Odds & Ends

Devin D. O'Leary
5 min read
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Dateline: Russia– A Russian woman who drank more than 1,300 gallons of Coca Cola has successfully sued the soft drink giant for making her ill. Natalya Kashuba, 27, the owner of a fancy clothing boutique, consumed up to 3 quarts of the soda every day for five years. She took legal action against the soft drink company after claiming she suffered insomnia and heartburn. Miss Kashuba said she became addicted to the drink as a result of a promotional offer that allowed consumers to swap Coca Cola caps for prizes. Dozens of inflatable mattresses and radios she won were used as key evidence in the case. The plaintiff’s lawyer said that as a result of an examination by a gastroenterologist in October 2005, his client was diagnosed with a chronic condition “whose main symptom was heartburn.” Two Russian courts agreed that Coca Cola had failed to warn of the potential health risks of drinking too much Coke and awarded Ms. Kashuba just under $100. Kashuba is seeking a further $100,000 from Coca Cola in “moral damages.”

Dateline: Massachusetts– Is a burrito a sandwich? Common sense would say no, and now a judge in Massachusetts has confirmed it. Worchester County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Locke relied on testimony from Cambridge chef Chris Schlesinger, a former high-ranking USDA official and the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary in rendering his decision last week. According to the Boston Globe , the burrito brouhaha began when Panera Bread, one of the country’s biggest bakery cafes, argued owners of the White City Shopping Center in Shrewsbury violated a 2001 lease agreement that restricted the mall from renting to another sandwich shop. Earlier this year, the mall signed a lease with Qdoba Mexican Grille and Panera sued, claiming the chain’s burritos violated the “no sandwich” clause. “I know of no chef or culinary historian who would call a burrito a sandwich,” Schlesinger said in his affidavit. In his ruling, Locke cited Webster’s definition of a sandwich, explaining that two slices of bread were a necessary characteristic thereof. “A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos or quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla,” clarified the judge.

Dateline: Wisconsin– In the age-old battle between wild buck and ceramic lawn ornament, it would seem that nature has the upper hand. Ruth Hesselink of Holland, Wis., called her local sheriff’s office last Sunday night to report that the deer replica in her yard was being attacked by the real deal. A deputy who went to the scene found “obvious track marks” that supported Hesselink’s account, Capt. Dave Adams of the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department reported. Among the damage, the head of the ceramic deer was knocked off. The unidentified assailant was believed to be a male deer, overly excited by fall rutting season. According to wildlife officials, the desire to mate makes bucks more aggressive and more likely to attack one another while pursuing does.

Dateline: Wisconsin– Not only did William Harold Fenrick fail to win the recent election for sheriff of Grant County after legally changing his name to Andy Griffith, but he’s now being sued by the real Andy Griffith. The actor, who portrayed a small-town sheriff in the long-running sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show,” filed a lawsuit saying the former Mr. Fenrick changed his name for the “sole purpose of taking advantage of Griffith’s notoriety in an attempt to gain votes.” Mr. Griffith’s lawsuit asks that Mr. Griffith publish disclaimers and an apology in Grant County newspapers that say he has no association with the actor. The second Mr. Griffith, a record store owner, spent $5,000 on his failed campaign for office. Incumbent Sheriff Keith Govier, a Republican, retained his position with 8,452 votes. Griffith, an independent, came away with 1,248 votes. Griffith has three weeks to respond to Griffith’s filing.

Dateline: Arkansas– In other electoral news, candidate Randy Wooten is considering lodging a formal protest over his town’s recent mayoral election after receiving exactly zero bids. According to official results, not one person in the town of Waldenburg, population 80, voted for Wooten. Wooten, however, is convinced he got at least one vote: his own. Poinsett County results reported last Wednesday showed incumbent William H. Wood with 18 votes, challenger Ronnie Chatman with 18 and Wooten with zip. “I had at least eight or nine people who said they voted for me, so something is wrong with this picture,” said Wooten. Poinsett County Election Commissioner Junaway Payne said the issue has been discussed, and a court order would be necessary in order to open the electronic voting machine and check the paper ballots.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

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