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In December Dominique Gosbout, of Abitibi, Quebec, petitioned the legislature to restore one word of the province's old civil code. In the new 1992 code, article 441 lists the only obligations of married persons as "respect, fidelity, care and help." For the first time in 200 years "love" is no longer required.

The Litigious Society

In July retired Air Force major Bill Smith filed a lawsuit in Fort Worth, Texas, against the estate of Elvis Presley, charging that the estate has been "perpetrating a fraud" that Presley died in 1977. Smith says the estate's "claim" interferes with his attempts to sell his books on Elvis's current whereabouts.

Vicki Jo Daily, 36, filed a lawsuit in July in Jackson, Wyoming, against the widow of the man she collided with and killed in a February accident. The 56-year-old victim's snowmobile had suddenly cut in front of Daily's pickup truck, and he died at the scene. Police said Daily was free of blame, but she now wants money from the widow for the "grave and crippling psychological injuries" she suffered watching the man die.

In December a New York appeals court rejected Edna Hobbs's lawsuit against the company that makes a device called the Clapper, which turns your appliances on when you clap. Hobbs claimed she had to clap too hard and hurt her hands. "I couldnt peel potatoes. I never ate so many baked potatoes in my life. I was in pain." The judge said Hobbs had merely failed to adjust the sensitivity controls.

In December a judge in Martinez, California, dismissed the lawsuit filed by Mike and Jo Ann Hansen on behalf of their son, who complained that math teacher Eric Henze gave him a C for a course even though he'd earned an A on the final exam.

In September 1992 Darryl Washington and Maria Ramos were injured when a train plowed into them as they were having sex on a mattress on the tracks in a New York City subway station. The injuries weren't severe thanks to a quick-acting motorman. Nonetheless, according to a December 1993 story in the New York Daily News, the couple has filed a lawsuit against the transit authority for "carelessness, recklessness and negligence." Said the couple's attorney, "Homeless people are allowed to have sex, too."

In November a court in Vancouver awarded David Mattatall $632 in medical costs and other expenses stemming from a car "accident" in 1991; Mattatall had sued his mother for closing her car door on the paw of Mattatall's cat Daisy. Mattatall's mother will also lose her safe-driving insurance discount, but Daisy will not benefit from the $632, since she was subsequently run over by another car.

In September John L. Demirjian filed a lawsuit against California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, claiming he was improperly dismissed as a student in the teaching-certificate program. Demirjian claims the real reason for his ouster was "unsubstantiated rumors" that he ate cookies around the department in a sloppy manner and that he had a flatulence problem. According to the lawsuit, "There is no physical evidence that any gas was passed, or... any authentication as to [its] point of origin."

According to the December State Legislatures magazine, Kansas is poised to toughen its worker-compensation laws because a former insurance commissioner was awarded $95,000 in benefits last year. The commissioner's physician also filed a claim alleging that he suffered injuries from having to sit so often in a cramped witness stand while testifying in worker-compensation cases.

Ernesto Mota, 32, who suffered brain damage when he swallowed the contents of a bag of cocaine in a police station so that it could not be used against him as evidence, recently filed a $7 million lawsuit against the city of Oak Forest, Illinois. Mota claims the police should have stopped him, or failing that, should have called medics more quickly.

Mansfield, Ohio, prison inmates Paul B. Goist, 27, and Craig A. Anthony, 28, filed a lawsuit in December against General Foods, alleging that the company failed to give them notice that Maxwell House coffee is addictive. They seek $20,000 as compensation for the headaches and insomnia they're suffering.

The Weirdo-American Community

The county medical examiner in Syracuse, New York, resigned in November to avoid further investigation of charges that he'd removed organs from corpses without the families' permission and that he'd failed to manage the office properly. Included in the latter charge was an incident in which two men (both with child-sex convictions) entered the office, opened and stitched up a corpse, and photographed one of them with the corpse.

Least Competent People

An official of the Louisiana lottery told the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate in December that the most inept case of attempted lottery fraud he's seen involved a man, his daughter, and her boyfriend. Each had a "winning" lottery ticket that had obviously been taped together using parts of other tickets. A lottery official tried to discourage the three from pressing their claim, informing them of the penalties for lottery fraud. The father and daughter immediately abandoned the scheme, but the boyfriend stuck to his story and was eventually convicted and imprisoned.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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