News of the Weird
*Two Fremont, California, men obtained a patent recently for a golf club that will fire a ball up to 250 yards by detonation of an explosive charge in the club head.
*Two men who broke out of jail in Rutland, Vermont, in May were captured a week later, done in when police recovered a "things to do" list they had made to guide them in a post-escape robbery. In Dallas in May, Travis Crabtree, age fifteen, was indicted for murder, done in by a list of instructions he had written to himself for a robbery, including a reminder to kill the victim, which he allegedly did. In January in San Antonio, Texas, Jonathan Blaine Downey, age 26, was sentenced to ten years in prison for assembling fertilizer bombs to kill his enemies, done in when police found his list of seventeen targets.
The Litigious Society
*Sunrise, Florida, police sergeant Mark Byers filed a lawsuit in March against Jane Liberatore, a woman whom he rescued from an abusive husband. Byers suffered a permanent injury when he smashed through a door after the husband killed his wife's boyfriend and was about to attack her. He wants compensation because Liberatore's "immorality" put him in jeopardy. Said Byers's lawyer: "When you cheat on your husband and create the potential for murder [and] a police officer is injured as a result, you make your own bed, and you have to sleep in it."
*In January Jacquelynne Stafford filed a $300,000 lawsuit against the White Marsh (Maryland) YMCA because a runner crashed into her at second base during a league softball game, breaking her collarbone. League rules require runners to slide. The YMCA then sued the runner, his manager, the umpire, and the company that paid for the team's T-shirts for not ensuring that the sliding rule was observed.
*Diana J. Nagy filed a lawsuit in Charleston, West Virginia, against the manufacturer of the golf cart from which her husband fell to his death after he had been drinking during a tournament at the Berry Hills Country Club. She claimed the cart should have had seat belts and doors. Mrs. Nagy's son was driving the cart, so she sued him, too.
*In May the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the claim made in 1992 by Ms. Bobby June Griggs that South Carolina Electric and Gas Company is responsible for a nervous breakdown she suffered. Griggs entered a rice-recipe cook-off but became stressed and had to seek psychiatric help when the company, against her wishes, published the recipes of all contest entrants.
*In January Kevin McGuinness, who flunked out of the University of New Mexico medical school, filed a lawsuit accusing the school of failing to accommodate him under the Americans with Disabilities Act. McGuinness said his disability is that he is very anxious when he takes exams and consequently doesn't do very well.
*David Earl Dempsey, age 37, filed a lawsuit against Pima County, Arizona, and state officials in February for injuries suffered in a suicide attempt. He jumped out of a jailhouse window trying to hang himself with a bed sheet but hit the concrete after the sheet became unfastened. He had been arrested for mugging a woman, for which he was later convicted. Dempsey succeeded on a second suicide attempt shortly after filing the lawsuit.
*In April convicted murderer Gene Travis escaped from the maximum security prison in Cranston, Rhode Island, by hiding in a garbage truck. He failed to jump from the truck soon enough and was compacted with the driver's first load. He survived and was recaptured.
-- By Chuck Shepherd
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