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Lead Story

Writing in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, two Wisconsin researchers concluded that nose picking does not create problems for most people, but that for some the habit "may meet criteria for a disorder--rhinotillexomania." Among their survey findings: 66.4 percent of pickers did it to relieve discomfort or itchiness, 2.1 percent for enjoyment, and 0.4 percent for sexual stimulation. The researchers also found that 65.1 percent used the index finger, 20.2 percent the little finger, and 16.4 percent the thumb. The article stated that "once removed, the nasal debris was examined at least some of the time by most respondents."

The Litigious Society

Roger T. Martinez filed a $1 million slander suit in Los Angeles in August against his daughter's ex-boyfriend, comedian Paul Rodriguez. The lawsuit alleges that Rodriguez, in a TV comedy routine, falsely said Martinez had attacked him with a gun, that Rodriguez had gotten so scared he accidentally urinated, and that Martinez slipped on the urine and fell, giving Rodriguez time to escape unharmed.

Convicted murderer Allen Kinsella told an Ontario judge in November that he intends to sue Bath Institution prison officials. Kinsella, who was harshly punished after an escape, said that a ladder left behind by a construction crew and not removed by prison officials gave him the idea that he could slip away.

Canadian Olympic hockey team goalie Corey Hirsch threatened in February to file a lawsuit against the government of Sweden, which plans to issue a postage stamp depicting its dramatic 1994 victory over Canada. The winning goal was scored against Hirsch, who says that the image of him giving up the winning goal "is not the way I want to be remembered."

In January David Degondea, convicted of killing a police officer, filed a $3 million lawsuit against the New York City Police Department. He claims he's entitled to the money because officers injured him during the arrest and because the arrest resulted in a loss of earnings. Police evidence shows that Degondea's only occupation was dealing drugs.

The Headcorn Parachute Club in Kent, England, won a lawsuit in January against the estate of a deceased member for damaging its airplane when she fell into its moving propeller and was killed. And in August the Board of Veterans' Appeals granted survivor's benefits to a woman whose husband died of "service-related" injuries; the woman had shot her husband to death during a fight, but she successfully claimed that military stress had caused him to start the altercation.

Kenneth Abbott filed a lawsuit in December against state and local police over a traffic incident in Bowling Green, Kentucky, charging them with negligence for letting him off with a warning. Abbott, who was intoxicated at the time, subsequently caused a traffic accident and was charged with seven counts of wanton endangerment. He contends that if the officers had arrested him in the first place the accident never would have occurred.

In August a judge in Ogden, Utah, awarded $267 in damages to the owner of a dented car after a man admitted to having sex with a woman on the hood. The woman claimed that the two had sex on the ground next to the car. But her partner stuck to his story and then blamed her for causing the dents.

Last year two women filed lawsuits over injuries suffered in public rest rooms. In April a woman in Charleston, South Carolina, claimed that a toilet in Children's Hospital shattered beneath her, causing her to fall and injure her back. In December a woman in Clifton Park, New York, said an unsteady toilet at McDonald's caused her to be thrown against a wall and injure her arm, shoulder, and chest.

In September Joel Ford filed a $45 million lawsuit in Jackson, Mississippi, against Oxford University Press, which publishes an edition of the Bible, on the grounds that the Bible is based on hearsay and that it promotes the oppression of blacks and gays. He dropped the lawsuit one month later, saying he'd received threats on his life.

In October a judge in Oakland, California, ended Fred Whitaker's ability to use so-called "pauper's laws" to gain free access to state courts after Whitaker filed his 23rd petition to sue since 1987. Targets of his previous lawsuits, which the judge called frivolous, include a grocery store that accepted his coupon for 30 cents off Mug root beer but charged sales tax on the posted price, lowering his yield to 28 cents, and a video club that had issued him a coupon for one free video per month but declined to give him two videos one month after he pointed out that he hadn't used his coupon the previous month.

Least Competent Person

In December a student at Georgia Tech was hospitalized in serious condition after running down a long dormitory hallway at full speed and jumping through a window. According to campus police, the man might have panicked when a small fire broke out among papers in his room.

Least Justifiable Homicide

William Patrick Ford III, 15, was charged with the murder of a liquor store owner in Dundalk, Maryland, in February. According to police, Ford shot the man after being rebuffed when he asked for change for a dollar. The victim's last words were, "What do I look like, a bank?"

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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

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