Lead Story

In October the Ottawa Civic Hospital, anticipating a long-awaited visit by Princess Diana to its heart-patient wing, newly constructed and as yet without patients, gathered former patients who had been treated in other parts of the hospital to come to the heart wing, put pajamas on, lie in the beds, and greet the princess.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Jesus Henderson, 22, was arrested in August in Saint Paul, Minnesota, fleeing the sandwich shop he had just robbed. His escape dash happened to take him past a police precinct station during a shift change, when many officers were going in and out of the building.

Arthur Bringe, 60, a Chicago nursing home resident, tried to rob a branch of the First Chicago bank in May on the same day a nearby police precinct got paid. He was arrested when the teller signaled a uniformed sergeant in her line that Bringe had handed her a holdup note.

Michael Michell, 40, a prison escapee from Montana, was arrested in August while attending a Seattle Mariners game. He was in line at a souvenir stand right in front of Montana state prison warden Jack McCormick, who was attending the game while on vacation. McCormick later said: “He was real surprised to see me. I said, ‘Hi, Mike, how are you doing?'”

In May Donna Endicott, the victim of a recent car theft, was driving on I-84 near Portland, Oregon, when she noticed that the car in front of her was hers. She followed the car for about 20 minutes until it stopped in front of a house and two men got out, whereupon she jumped into it and drove away. The men had been robbing the house, and when they emerged they had no getaway car and were captured less than an hour later.

Terry Goodman, a construction worker in San Jose, California, won $89,000 in a May lawsuit for injuries resulting from a work accident. Goodman had been using a portable toilet when a forklift operator picked it up and moved it.

The Litigious Society

Last spring in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, Gladys Diehl and her husband filed a lawsuit against the Sealy mattress company and Hess’s department store, claiming that a 26-inch-long snake had been living inside they mattress they purchased. It was the couple’s second such mattress; after they felt “slithering” in the first one, they exchanged it for a second one, then felt slithering in that one, too. They took the second mattress to a testing laboratory, where the snake, by then dead, was discovered.

The National Easter Seal Society sued the American Lung Association (which uses “Christmas seals” to elicit contributions) last summer to prevent it from using the concept of “seals” for fund-raising.

Robert Young, 44, was murdered in San Francisco in February. Cleared in the case were Susan and David Beugen, whom police initially suspected because Young had filed 18 lawsuits against the couple in the previous eight years, claiming he felt cheated after purchasing two hair salons from the couple. Susan Beugen volunteered to start a defense fund for whoever murdered Young.

The verdict in the longest-running jury trial in U.S. history–involving a lawsuit against Monsanto over a 1979 toxic spill, settled for $16.25 million in 1987 after a 44-week trial and eight weeks of jury deliberation–was overturned on appeal in June.

Jeffrey Duhl filed a lawsuit in August against a luncheonette in Massapequa, New York, to recover the $1.50 “food sharing” fee he was charged. Duhl had taken several sips of his wife’s soup, and his wife had taken a bite of his meat loaf sandwich. Duhl said: “If the food is mine, I should be able to determine the use of it. Or are they only leasing it to us?”

The Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union recently threatened a lawsuit against the Dallas County sheriff’s department over its policy of issuing underwear to male inmates but not to females. Currently, females can bring their own underwear to jail provided it is white and not “frilly,” and indigent females can apply for free underwear.

In Los Angeles, a dispute between Video Exclusives (a maker of adult videos) and Creative Effects Studios resulted in a lawsuit, filed in August. Video Exclusives sought return of a $2,500 down payment on two pairs of breasts–to be worn by the lead actress in a story about a woman who undergoes surgery in order to have the world’s largest breasts–because the completed breasts (size 99 triple M and size 77 triple M, weighing 50 and 20 pounds per pair, respectively) were “unnatural” in size, shape, and texture.

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