Legal Brief: Trial Lawyers and the DOJ… Partners in Crime?; 4 our of 5 Dentists Warn: Frivolous Lawsuits Dangerous to Common Sense; Woman Sues After Being Left in Doghouse; Man Kan’t Spel, Sues Instead

Trial Lawyers and the DOJ… Partners in Crime?
As head of the U.S. Department of Justice, Attorney General Janet Reno currently oversees a $20 billion annual budget, and has over 9,100 lawyers at her disposal.

Make that 9,100 plus 40.

The Justice Department’s proposed budget for FY 2000 includes a request for $20 million to fund efforts to “recover the expenses of federal health care programs for tobacco-related illnesses.” With this $20 million, Attorney General Reno hopes to create new positions for 40 private personal injury lawyers, within DOJ, to litigate the tobacco case on the government’s behalf.

Attorney General Reno is also asking for $5 million additional dollars for anticipated costs of expert witnesses in tobacco litigation.

Trial lawyers and the Justice Department? This could be the start of a dangerous friendship.

4 our of 5 Dentists Warn: Frivolous Lawsuits Dangerous to Common Sense
Looks like our nation’s personal injury lawyers need to “brush up” on the benefits of proper oral hygiene, given their latest attempt to gum up the legal system with an ever-expanding list of products hazardous to your health.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Chicago lawyer Richard Applebaum has filed a class action lawsuit against toothbrush manufacturers for their alleged failure to warn consumers of the potential of “toothbrush related injury.” “People injure themselves using toothbrushes,” said Applebaum, “and there should be warnings and there should be precautions.”

The suit also names the American Dental Association for its endorsement, through the “seal of acceptance program,” of certain toothbrushes and tooth care products. ADA President Dr. Timothy Rose bristled at Applebaum’s “nonsensical” claims, saying, “We live in a litigious society. Anybody can sue, but that doesn’t mean the suit has merit. This one doesn’t.”

Woman Sues After Being Left in Doghouse
A deceased millionaire has left his longtime female companion in the financial doghouse in favor of another companion, his pet dog.

According to a recent Reuters report, Sidney Altman, who passed away in 1996, left $350,000 in his will to his 15-year old cocker spaniel, Samantha. Altman also left Samantha his Beverly Hills mansion, valued at $5 million. Meanwhile, 32-year old Marie Dana, Altman’s long-time human companion, was left an annual stipend of $60,000, and is allowed to remain living in the mansion provided she continues to care for Samantha. Altman’s will also stipulates that when Samantha dies, Dana loses her stipend and the house is to be sold. The proceeds of the sale are to be donated to animal charities.

Dana is suing for half the estate.

Let’s see: a $5 million home, plus $350,000 in cash. That comes out to about $37.5 million — in dog money.

Tort D’Jour
Man Kan’t Spel, Sues Instead
The Sacramento Bee reports that Lee Williams, 23, is seeking $25,000 in damages from a tattoo parlor for misspelling the word “villain” on his right forearm.

The problem is, the incorrect spelling (“villian”) came from Williams himself, who was unsure as to the spelling of the word upon entering the parlor. After much debate, Williams finally settled on the incorrect “villian.” In fact, Williams didn’t even notice the error until years later, when a friend made fun of him.

Williams got the tattoo in 1996, and claims it took $1,900 and “a scar as long as his forearm” to remove the misspelled word. Now he wants $25,000 for his own mistake.

No word yet on Williams’ plans for the money. Might Legal Briefs suggest a dictionary?

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.