• Kat Crossley

2012: The Legal Year in Review


It’s been a big year of legal news, with plenty of major cases decided, a new Australian law school announced, and Justices Gageler and Keane appointed to the High Court. But the legal world also saw some more unconventional headlines this year. Here are twelve of the most unusual legal stories of 2012…

January

The year got off to an interesting start with a man suing Pepsi Co after he found a dead mouse in his can of Mountain Dew. Pepsi’s lawyers disputed his claim, arguing that the drink would have dissolved the mouse into jelly by the time he consumed it.

February

In America, five killer whales sued Sea World. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals brought the action on behalf of the whales, claiming that keeping the animals in tanks and having them perform amounted to slavery and violated the 13th Amendment. The judge later ruled that although the amendment doesn’t expressly refer to people, it was interpreted as only applying to humans.

March

A nine year old was more than a little perplexed when he was mistakenly summoned for jury duty this this month. Talking about the summons, the third grader said: “I was like, ‘what’s a jury duty?’”

April

A New Jersey family sued their landlord for a refund of their bond, claiming that the rental property was haunted and they were unable to live in it. The landlord counter-sued the tenants for breaking their lease.

May

Battling a speeding fine, one Queensland man decided to think outside the box. The driver argued s115 of the Australian Constitution, which states: “A State shall not coin money, nor make anything but gold and silver coin a legal tender in payment of debts.” He said that as there were no gold or silver coins in circulation, he was legally unable to pay the $200 fine. The judge dismissed his claim.

June

A lawyer from Florida was left disappointed after he failed to convince a judge to grant a break in a trial so he could participate in an Earnest Hemingway look-alike competition.

July

Creators of the deep-fried Mars Bar revealed that they were applying to the European Union’s Protected Food Name Scheme to have the delicacy’s Scottish heritage recognised and protected by law.

August

We all know that writing court documents can be tricky, but one lawyer opted for a different approach. Limited to a five-page brief, the lawyer spent August summing up and sketching his arguments before submitting them to the court in cartoon format.

September

Spanish woman Cecilia Gimenez became an overnight sensation after her failed attempt at restoring a fresco of Jesus earlier this year. The eighty-year-old later hired lawyers and threatened the church with court action to obtain royalties from the admission fees charged to curious visitors.

October

Is this the next legal frontier? An American lawyer captured legal imaginations when he announced that he was compiling a book of court cases that mentioned zombies. As interest in his undead project spread, he announced that he already has plans for a similar project... involving ninjas.

November

One driver found herself receiving a rather unusual sentence. A Cleveland judge ordered the woman spend two hours standing at an intersection wearing a sign that said: "Only an idiot drives on the footpath to avoid a school bus."

December

An unhappy bride successfully sued her seamstress after the zipper on her wedding dress broke an hour before the ceremony, causing wedding festivities to be delayed as the bride was stitched into her dress by hotel staff.

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