The following true story came in first place in a Criminal Lawyers Award Contest.
A Charlotte, NC, lawyer purchased a box of expensive cigars, then insured them against fire (among other things).
Within a month having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the lawyer filed a claim against the insurance company. The lawyer claimed the cigars were lost “in a series of small fires.”
Naturally, the insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious, but the lawyer sued and won.
The judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous.
Nevertheless, the judge stated that the lawyer held a policy from the company in which it warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable fire, and was therefore obligated to pay the claim.
Rather than go through a costly appeal procedure, the insurance company paid the lawyer $15,000 for his loss.
After the lawyer cashed the $15,000 check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of arson.
With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000 fine.
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While the above story has a happy ending, sanity doesn’t always exist in legal matters, as exemplified by the following actual court cases.
On June 25, 2002, a woman was awarded $14.1 million by a NY state court after she was hit be a subway train. When it was later learned the woman had been attempting to commit suicide by lying on the tracks when the train hit her, the award was reduced 30 percent, to $9.9 million, because of her “comparative negligence.”
In 1998, Terrence Dickson of Bristol, PA, was in the process of burglarizing a house when he trapped himself in the garage which had a malfunctioning door opener and he was unable to re-enter the house because the door locked behind him. He spent eight days in the garage, surviving on a bag of dry dog food and a case of Pepsi. Dickson sued the homeowner’s insurance company, claiming undue mental anguish. The jury agreed and awarded him $500,000. Perhaps he should have sued his parents for mental incapacity as well.
In June, 1998, a similar solid citizen, 19-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles was awarded $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman was too busy stealing the hubcaps at the time to notice that someone was at the wheel.
In 2000, Amber Carson of Lancaster, PA, sued a restaurant because she slipped on a wet spot and injured herself. Even though the wet spot was created when she threw her drink at her boyfriend, 30 seconds earlier, the restaurant was ordered to pay $113,500 in damages.
Kara Walton of Claymont, DE, tried to sneak through a bathroom window at a nightclub to avoid paying a three dollar cover charge, fell to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. She sued the nightclub and was awarded $12,000 plus dental expenses.
In January, 2000, Kathleen Robertson of Austin, TX, sued a furniture store after breaking her ankle tripping over her own son who was running amuck inside the store. She was awarded $780,000.
In November, 2000, Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City purchase a brand new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On his first trip, Mr. Grazinski merged onto the freeway, set the cruise control to 70 mph and left the driver seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not too surprisingly to most people with an IQ above that of a turnip, the motor home crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not indicating in the handbook that he could not actually do this. He was awarded $1,750,000 plus a brand new Winnebago.
If it weren't for lawyers, we wouldn't need lawyers.
A friend from Minnesota recently told me that you could no longer dry your laundry on an outdoor clothesline in the suburbs surrounding Minneapolis. Apparently, it’s the law.
Most people I know just want to live a normal life with a basic set of rules protecting them from unreasonable intrusions of other citizens and government agents. Unfortunately, we live in a litigious world of overzealous lawmakers who often make a mockery of judicial restraint by forcing a multitude of rules upon society that seem outright ridiculous.
While researching legal sites on the Internet, I discovered numerous absurd laws that actually exist.
In spite of the principle of separation of church and state, many frivolous laws pertain only to Sunday.
• In Florida, it’s illegal for single, divorced, or widowed women to parachute jump on Sunday afternoons.
• In Massachusetts, it’s unlawful to deliver diapers on Sunday.
• In Thomasville, North Carolina, it’s illegal to fly an airplane over the town on Sundays between 11 AM and 1 PM.
• In Providence, Rhode Island, it’s illegal to sell both toothpaste and a toothbrush to the same customer on a Sunday.
Many laws still on the books are clearly out of date.
• In Hollywood, California, it’s illegal to drive more than 2000 sheep at the same time down Hollywood Boulevard.
• In Utah, it’s illegal for pharmacists to sell gunpowder as a headache cure.
• In Pennsylvania, motorists driving along country roads are required to stop every mile, send up a rocket and wait 10 minutes for the road to be cleared of livestock before continuing.
• In Nebraska, motorists approaching a horse at night are required to stop their vehicle, send up rockets and throw a tarp over their car to conceal it from the horse.
Special rules often exist for women.
• In Oklahoma, women are forbidden from doing their own hair, unless licensed by the state.
• In Cleveland, Ohio, women are not allowed to wear patent-leather shoes.
• In Michigan, a woman’s hair legally belongs to her husband.
• In Helena, Montana, a woman cannot dance on a saloon table unless her clothes weigh more than three pounds, two ounces.
• In Kentucky, a law reads that no female shall appear in a bathing suit on any highway within the state unless escorted by at least two officers or unless armed with a club. An amendment to this law states that it shall not apply to females weighing less than 90 pounds nor exceeding 200 pounds, nor shall it apply to female horses.
Some laws are downright insane.
• In Tennessee, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle while sleeping.
• In Alabama, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle while blindfolded.
• In Virginia, bribery is prohibited by anyone other than candidates for public office.
• In Seattle, Washington, it’s illegal to carry a concealed weapon greater than six feet long.
• In New Hampshire, it’s against the law to tap your feet or in any way keep time to the music in a tavern, restaurant or café.
• In Texas, to go barefoot requires a five-dollar permit.
• In Oregon, a dead person cannot be required to serve on a jury.
Naturally, all this nonsense has inspired me to come up with a few proposals of my own.
• In Alaska, it shall be illegal to put lipstick on a pit bull.
• In Arizona, it shall be illegal to refer to the Grand Canyon as a really big hole.
• In Arkansas, it shall be illegal to name a mule after a Baptist preacher.
• In California, it shall be illegal to yell "Fire" or "Charlie Sheen" in a crowded theater.
• In Delaware, it shall be illegal to refer to Joe Biden as the Veep of the Peeps.
• In Florida, it shall be illegal to sell sea shells by the seashore.
• In Georgia, it shall be illegal to expose a red neck or green teeth on Sunday.
• In Hawaii, it shall be illegal to refer to any body parts as the Big Kahuna.
• In Idaho, it shall be illegal to substitute a tomato for a potato in a public restaurant.
• In Iowa, it shall be illegal to wear a John Deere hat while driving a Massey-Ferguson tractor.
• In Kentucky, it shall be illegal to marry your first cousin until after her thirteenth birthday.
• In Maine, it shall be illegal to whistle near a moose during rutting season.
• In Maryland, it shall be illegal to name your first child Mary unless she's a Capricorn or a guy.
• In Massachusetts, it shall be illegal to graduate from college unless you can spell the name of the state.
• In Minnesota, it shall be illegal to fish from a three-legged stool on a frozen lake if it is not frozen.
• In Mississippi, it shall be illegal to utilize explosives or false teeth when catfish noodling.
• In Missouri, it shall be illegal to say “show me” to anyone wearing a raincoat on a sunny day.
• In Nebraska, it shall be illegal to call someone a cornhusker unless they can actually husk corn.
• In New Hampshire, it shall be illegal to ask someone whatever happened to Old Hampshire.
• In New Mexico, it shall be illegal to do the Mexican Hat Dance with an older hat.
• In New York, it shall be illegal to call yourself a Yankee Doodle Dandy unless you're a hairdresser.
• In Ohio, it shall be illegal to discard anything into Lake Erie that's more toxic than Courtney Love.
• In Oklahoma, it shall be illegal to use the phrase "sooner rather than later" during a marriage ceremony.
• In Rhode Island, it shall be illegal to tell tourists that they're really not an island.
• In South Dakota, it shall be illegal to ride a pink Cushman scooter into Sturgis during biker week.
• In Tennessee, it shall be illegal to operate a liquor still in a hollow within 20 feet of dead car.
• In Texas, it shall be illegal to wear a ten-gallon hat if you have a seven-gallon, or less, head.
• In Utah, it shall be illegal to have more than five wives if you can't count to six.
• In Wisconsin, it shall be illegal to wear a cheese-head hat in a duck blind.
• In Wyoming, it shall be illegal to have a powwow with a buffalo on Buffalo Bill's birthday.
I would have done all 50 states, but it's against the law.
Quote for the Day – "The trouble with law is lawyers." Clarence Darrow
Bret Burquest is the author of 12 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where outlaws keep a low profile.