoers can’t fit into the seats that are designed for people only 18” wide.
Result: Settled when theaters agree to put in love seats, with removable armrests.
STINKY LADY TURNS LITIGIOUS
A clerk at Citicorp Bank in New York sued her fellow employees, claiming they refused to help her in her attempt to control her body odor problem. She said all she wanted was for someone at the company to discreetly let her know when her odor problem flared up. Instead, the company criticized her. At the trial, one fellow employee said she vomited from the stench. The woman sued, seeking $1.2 million in damages.
Result: Citicorp wins. The foreman said the panel felt the whole matter was a waste of taxpayers’ time.
X-RATED GAME FILMS
A husband-and-wife team of college gymnastic coaches are fired after home videos of their lovemaking sessions are accidentally played as part of their students’ training films. Then, student reporters at the school’s newspaper demand the videos be made public, claiming the law says evidence used by a public institution to justify a firing must be released. The school’s lawyer says the kids are just looking for a cheap thrill.
Result: The tapes are not released.
NAVY CHECKMATES BISHOP
Episcopal bishop, playing tennis in Orlando, Florida on courts owned by the United States Navy, injures his knee. He claims the Navy negligently allowed algae to grow. He sues, saying he can never again genuflect before the altar, and seeks $200,000.
Result: The Navy wins. The court pointed out the injury occurred in the third set, so the bishop should have known the courts were slippery.
BIG FUN IN KENNY LAKE
Wedding reception in Kenny Lake, Alaska gets out of hand when, after the guests had some wine and marijuana, out came the guns and handcuffs. The bride claims she can shoot the handcuffs off the wrists of one of the guests. She misses, shooting his hand instead.
Result: The wife is found guilty of third degree assault.
FARMER HAS BUT ONE TRUCK TO GIVE TO HIS CITY
An Oregon farmer parks his truck in town, and goes shopping. He returns to find the truck has been in the middle of a shoot-out between the police and a bank robber. The police dismantle the truck to get the bullets, then return the truck to the farmer in pieces. He sues for the $2,300 it costs to put the truck back together.
Result: Oregon Supreme Court rules for the city, saying reassembling your vehicle is like performing a civic duty, such as serving on the jury.
DEFENDANT COPS A POEM
New York man goes on trial for forging his mother’s signature on seven checks, and faces seven years in prison. His mother, who turned him in, reconsiders, and begs the court for leniency.
Result: The judge agrees to dismiss the charges, but only if the man recites in open court Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Mother O’ Mine.”
BEETLE + YOGURT = “WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?”
Twenty-year-old New York college student, instead of tasting fruit at the bottom of her yogurt, bites down on a large black beetle. She sues, claiming the incident made her hair fall out, which caused her to develop an inferiority complex, which caused her to drop out of school and become a recluse.
Result: She wins $425,000.