Odds & Ends

Odds & Ends

Devin D. O'Leary
5 min read
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Dateline: Guinea— Overwhelmed by criminal behavior, law enforcement officials in the coastal African nation of Guinea are encouraging citizens to burn any suspected criminals alive. Speaking in the capital city of Conakry last Tuesday, the new military government’s anticrime chief, Captain Moussa Tiegboro Camara, told citizens, “I’m asking you to burn all armed bandits who are caught red-handed committing an armed robbery.” Camara went on to say, “The prisons are full and cannot take more people, and the situation cannot continue like that.” Camara, who was appointed by the military junta to oversee the fight against drugs and serious crime, made his comments at a meeting of city officials. “These measures worry us,” Thierno Maadjou Sow, president of the Guinean Organization of Human Rights, told Reuters news service. “The law of the country must not be bypassed, whatever the circumstances.” The National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) seized power in Guinea, the world’s largest exporter of bauxite, last December after long-serving President Lansana Conte died.

Dateline: New Jersey— A man who sued his own mother has been awarded more than $100,000 by a civil jury. In 2006, John P. Garrity was installing hardwood floors for his mother, Nancy. According to court papers, Mr. Garrity was working with a miter saw in the garage when his mother came up behind him and tapped him on the right shoulder. Nancy Garrity, according to court documents, said she was letting her son know lunch was ready. In depositions, John Garrity said when he quickly turned around, his finger slipped into the saw’s path and it severed his pinky. In its verdict, the jury in State Superior Court said each party was 50 percent at fault for the accident, which means Mrs. Garrity is required to pay half of her son’s $37,000 in medical bills and half of the $191,000 punitive award. During depositions, John Garrity, who describes himself as a contractor, said he was unsure whether he depressed a button to turn off the machine. “Obviously the saw was running because it cut my finger off,” he told his mother’s attorney, Ed McHugh. “At some point, my finger came off.”

Dateline: California— On May 21, a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California dismissed a complaint filed by a woman who was shocked to learn after four years of loyal consumption that the Crunch Berries in her Cap’n Crunch with Crunch Berries were not real fruit. The plaintiff, Janine Sugawara, alleged that she only recently discovered to her dismay that the “berries” were in fact brightly colored cereal balls. She brought suit against the cereal-maker’s parent company, PepsiCo, for fraud, breach of warranty and California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act on behalf of herself and all similarly deceived customers. According to Sugawara’s complaint, consumers were being misled by the cereal box, which features the product’s cartoon namesake aggressively “thrusting a spoonful of ‘Crunch Berries’ at the prospective buyer.” The plaintiff claimed this fruity message was reinforced by other marketing representing the product as a “combination of Crunch biscuits and colorful red, purple, teal and green berries.” Yet in actuality, the product contained “no berries of any kind.” (In fact, the product does use strawberry fruit concentrate as a flavoring agent.) In his Crunch Berry-centric decision, Judge Morrison England Jr. noted that, “So far as this Court has been made aware, there is no such fruit growing in the wild or occuring naturally in any part of the world.” As a result, the District Court ruled that no reasonable consumer “could not be deceived into believing the product contained a fruit that did not exist.” The court dismissed the case and would not even allow Sugawara to file an amended complaint, stating that to do so would, “require this court to ignore all concepts of personal responsibility and common sense.”

Dateline: Nevada— The Hong Kong-based Apple Daily reports a Las Vegas casino is being threatened with a lawsuit by a Taiwanese man who claims the business used “feng shui sabotage” to initiate a $2 million losing streak last year. The man, identified only as Yuan, contacted the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino through his attorney after he returned to Taiwan and said he intended to sue if the casino did not come up with a “reasonable solution” to the matter. Yuan claims the Venetian “dug a one-meter square hole” into a wall of his suite and covered it with black cloth. Also, Yuan claims the casino placed two white towels in front of his suite and “turned on two large fans facing his room without notifying him.” After learning of these ominous portents, Yuan says his luck changed and he went from being up $400,000 to losing the $2 million. Apple Daily reported the Venetian had promised to refund the gambler $100,000 in cash and the same amount in chips but did not explain why the casino had agreed to this. Feng shui is an ancient Chinese belief that seeks to channel good and bad psychic energy through the arrangement of furniture and ornaments.

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

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