Don’t hit that send key unless you’re serious about spending months, even years, in court. Making your case can be tricky. Take heed from these unusual court cases that saw the light of day.
It’s Only Money
Being stingy got a divorcing couple a date with infamy in Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Russian natives Liudmila Niolaev and Pavel Fakhredinov skimped on legal costs by writing their own separation agreement in 2010. A family court judge called it “elegant in its simplicity.” Their trip to divorce court might have gone better if they hadn’t argued over who got the Canadian Tire money. The judge awarded them each $17.42.
Celebrity Windsor hairdresser Waddah Mustapha, who freaked out over dead flies in his Culligan Water dispenser, lost a Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) appeal because the company couldn’t foresee his extreme reaction. SCC overturned a $341,775 judgment from Ontario Superior Court of Justice, saying tort law is no insurance against psychological harm. Mustapha stopped drinking coffee and developed major depression, phobia and anxiety after spotting the flies, his lawyer argued.
TB or Not To Be
Mustapha v Culligan set a new standard for serious trauma. By the time 3,500 Durham-area patients sued Lakeridge Health Corporation in 2010, the courts had already determined “upset, disgust, anxiety, agitation or other mental states” short of injury got a failing grade. The litigants claimed they suffered psychological damage when Durham Public Health notified 4,402 clients that two Lakeridge patients had developed TB (tuberculosis). Only two of those notified were TB positive. The jury sided with Lakeridge that while they may have been shocked, their trauma wasn’t a recognizable psychiatric injury.
“Peculiar, Gory and Creepy”
A Chicago commuter’s estate was less successful. Gayane Zokhrabov sued Hiroyuki Joho’s estate administrator and won after the 18-year-old met his fate rushing to catch a train in pouring rain. Joho died when he was struck by an incoming Amtrak. His body was thrown into Zokhrabov, who was waiting for the 8:17 a.m. commute. The 58-year-old woman suffered a broken wrist and leg and injured shoulder. A court found it was reasonably foreseeable Joho’s body would be propelled onto the platform if he stepped onto the tracks.
A Schwing and A Miss
Who says judges can’t have fun? A West Palm Beach District Court judge told plaintiffs they’d have to “party on” in state court after hitting a “schwing and a miss”. The judge was a huge fan of Scarborough’s famous son, comic Mike Myers (photo courtesy IMDb|SNL), and co-conspirator Dana Carvey. His judgment read like a page from a Wayne’s World script. Prime Time Charters’ “bogus attempt” to remove the case from the district court slate and be heard in federal court met with a firm “Not!”
Alberta rancher Edouard Maurice was on the hook for $100,000 after accidentally winging a trespasser who tried to break into his vehicle. The lawsuit, for pain, discomfort, dizziness, nausea, etc., suffered when a .22 calibre warning shot went astray, has since been dropped. Along with criminal charges against the rancher. The trespasser, 38 km away from home at the time, has outstanding warrants for possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance and failing to attend court.
And Many More
Restaurant owners can have their cake and eat it after all. Multiple patent infringement lawsuits were launched in the mid-1990s against restaurants that serenaded customers on their special day with the “Happy Birthday” song. The tap was turned off in 2016 by a U.S. district judge who ruled while Warner/Chappell Music purchased the rights to the melody and piano arrangement in 1935, it didn’t own the lyrics.
Speaking of Cake
Same-sex Colorado couple Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins were so incensed when baker Jack Phillips refused their request for a custom wedding cake, they filed a civil rights complaint. They won at the commission and state superior court, but Phillips was narrowly successful at U.S. Supreme Court. The baker argued the request violated his religious freedoms. The 2018 victory doesn’t mean businesses can use their free speech rights to refuse to sell to same-sex couples. Rather, the court found Phillips was disadvantaged by comments by a civil rights commissioner who called his religion “despicable” and compared it to justifying slavery on religious grounds.
Making Your Case in Court
You wouldn’t be nearly so frivolous or would you? When you’re determined to have your day in court, make sure your affidavit:
- Plays by the rules, the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure.
- Uses all the right forms.
- Is accurate, relevant and complete.
- Is factual.
- Arrives on time.
On second thought, maybe hiring a lawyer or at least paralegal to assist you isn’t such a bad idea. After all, time is money.
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