Legally Speaking: Still more disorder in the court

John G. Browning Apr. 24, 2012, 5:00am

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the courthouse, here comes another assortment of the latest and wackiest stories from our legal system.

Stolen GPS Leads to Arrest

Twenty-year-old Ryan Jefferson probably should have planned things a little better. The Chicago man allegedly tied up employees and customers at a Radio Shack store before fleeing with $17,000 in stolen merchandise.

Unfortunately, for him, among the electronics equipment that he allegedly made off with was an assortment of global positioning (GPS) gear, and the police simply tracked him using the GPS signal. He was caught two hours after the theft and is now facing charges of armed robbery and aggravated kidnapping.

A Whiter Shade of Pale Ale?

The micro brewers behind Earl's Albino Rhino beer probably never saw this one coming. The company is fighting a complaint lodged with Canada's British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal by Ikponwosa Ero of Vancouver.

Ms. Ero claims that the name of the beer constitutes a human rights violation by singling out people like her who suffer from albinism—the absence of pigment from the skin, eyes, and hair. Nigerian-born Ero says that the product's name reminds her of the persecution that albinos have faced in society, particularly in Africa where albinos are frequently the victims of murder by superstitious villagers.

I'm not sure how making a reference on a beer label to white rhinos equates to a human rights violation against Ms. Ero, but that is for a judge to determine. Hopefully, Snooki from "The Jersey Shore" won't sue Tropicana because orange juice discriminates against those with spray-on tans.

Just Say No to Drugs

Brock Hopkins liked helping out at Great Bear Adventures Park in Montana. Unfortunately, he also liked to get high.

Hopkins recently brought a workers' compensation case against his employer following an incident in which he was mauled by a grizzly bear. Hopkins admittedly had smoked marijuana before feeding the grizzly bears, and one of the grizzlies attacked him, resulting in severe injuries to Hopkins' leg before he was able to crawl under a fence and escape.

Although Hopkins' employer challenged his workers' comp claim because smoking weed didn't exactly fit the job description, Judge James Shea of the Montana Workers' Compensation Court ruled for the mauled stoner, saying that the marijuana use had nothing to do with the attack.

Said Judge Shea, "It is not as if this attack occurred when Hopkins inexplicably wandered into the grizzly pen while searching for the nearest White Castle."

Blame It On McDonald's

Fast food restaurants like McDonald's have faced lawsuits over all kinds of claims, ranging from scalding hot coffee to morbid obesity. But a lawsuit recently filed by Shelley Lynn in California state court against McDonald's has got to be a first.

Lynn blames the fast food giant for turning her into a Las Vegas prostitute!

Lynn sued her ex-husband and former boss Keith Handley, his restaurant company Ivernia, and McDonald's, claiming that Handley hired her to work the counter at his McDonald's franchise in 1982 and eventually began a relationship with her. The two married in 1988 and, at some point, Lynn was fired.

Lynn says Handley pressured her into working at the Chicken Ranch, a legal brothel in Nevada, after buying her a Las Vegas house. Lynn maintains that McDonald's was negligent in hiring and supervising Handley, whom she accuses of running "pimping operations" out of the McDonald's franchise he owned.

She says that the fast food giant "failed to conduct a due diligence into the moral character of Handley when it sold franchise to him."

While Lynn's allegations seem like a stretch, who knows what the lawsuit could lead to—maybe even additions to the menu, like the "McHooker," the "McChicken Ranch," and the ... well, the Big Mac can stay the Big Mac.

Bizarre Reasons for Divorce

Unlike every state in America, Great Britain doesn't have a no-fault divorce law. As a result, some pretty strange things have been cited as grounds for divorce in English courts.

There was the man who maintained that his wife had "maliciously" served him tuna casserole (his least favorite dish); the woman who claimed that her husband demanded that she dress up as a Klingon and speak to him only in Klingon; the husband who insisted that his pet tarantula "Timmy" sleep in a glass terrarium next to the marital bed; the woman who claimed her husband hadn't spoken to her in 15 years, only communicating through Post-it notes; and the woman who argued that her 6-foot-3-inch tall husband was dressing in her clothes and "stretching all her best outfits."

The reason for such odd revelations in British divorce proceedings? Under current English law, divorces can only be granted under one of five categories, including adultery or abandonment.

A catch-all category is "unreasonable behavior," which accounts for about half of all divorces. Because one party has to be shown as behaving so unreasonably that it is no longer tolerable to live together, English divorce lawyers strain to come up with reasons why a court should hold a party at fault. How they keep a straight face in court is beyond me.

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