News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*The Brooklyn, New York, organization Shalom Bayis ("Household Peace" in Hebrew) closed down its 24-hour mistress hotline in January after an unfavorable New York Daily News story. A Shalom Bayis spokesman said the hotline's purpose was to place its 40 volunteer mistresses with unsatisfied husbands in order to stop the "plague of divorce" menacing Jewish couples. Although Shalom Bayis claimed to accept no fees for its services, staffers did admit after the Daily News story that most of the callers were single or happily married men who just wanted sex.

*Wrong place, wrong time: Phoenix cosmetic surgeon Steven Locniker, on the lam to avoid child-support charges, was arrested in September after he called attention to himself as Cosmopolitan magazine's "Bachelor of the Month." And Thomas Georgevitch, age 22, on the lam for impersonating a police officer, was arrested in Bay Shore, New York, in October after a detective heard him call in to a radio station to make a song request. And Tom Tipton, age 63, wanted on two warrants in Minneapolis, was arrested in November when a sheriff's officer recognized him as the man singing the national anthem before the Vikings-Broncos game.

The Litigious Society
*Chris Morris filed a one-million-dollar lawsuit against the state of Michigan in November, claiming that he caught a cold in the rotunda of the state capitol while viewing an art exhibit there earlier in the year.

*Dale L. Larson's $41,000 trial-court award was upheld in October by a Wisconsin appeals court, which agreed with the trial court that the Indianhead golf course in Wausau was 51 percent responsible for Larson's needing nine root canals and twenty-three dental crowns. Larson tripped on his golf spikes and fell hard on his face on a brick path outside the clubhouse; he argued that he wouldn't have fallen if there had been a smooth concrete sidewalk rather than a brick path. The trial court had found that only 49 percent of the accident was due to Larson's having consumed thirteen drinks that evening, which left him with a blood-alcohol level of 0.28 an hour and a half after the fall.

*Andrew Daniels filed a $500,000 lawsuit against M&M/Mars Co. and a Cleveland retailer because one of the peanut M&Ms he bit down on contained no peanut. As a result he bit through his lip, leading to hospitalization and surgery bills. One claim against the retailer was made under the legal theory of the company's "failure to inspect" the candy.

*In August Julie Leach filed a lawsuit in Macomb County, Michigan, seeking at least $10,000 from the owners of a beagle named Patch, which Leach said was constantly enticing her German shepherd Holly to chase him. In 1995, during one of Patch's escapades, the pursuing Holly was killed by a car. Leach says Patch's owners should pay for permitting their dog to harass Holly.

*Jamie Brooks, age eighteen, filed a five-million-dollar claim against Kiowa County, Oklahoma, in June, asserting that it is the county's fault she became pregnant six months earlier while in jail awaiting her murder trial. She said the father is inmate-trusty Eddie Alonzo, who had access to the hallways and who, she said, impregnated her through the bars of her cell.

*In July Alex Alzaldua filed a $25,000 lawsuit against Dennis Hickey in Raymondville, Texas, alleging injuries caused by his "suddenly, without warning" having tripped over Hickey's dog, lying in the kitchen. According to the lawsuit, Hickey should have warned Alzaldua that he was walking around in the kitchen "at his own risk" and that Hickey had failed to warn Alzaldua of "the dog's propensity to lie in certain areas."

-- By Chuck Shepherd