Pay to Pray? Not on your life! Love this. King Arthur Pendragon—the legendary King of England and Excalibur Knight—has come back to defend rights of people to pray without having to worry about their parking. It’s the little things, right?
It seems the English court has granted Pendragon the right to sue Britain’s national historical society over a £15 parking fee.
Just so we’re all clear, Pendragon was born in the century that only recently passed as John Timothy Rothwell but later changed his name to Excalibur. According to Wikipedia, in 1991, he was named Pendragon and Swordbearer to the Glastonbury Order of Druids. It turns out that the self-proclaimed reincarnation of King Arthur is a bit of a crusader (sorry, couldn’t resist) and no stranger to the English courts.
Back to the case. Parking for the riff raff at Stonehenge usually costs £5. However, Pendragon was charged (but didn’t pay) £15 during the 2016 summer solstice prayer ceremony that he was attending, which is part of the Druid religion. Apparently, English Heritage increased the parking fee in an effort to encourage more people to car share or travel by bus. I can’t quite imagine a bus full of Druids. Motorbikes yes, Bluebird buses, not so much.
English Heritage’s (EH) side of the story, according to a statement they issued earlier, is: “In recent years there has been a huge growth in people and cars coming to the World Heritage Site to celebrate the Summer Solstice. In 2000, approximately 10,000 people attended the Solstice celebrations, while in 2014, the figure was close to 40,000.” That’s a lot of people, Pagan or otherwise.
Pendragon doesn’t agree with the parking fee, stating that he wanted to prove EH was wrong to turn him away when he refused to “pay to pray”, the BBC reports. And he wasn’t the only one who refused to pay. Pendragon has a lot of support in this case: he was joined by other Druid, Heathen and Wiccan supporters to protest outside the court. Reportedly, something like 12,500 people take part in this annual ceremony and a lot of them feel that the parking fee was “exclusionary”. Pendragon claims that the fine “unfairly targets his religion,” and breached his human rights. For those of you not in the loop on Druid religious holidays, there are four annual dawn ceremonies at Stonehenge—those parking fees could add up. So off to court they go—Salisbury small claims court that is.
In an interview with the BBC, a spokeswoman with the English Heritage said they are looking forward to presenting their full case at a later date. Adding that “The Summer Solstice parking charge is not a ‘pay to pray’ but a ‘pay to park’ charge.”
The court will set a full day of hearings which Pendragon has requested not interfere with the spring or summer solstice. Maybe they should be praying for free parking, as they’re obviously not taking the bus. Then again, what about horseback?
What’s that expression—don’t shoot the messenger? What about exceptional circumstances? Ok—maybe hire a lawyer instead—but you know where we’re going with this. Just for a moment, imagine getting a phone call from a funeral home you have hired for transportation purposes only, that goes something like “So sorry, your mother’s remains were accidentally cremated, and actually, we can’t find them now.”
Yup. It really happened. A funeral home in Manhattan mistakenly cremated the remains of Consuelo Rivera, a New Jersey resident, and then lost the ashes, according to her family, who yes, filed a lawsuit. Surprised? But it gets worse—you must have known that it would.
The bungling is on par with a Marx Brothers’ film, but this script ain’t funny.
The short version, according to Michael Lamonsoff, the family’s lawyer, goes like this: Mrs. Rivera passed away on March 22 and her body was taken to Biondi Funeral Home in Nutley, NJ. In preparation for burial. So far so good. However, the two sons were not impressed with the service they were receiving and requested that their mother’s body (key point here) be taken to a funeral home in Brooklyn, the RG Ortiz Funeral Home, for preparation. A relatively straight forward request, one would think.
Not so much. The Rivera brothers hired another funeral service company (so we’re now at three), First Avenue Funeral Services of Manhattan, to transport their deceased mother from Biondi (the first funeral home) to RG Ortiz (the second funeral home).
Apparently, there was a delay in transportation—who knows what that means—and the third company—First Avenue—ended up keeping Mrs. Rivera. Still with me?
Then came the phone call, March 27, from a staff person at First Avenue, telling Mrs. Rivera’s relatives that they had accidentally cremated Mrs. Rivera. And, according to the lawsuit, her family was also told that First Avenue could not find the urn containing her ashes. Nice one boys.
Not sure how one would react to that news. But now the hunt was on.
Rivera’s sons, absolutely desperate to find their mother, began searching. However, when they thought they had found her at the Rosemont Crematorium in Elizabeth, NJ, the director of the crematorium, in fact, gave them an urn containing someone else. The wrong urn. OMG. How the heck are you going to know who’s in the urn? Not to be dark here but one set of ashes have to look pretty much like the next.
To continue, following that rather major set-back, the boys began the search anew. But the pattern of mistakes continued. Once again, the Rivera’s thought they had found their mother’s remains at First Manhattan (the third funeral home) but that information also proved incorrect.
According to their attorney, Lamonsoff, the sons were given the wrong urn. Again. Seriously. More than a week later, Rivera’s remains were still missing, the attorney told the New York Post recently.
“To date the remains of Consuelo Rivera continue to be missing and a heartbroken and bewildered family is unable to say their final goodbyes,” Lamonsoff said in a statement.
Rivera’s sons, Emilio and Juan Irizarry, who by this point must be quite traumatized by these events, are quite understandably suing all three funeral firms for damages, citing extreme negligence. I would think, however, that bungling on this level puts a whole new spin on “extreme negligence,” not to mention, “rest in peace.”
© 3drenderings | Dreamstime.com – Marble urn for ashes
Bananas flambé—so flambé in fact they’re the subject of a lawsuit. Well, it’s not just the bananas…
Business owners in Seekonk, PA, whose business was burnt to the ground by an allegedly overloaded and subsequently out of control truck full of Chiquita bananas that overturned, ruptured a gas line and sparked a fire that destroyed the Old Grist Mill Tavern—are suing. No surprise there. What is surprising, however, is Chiquita’s response to the lawsuit—but we’ll get to that in a minute.
According to the owners’ attorney, David Salvatore, Chiquita banana trucks have been involved in wrecks all over the country. Is it some kind of plot? No, not according to Salvatore, who cites improper loading of the produce trucks. He wants Chiquita and four other defendants to be held responsible.
“It is not accidental that banana truck accidents are a thing of legend and song,” Salvatore said, in an article by the Sun Chronicle. He was referencing Harry Chapin’s 1974 song called “30,000 Pounds of Bananas” which recants the story of an out-of-control banana truck that crashed in Scranton, PA, killing the driver. No comment.
Backing up his lyrical reference, Salvatore claims a recent crash in Freetown bears a striking resemblance to the rollover in Seekonk, which took place on June 24, 2012. He claims trucks carrying containers piled high with bananas can overturn, especially on long curves where trailers heavily loaded with fruit—they tend to tip. Any child playing with toy trucks (if children still do that), would know—you put too much in, over it goes.
The owners of the Grist Mill, Greg and Suzanne Esmay, are suing Chiquita Fresh North America and Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, along with the owner and driver of the truck and a freight company. Seems a reasonable approach to compensation for an event they really couldn’t have caused.
Oh no, not so, claims Chiquita Fresh North America. Not only have they denied any negligence and/or responsibility associated with the destruction of the Grist Mill and likely the largest bananas flambé event in that part of the world has ever seen, according to court papers, its attorneys sought to lay the blame for the fire on the Esmays.
“The sole proximate cause of the plaintiffs’ injuries and damages, if any, was their own negligence, either standing alone or combined with the negligence of others over whom Chiquita exercised no control and for whose conduct it bears no responsibility,” the company wrote in court filings. According to the Sun Chronicle, Chiquita’s statement did not elaborate on its claims. It’s mystifying logic indeed. Needless to say, mediation went sideways. (Just like the bananas.)
Greg Esmay said he’s baffled by Chiquita’s allegations. “I don’t know what we possibly could have done wrong,” he said. Quite. One minute you’re serving burgers to your patrons and the next it’s the big bang.
As for Columbia Gas, they’re keeping quiet about the whole mess, stating: “We value our business relationship with The Old Grist Mill, and are involved in a continuing effort to effect a successful resolution of the pending matter,” Columbia spokeswoman Sheila Doiron said.
I’m betting bananas are not on the menu at The (new) Old Grist Tavern.
Well here’s one for the books. A poetic response (literally) to a rather frivolous lawsuit. A judge in Franklin County, Ohio handed down his judgment by writing a 5 stanza poem. Suffice to say, the suit didn’t get the green light.
What was it all about? Darek Lathan, a 47-year old inmate at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient (Ohio) attempted to sue the state after a guard at the center refused to let him use an open restroom during recreation time. Lathan said he soiled himself and was ridiculed as a result. Not pretty. Not very nice, either. But—worthy of a $2 million lawsuit?
Apparently not. At least not according to Franklin County Judge David Cain, who concluded Lathan didn’t have a case. “You know, if he is going to file something that frivolous, he can’t expect me to be too judicious in how I respond,” Judge Cain told The Columbus Dispatch. “He can’t expect me to take it seriously.”
Judge Cain, who had a former career as a journalist, summed it up quite nicely when he penned:
“Claiming loss and shame to boot
the plaintiff filed the present suit,
but the law provideth no relief
from such unmitigated grief.”
“We have to have some fun every once in a while in this job,” Cain told the Dispatch.
Apparently the judge dashed off the entire 5 stanzas in an hour. Well done. As for the plaintiff? He is now incarcerated “elsewhere”. He didn’t have a lawyer apparently, and made no comment.
Lathan filed his lawsuit in October last year, claiming that while he warned the officer he was struggling with a cold and diarrhea from taking cold showers in the prison, he was refused permission to get out of line. He suffered “harassment, embarrassment, ridiculing (sic) and emotional distress” when other inmates began laughing at him after the bathroom accident, he wrote.
Here’s the poem:
“Cold showers caused his bowels to malfunction
Or so the plaintiff claims
A strict uncaring prison guard
Is whom the plaintiff blames.
While in line for recreation
And little time for hesitation
His anal sphincter just exploded
The plaintiff’s britches quickly loaded.
It made the inmates laugh and play
To see the plaintiff’s pants this way
The foul, unsightly, putrid mess
Caused the plaintiff major stress.
Claiming loss and shame to boot
The plaintiff filed the present suit
But the law provideth no relief
From such unmitigated grief.
Neither runs nor constipation
Can justify this litigation
Whether bowels constrict or flex
De minimus non curat lex.”
Whoa! That’s throwing some serious shade when you start slinging the Latin around!
That last line there translated from Latin means: “the law does not concern itself with trifles.” Clearly not.
In the article from the Columbus Dispatch, Cain, a judge for nearly 30 years, is quoted as follows:
“I read the complaint and quickly concluded that it was totally frivolous,” Cain said after the ruling was posted on the court Website.
“You know, if he is going to file something that frivolous, he can’t expect me to be too judicious in how I respond. He can’t expect me to take it seriously.” This is the first time he’s issued a judgment in rhyme—wonder if it will be the last? Apparently, he only has three years left before an age restriction prevents him from seeking re-election. “If there’s anything I want to do, I better get about doing it. I just wanted to have some fun.”
Apparently Cain received his journalism degree from Ohio University in 1965 and went on to work at the Dispatch as a reporter for a decade before getting his law degree. In the 1970s, he was among those who wrote song parodies poking fun at local personalities for the Press Club’s Gridiron Shows.
Well, alrighty then. Can’t wait to see what’s next!
Ok—finally!! After all these years, confirmation!! Every time I had to put together a piece of Ikea furniture I would stall for days—weeks sometimes. After all, I’d survived for a year without that particular piece of furniture—what’s a few more days, right? In fact, the products could lay for months in their boxes, untouched, while I gathered the nerve, the tools and the beer necessary to put a table, desk or wardrobe piece together. Now there’s a guy in New York who’s suing his employer for forcing him to single-handedly put together a 225-pound piece of Ikea furniture by himself. Thank you! (doing a happy dance)—It’s not just me.
Fifty-two year old Carlos Figueroa, a chauffeur to Sweden’s UN Ambassador, alleges in his lawsuit that he endured Scandinavian-style torture when his boss forced him to single-handedly build a massive IKEA wardrobe. He claims that “handyman” was not part of his job description—likely nor was masochist. So, are you sitting down? He’s suing the Swedish Mission in Manhattan for $1.7 million (that’s a lot of wardrobes). He claims he was injured on the job and cites discrimination from his superiors.
The story goes that Figueroa was sent to Ikea in Elizabeth, NJ, to buy “one or two” “Pax” wardrobes (see Ikea video, above) with “Hasvik” sliding doors by his boss, the late Ambassador Marten Grunditz. What’s your first clue this furniture is going to be too heavy, and it turns out, too big for Figueroa to haul back to Manhattan on his own? And anyone who’s tried to get even a Trofast storage bin unit out of the Elizabeth, NJ Ikea store knows the concept of ‘grab ‘n go’ is royally put to the test. So…Grunditz told him to order the units. Yeah, thanks a lot.
When the furniture arrived at the Mission, complete with instructions that clearly show the furniture should be assembled by two people (why are they smiling?), Figueroa was told to assemble the 8-foot-by-7-foot piece by himself.
No additional manpower was provided, despite Grunditz being aware that Figueroa wasn’t a “workman or carpenter,” his suit states.
It took Figueroa three days apparently, to negotiate the instructions, parts (no doubt including endless packages of screws and the ubiquitous Alan key) but he did it. Except for hanging the sliding doors. He was in the process of hanging them when he fell off the five foot ladder and injured his back. He had to have back surgery to relieve pressure in his spine and fix pinched nerves. Wait—there’s more—he also suffered leg injuries. All this has forced Figueroa, who first started working as a driver and office clerk at the Mission in 2006, to take two medical leaves of absence, from September 2013 through February 2014 and from May 2014 onward.
“I’ll be in pain for the rest of my life. I’m disabled,” Figueroa told The New York Post, when they called him. “It’s been very emotional. I’m still in a lot of pain.” Yes, I should think so.
Despite his injuries, Figueroa continued working as a chauffeur after the accident, which, predictably, exacerbated his injuries, according to the lawsuit. Figueroa alleges he was told to lie to doctors about his continued duties “to avoid an uninsured Workers Compensation claim.” Boy, this just gets better and better. Not.
According to the lawsuit, “The important thing is for you to say that you don’t know how you got it and you don’t mention work,” a senior administrative officer under Grunditz texted Figueroa in December 2012. “So you want me to lie,” Figueroa texted back.
The worker responded: “Lying and withholding all info are two different things. You are an office clerk aren’t you? As it happens you don’t need to lie. As much as we don’t know the entire story behind your injury either,” the lawsuit states. So, how “gray” is grey, exactly?
Figueroa is also suing the Mission for discrimination: he claims his colleagues made disparaging comments about Latinos and questioned him about various missing items at the Mission. Seriously? And, there’s also an allegation of denied overtime despite working up to 18-hour driving shifts, with Figueroa claiming his boss said he was “paid too much.” FYI—Grunditz died January 2014.
According to Figueroa’s lawyer, Stanley Chinitz, who spoke with the Post, “Mr. Figueroa is not going to try his case in the press. He has accurately described the facts and this will be for a jury to resolve. Discussions occurred between the parties before the lawsuit was filed and the claims were unable to be resolved.”
You know, there ought to be a therapy group for survivors of Ikea furniture assembly—I’d join—though admittedly in most situations, the quest to assemble is purely self-inflicted.