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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Singer Sued for $10M, Accused of being “Ugly and Untalented,” Rejects Settlement Offer and Gag Order, Vows to Fight for Meaningful Legal Reform

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For Immediate Release
September 16, 2015
Contact: Phoebe Stonbely
pstonbely@lrany.org
518.512.5265

Singer Sued for $10M, Accused of being “Ugly and Untalented,” Rejects Settlement Offer and Gag Order, Vows to Fight for Meaningful Legal Reform

(ALBANY, NY) – Collette McLafferty’s life was turned upside down in 2014 when the singer and songwriter was served with a $10 million lawsuit which accused her of being “ugly and untalented” by a person whom she had never met, stemming from a job she accepted in a P!NK tribute band. McLafferty says the one hundred and twelve page lawsuit, and the corresponding international press coverage, left her “numb” and “traumatized.”

Facing untold legal fees to defend herself against absurd claims, Collette turned to the internet. While internet commenters are notoriously cruel, Collette’s story evinced great sympathy from internet users the around the world. Bloggers and writers came to her defense, and turned their sights on the plaintiff who filed the $10 million case, Charles Bonfante.

Now the tables have turned. Under international criticism, Bonfante, a personal injury lawyer who is representing himself, recently offered to drop his lawsuit and actually pay Collette “half her legal fees.” But McLafferty refuses to give in, “Nobody should ever have to go through what I’ve been through. This situation has humiliated me publicly, damaged my reputation, my career, my livelihood. This is harassment, legalized extortion plain and simple,” she said.

McLafferty has teamed up with the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, a nonprofit, nonpartisan legal reform advocacy organization to draft “Collette’s Law.” The draft legislation takes aim at frivolous lawsuits by requiring those who file meritless actions to pay the other party’s legal costs, as well as increasing sanctions for plaintiffs who file frivolous lawsuits.

Tom Stebbins, Executive Director for the Alliance, stressed the need for systemic changes, “Sadly, Collette’s case is far from an isolated incident. You are more likely to get sued in New York than just about anywhere else in the world, thanks to our plaintiff-friendly laws, ineffective attorney discipline systems, and powerful trial lawyer special interest lobby.”

McLafferty is urging state lawmakers to introduce Collette’s Law and pass meaningful lawsuit reform. “My case shows just how broken our legal system really is. We need real, fundamental, reform to put an end to lawsuit abuse.”

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Watch Collette tell her story at http://youtu.be/Gf4fsrK3X8o

For more information, please contact Phoebe Stonbely at 518-512-5265 or pstonbely@LRANY.org.

The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

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Most Outrageous Lawsuit of the Month July 2015: Beggin’ Strips Isn’t Bacon?

This month Phoebe Stonbely discusses a lawsuit that will have you begging for common sense.

Though it’s advertised that “beggin strips,” the bacon-like dog treats that claim to make your dog go crazy, are made with real bacon, it’s pretty obvious that there are other ingredients in the doggie snacks. But apparently this was not evident for a Dutchess County man who has filed a $5 million class action lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against the makers of the treats claiming the packaging and advertising is misleading.

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Most Outrageous Lawsuit of the Month, June 2015: Woman Sues eBay to Sell Plots of Land on the Sun

This month’s Phoebe Stonbely will discuss a lawsuit that is out of this world ridiculous!

A few years back, a Spanish woman named Maria Angeles Duran claimed ownership rights to the sun. She began to sell plots of land on the sun – on eBay, for one euro per square meter.

Once eBay caught onto, they kicked her off the site and called her product a scam. Claiming she violated their intangible goods policy.

She is now suing eBay for 10,000 euros in lost compensation.

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tipping scaffold

Physics? Who Needs That!

By: Scott Hobson

As if we needed another reminder of the utter absurdity – and often downright insanity – of the Scaffold Law…

Yesterday, the First Department Appellate Division issued a decision in Strojek v. 33 East 70th Street Corp., that will leave anyone with even a shred of common sense shaking their head in disbelief.

In Strojek, the plaintiff, and asbestos remediation worker, fell and was injured when his portable scaffold tipped over. His lawyers moved for summary judgement, meaning that there was no need for a liability trial because there were no conceivable set of conditions under which the defendants could avoid liability. Remember, it’s the Scaffold Law – injury: check; gravity: check; liability: slam dunk. The trial court agreed, and the defendants appealed. The Appellate court upheld the ruling.

Let’s take a closer look at the plaintiff’s claims. He claimed that the fall knocked him unconscious, and he came to on the floor with the scaffold next to him – no memory of how the fall happened. That’s awfully convenient but, in fairness, plausible. Also, there was nobody else to witness the fall; suspiciously convenient. No problem here said the court – “That plaintiff could not remember how he fell does not bar summary judgment. Nor does the fact that he was the only witness raise an issue as to his credibility…”

So we are left to speculate as to how this accident could have possibly occurred. The plaintiff didn’t claim that the scaffolding was defective. But we do know a thing or two about physics – namely, that an object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. But what force could have possibly acted on the scaffold? Perhaps the worker was attempting to move the scaffold by pushing against the wall or ceiling – certainly this method would have spared him the effort of climbing down the scaffold, moving it, securing it safely, then climbing back up to continue working (impossible! Workers never take shortcuts!).

The defense argued just that. There IS a triable issue of fact, they claimed – the most logical answer is that the plaintiff caused the accident himself, and basic physics backs that up. The court, however, wouldn’t have it. “The [defendant’s] expert’s conclusion that the scaffold tipped over because plaintiff was trying to move it while remaining on it and by using the wall or ceiling as leverage, is speculative and unsupported by the evidence” (emphasis added).

Yes, that’s right. Newton’s first law of motion, perhaps the most fundamental and well established principle in physics, isn’t good enough for the First Department.

And because of that, the defendants will be held 100% liable. It truly boggles the mind.

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Most Outrageous Lawsuit of the Month, April 2015 – “Trauma Queens” Sue For $20M Each

This month’s lawsuit features two NYC 20-somethings looking to capitalize off of a tragic event and a lawyer who was happy for the opportunity to take advantage of the legal system.

After the tragic East Village gas explosion earlier this month, Lucie Bauermeister and Anna Ramotowska though unharmed from the blast felt they were owed compensation for the emotional trauma caused from the event- so they filed a lawsuit for $20million EACH. That’s $40 million dollars these two women, deemed “trauma queens” by the NY Post, are seeking for virtually zero physical injuries.

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Most Outrageous Lawsuit of the Month, March 2015 – Restaurant Sued for Sizzling Hot Fajitas

This month, Phoebe Stonbely will discuss an outrageous lawsuit from New Jersey. Hiram Jimenez, a New Jersey man, was visiting an Applebee’s in 2010 and ordered steak fajitas which, as advertised, were delivered to him on a sizzling hot skillet. Before enjoying their meal, the plaintiff and his brother bowed their heads to pray. Jimenez bowed his head directly over his sizzling hot plate resulting in burns from splattering grease – the shock lead to him knocking his plate into his lap causing further injuries.

So what did Jimenez do? He filed a lawsuit against Applebee’s claiming that the hot skillet was “a dangerous and hazardous condition” and alleged that he sustained serious and permanent personal injuries.

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Most Outrageous Lawsuit of the Month, February 2015 – Woman Sued Over Barking Dog

This month, Phoebe Stonbely discusses an outrageous lawsuit which shows that sometimes, a dog’s bark can be worse than it’s bite.

Denise Norton of Seattle is now risking losing her house after her neighbor sued her for emotional damages over her barking dog. He was awarded a default judgment for the lawsuit because she didn’t show up to court – to the tune of five hundred thousand dollars! Why didn’t she show up? Because when she got the lawsuit in the mail, she thought the whole thing was just so ridiculous it had to be bogus.

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The Most Outrageous Lawsuit of the Month Jan. ’15: Woman Sues When Tights Don’t Cause Orgasm

Welcome to the first 2015 edition of the most outrageous lawsuit of the month.

This month’s lawsuit is not guaranteed to hit the spot.

This week, Phoebe Stonbely will discuss a lawsuit about, Mung Wang – a woman from Queens has brought a federal class action case against the tights manufacture KushyFoot – for $5 Million. Why you ask, because the tights did not give her an orgasm.

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Statement from Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York Executive Director Tom Stebbins on Mayor de Blasio’s Recognition of Frivolous Lawsuits’ Impact on NYC

January 30, 2015

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Statement from Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York Executive Director Tom Stebbins on Mayor de Blasio’s Recognition of Frivolous Lawsuits’ Impact on NYC

“We applaud Mayor de Blasio’s recognition that frivolous lawsuits are major drain on the city coffers. As comptroller Stringer recently reported, New York City spends more on lawsuits than on parks, libraries and aging combined, to say nothing of frivolous lawsuits’ impact to the private sector.

We can fix this. We need to reform the rule of “joint and several” liability (where a party 1% at fault can be held 100% liable) to a more equitable “fair share” system, where liability is proportional to fault.

We also call on the mayor to support reform of the archaic and ineffective “Scaffold Law,” which holds contractors and property owners (including the City) fully liable in lawsuits for gravity-related construction injuries regardless of any contributing fault of a worker. Disaster relief organizations like Habitat for Humanity have identified the Scaffold Law as a major impediment to rebuilding efforts in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Affordable housing advocates have also called for reform of the Scaffold Law. The School Construction Authority has noted that they paid an additional $215m in insurance costs due to the Scaffold Law in 2014 alone, enough to build several new schools. Meanwhile, our kids go to school in trailers.

We need stop spending taxpayer dollars on frivolous lawsuits, and start spending them on the things that really matter to New Yorkers.”

-Tom Stebbins, Executive Director, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York

Contact: Phoebe Stonbely | PStonbely@lrany.org | 518.512.5265

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The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

See Full PDF Statement

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The Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of 2014 – Vote Today!