Lead Story

In separate incidents this spring three men died in mishaps on bridges in Portland, Oregon, and two others survived long falls. One man was crushed as a drawbridge opened, three fell after apparently losing their balance walking across a bridge (one survived), and a 19-year-old attempted suicide by leaping off a bridge–but was plucked, alive, from the Willamette River. In addition to the bridge incidents, a 35-year-old man suffered broken legs after he jumped several stories from a window of a downtown Portland hotel in April.

The Litigious Society

The Atlanta Constitution reported that “U-John, King Priest of the Universal Sovereign” filed a $10 trillion lawsuit in U.S. district court in Atlanta in April against 36 Bible-based religions for years of “fraud, breach of duty, global disruption of peace, slander, blasphemy and wanton greed.”

In March in Carrollton, Missouri, a 32-year-old man, who is a former municipal-road-crew member, sued the city for sexual harassment he says he endured over a nine-year period. The man claims his male colleagues taunted him sexually, exposed their genitals, and fondled his “breasts,” which are large because he is overweight.

In June in Santa Rosa, California, a 49-year-old woman whose son fatally shot his father in December during a domestic squabble filed a $100,000 lawsuit against the city and Sonoma County. The woman claims that her husband’s brain had fallen on the floor when the coroner came for his body, that the coroner failed to remove it, that eventually it wound up in a county landfill, and that the brain is important to the case because the son is claiming that his father’s chronic alcohol abuse led him to batter the family.

Donald Terrell, 60, filed a lawsuit in Akron, Ohio, in May, charging that urologist Jack Summers should have given him a three-piece inflatable penile implant but instead gave him a two-piece job, which failed to work because Terrell’s penis is so large.

In February Monique Louise Cote filed a lawsuit against Cineplex Odeon and one of its employees, Sara Louise Carr, for injuries in a 1991 incident at a theater in Calgary, Alberta. Cote claimed that Carr improperly charged her extra for buttered popcorn at the refreshment stand and then, after an argument, followed Cote back to her seat, grabbed her hair from behind, pulled it from side to side, and shouted obscenities until other theater personnel restrained her.

A California court of appeals turned down a lawsuit in November by stuntman Frank Sanza against a production company that directed him to ride a tricycle into a fireworks booth for a movie scene. Sanza said that he had noticed beforehand that the booth was not made of the usual “collapsible” material and that he had asked for but was not given a “protective [scrotal] cup” in case he was thrust against the tricycle’s handlebars. He had proceeded with the stunt anyway and sustained a serious scrotal injury. The court ruled that Sanza had “assumed the risk.”

Names From Hell

In June a judge told an Army sergeant that he would have to wait 30 days to undo the name change that he had just been granted and about which he was having second thoughts. The sergeant, Tyrone Victor Wright, had changed his name to “Jesus Christ Hallelujah.”

According to the Washington Post, an interfamily conflict kept Imelda Marcos from the recent wedding of her son, Bong Bong.

Among those arrested in New Haven, Connecticut, during a marijuana bust last year: 25-year-old Victorious Sweat.

The chief Republican involved in raising money to put Oklahoma’s natural history museum in Norman is named E.Z. Million.

One of the organizers of an “alternative,” proenvironment regatta in Seattle over Memorial Day weekend was veteran sailor Bo Nanna.

Among the names given by parents to their children, according to Virginia state records: Salts, Alien, Navel, New Fang, Nicey Horsie, Molegold, Comfort Care, Turnipseed, and Cigarette.

The Weirdo-American Community

Robert J. Belka, 56, a magistrate in Loudon County, Virginia, was found guilty in May of sexual solicitation by sending undercover police a coupon entitling the bearer to have sex with him. Investigators said Belka, who published a local swingers’ magazine, often sent unsolicited nude photos of himself to people who had appeared in his court, but Belka denied that the practice constituted an abuse of his power.

I Don’t Think So

The American Medical Association News reported in March that a federal appeals court reversed a trial court ruling and rejected a woman’s claim that her insurance company should pay for a $400 wig to improve her self-esteem after she started losing hair. Her insurance policy specifically excludes providing wigs, but the woman had tried to get around the exclusion by calling hers a “full cranial prosthesis.”

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