An Inclusive Litany

11/14/01

In Germany, a 47-year-old judge sued the Coca-Cola company after developing diabetes, having convinced himself his consuming two bottles of the soft drink a day for many years, induced the disease. The judge plans to file a similar lawsuit against the manufacturer of Snickers, Milky Way, and Mars Bars.

Families of five Columbine High School shooting victims filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of an antidepressant drug one of the perpetrators, Eric Harris, was taking at the time of the massacre, and which is used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder.

A federal judge denied the city of Houston's request to throw out a lawsuit from a former ambulance driver who was fired after he stopped for donuts while transporting an injured patient to the hospital. He claims that had he been white rather than black, he would not have been disciplined as severely for the lapse.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of a man who was denied a job at an oil refinery after company doctors warned that since he had a chronic case of hepatitis C, he was especially susceptible to liver injury and even death following exposure to chemicals.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, while not allowed conjugal visits, male prison inmates serving life sentences in California have a "fundamental" right to procreate aided by artificial insemination and overnight delivery services, but that female inmates do not—yet. Also left unclear is the question of whether inmates may exercise the right to inseminate women to whom they are not married. (Note that of 90 Ninth Circuit rulings reviewed from 1996 to 2000, the Supreme Court reversed 77 of them.)

The National Labor Relations Board ruled that, contrary to years of employment harassment law, "abusive language, vulgar expletives, and racial epithets" on the part of union representatives are protected by federal law and should not be viewed by employers as grounds for discipline, because they are "part and parcel of the vigorous exchange that often accompanies labor relations." At issue was a case in which a union representative who, in a communication with management, grabbed his crotch and said, "suck my d***, you b****."

A class-action lawsuit against the producers of the ABC game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" that had previously been dismissed may get a new hearing following nonambulatory golfer Casey Martin's disability-rights victory over the PGA Tour. To qualify for the show, would-be contestants must answer questions within 10 seconds, using the keys on their push-button telephones. Plaintiffs allege that's not enough time for people with disabilities to react. (Qualifications have already been relaxed so that more female contestants would appear on the show.)

After a California woman plunged to her death from an amusement ride, her family sued the manufacturer, which claimed she was too large to be belted properly but that any restriction based on girth would have been met with lawsuits.

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