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Suzuki Scammed Them, 19 Customers Say
Headline News | 2008/05/19 15:50
Nineteen plaintiffs claim a Suzuki dealer offered them a free new car if they drove a promo vehicle for $43 a month for a year, then tricked them into signing purchase contracts for as much as $50,000.

Chad Franklin Suzuki made other promises on which it failed to deliver, the plaintiffs claim in Wyandotte County Court. They claim the dealer said the promo was an effort to get more Suzukis on the road, and that after leasing the cars for $43 a month for 6 or 12 months, they could "return the car and obtain a new car at no cost."

It was a scam, the plaintiffs say. They claim that when they turned in the car for a new one, the defendants subtracted the depreciated value of the old car from the second vehicle, told them "they were no longer in the program," and charged them $16,000 to $26,000 for the new cars, which, financed with "excessive costs," sometimes left them owing more than $50,000.

These defendants are accused of participating in the alleged scam: CFS Enterprise Inc. dba Chad Franklin Suzuki and/or Legends Suzuki, Wells Fargo Bank NA, Wells Fargo Auto Finance, Fifth Third Bank, Americredit Financial Services, and American Suzuki Motor Corp.

Plaintiffs are represented by Charles Kugler of Kansas City, Kan.


Missouri Mom Charged In 'Cyber Bullying' Suicide
Headline News | 2008/05/16 14:58

Federal prosecutors have charged a Missouri woman with creating a fraudulent MySpace account and using it to "cyber bully" a 13-year-old Missouri girl who committed suicide, in a case that drew national attention.

Using a criminal statute most often used to go after computer hackers, prosecutors charged Lori Drew, the mother of a former friend of Megan Meier, who hanged herself.

Drew, 49, of Dardenne Prairie, Mo., allegedly claimed to be a boy who befriended Meier online and then turned on her.

The case was filed in Los Angeles because Drew is accused of providing fraudulent information to MySpace, which is based in Beverly Hills. It accuses Drew of one count of conspiracy and three counts of illegally using MySpace computers to inflict emotional distress on a child.

Drew allegedly created an account in the name of an imaginary boy, Josh Evans, used it to get information about Meier, and then used the information to inflict emotional distress on the girl.

U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said it was the first such use of the statute in the nation.

Megan Meier hung herself in the small, wealthy town of 7,400 in October 2006, allegedly about an hour after receiving a message from the fictional boy stating, "The world would be better without you."

Previously, the fictional boy had sent Meier messages such as, "I love you so much," the complaint states.



Widow Says Hamster Virus Killed Husband
Headline News | 2008/05/13 15:26
A transplant recipient died of a virus he contracted from the donor, who got it from her pet hamster, the recipient's widow claims in Superior Court. Three other, similar claims have been filed, at least one of them alleging the organ recipient died from the hamster's virus.

Mary Petraszewski claims her husband, John, received a lung transplant at a Massachusetts hospital on April 10, 2005, and died of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) 23 days later.

She claims the unnamed donor contracted the disease from her pet hamster, which she bought at Petsmart store in Warwick, R.I., which bought it from the defendant in this case, MidSouth Distributors of Ohio.

She claims that "scientists determined" that her husband died of LCMV that the donor got from her hamster.

Petraszewski claims it was "practical and feasible" for MidSouth to screen its rodents for LCMV, but "Defendant completely failed to conduct such screening."

Petraszewski's complaint names three other organ recipients, all of whom, she says, "have similar cases pending in this court."


Theft Of $1 Million In Comics Followed By Death Threat
Headline News | 2008/05/12 14:44
A comic book auctioneer - Jay Parrino's The Mint - duped a collector for five comic books worth a total $1 million, and threatened to kill him if he took legal action about it, the collector claims in Jackson County Court.

Plaintiff Jaquiez Douglas claims he inherited the comic book collection of his late father, which included first editions from the 1930s in mint collection. Among them, he says, were Action Comic No. 1 of 1938, Detective Comic Nos. 1 and 27 of 1939, The Incredible Hulk No. 1 of 1962 and X-Men No. 1 of 1963.

Defendant Lee Parrino, of Lee's Summit, runs his store, Jay Parrino's The Mint, in Blue Springs, the complaint states.

Douglas claims Parrino offered to pay him "top dollar" for items from Douglas' collection, then after accepting delivery of 46 books, claimed the five books above "were missing." But Douglas says Parrino is advertising for sale on its Web site Action Comic No. 1 and Detective Comic No. 1.

Douglas claims Parrino has all 46 comic books, and that "When Douglas told Defendant Jay Parrino he would initiate legal action to recover the comic books, Defendant Jay Parrino threatened Douglas and said if Douglas tried 'to make trouble' then Defendant Jay Parrino 'would have [Douglas] knocked off.'" (Bracketed word in brackets in complaint.)

Douglas says he and his attorneys have tried to get the police to intervene, but "law enforcement personnel have indicated on each occasion that this is a civil matter and have refused to take action."


Arapaho Man Who Killed Bald Eagle Loses Ruling
Headline News | 2008/05/09 14:49

A member of the Northern Arapahos in Wyoming faces trial for shooting and killing a bald eagle as a sacrifice for the tribe's Sun Dance religious ceremony. The 10th Circuit upheld the Bald and Golden Eagle Act, which makes it illegal to shoot eagles, as the "least restrictive means of pursuing the government's compelling interest in preserving the bald eagle."

The ruling reversed a federal judge's decision for Winslow Friday, who argued that his "taking" is exempt from the act because the Sun Dance and its offerings are important religious rituals for Plains Indian tribes. Friday's cousin, Nathaniel, was the sponsor for the 2005 ceremony, which meant his family was responsible for getting the materials for the ceremony - including an eagle. During the dance, the tribe offers up the tail fan of an eagle to the Creator by raising it on a pole.

The government charged Friday with violating federal law by shooting the eagle used in the Sun Dance.

Friday did not have the permit needed to take an eagle for religious purposes, but his lawyers argued that he would not have been granted one had he applied.

The court rejected this claim, saying the government occasionally grants tribal permits. And while the circuit judges understood the district court's frustration with the "biased and protracted nature" of the permit process, they said the law is not futile.

"We cannot deny the government its authority to enforce a congressionally enacted criminal statute based on no more evidence than this," Judge McConnell wrote



Forest Service May Redact Identities In Fire Report
Headline News | 2008/05/05 14:44
The U.S. Forest Service is not required to disclose the identities of employees who responded to a 2003 wildfire near Idaho's Salmon River that killed two Forest Service workers, a 9th Circuit panel ruled.

The court dismissed a complaint filed by the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, a public watchdog group that sought a copy of the Forest Service's investigation of the deaths of firefighters Shane Heath and Jeff Allen, who died while fighting the Cramer Fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

Three other federal agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, conducted similar investigations and criticized the Forest Service's response to the fire. The OSHA issued several citations against the agency for creating dangerous working conditions. By the Forest Service's own account, management failings had contributed to the deaths.

The Forest Service said it disciplined six employees involved in the fire, but withheld their names and identifying information due to privacy concerns.

The appellate court upheld the agency's decision, saying disclosure could cause "embarrassment, shame, stigma and harassment" for anyone associated with the tragedy.

The court also appeared skeptical that the plaintiff needed the information to launch its own investigation. The only new information that the group could exhume after four full investigations was the identities of the Forest Service employees, whom the group said it plans to contact. This stated purpose does not justify disclosure, the court ruled.

It concluded that releasing the information would not "appreciably further the public's interest in monitoring the agency's performance during that tragic event." 


Author Of 'The River Why' Sues To Stop Film
Headline News | 2008/05/01 14:30

David Duncan, author of "The River Why," had sued a husband and wife, and their film companies, and Sierra Club Books, claiming Sierra resold movie rights to his book, without his permission and without paying him, after an initial option expired.

Duncan, author of the critically acclaimed "River Why" and "The Brothers K," sued Thomas Cohen dba Hammermark Productions, and Cohen's wife, Kristi Denton Cohen dba Peloton Productions, in Federal Court.

Duncan says Denton Cohen, who makes corporate training films, claims to have acquired rights to his book from her husband, a Marin County attorney. "This right, however, was not Cohen's to give," Duncan says.

Duncan claims the Cohens and Sierra Club Books perpetrated "a fraudulent scheme," in which Sierra, purporting to act as his agent, sold Hammermark film rights to the book. But Hammermark never exercised the option, Duncan says.

The complaint continues: "SCB, in violation of its fiduciary duty owed to Duncan, revived Hammermark's expired option without any consideration after Hammermark purportedly assigned the rights to Cohen and Cohen offered SCB an opportunity to invest on its own account in the film production. Even in the absence of this fraudulent conduct, Duncan terminated Hammermark's right to prepare a film derivative work in 1993 because Hammermark failed to fulfill its obligations within a reasonable time. ... Duncan has gone to great lengths in an effort to resolve the impasse created by Denton Cohen's insistence that she owns the film rights to the book and SCB's faithless conduct. Denton Cohen is not qualified to produce the film, and Duncan never would have agreed to grant her the rights. All else seemingly has failed, and Duncan now seeks herein by way of a lawsuit to finally put a stop to Denton Cohen's infringement of the right to prepare derivative works of his book 'The River Why.'"



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