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When M&M’s Attack, And Other Unlikely Lawsuits

August 8, 2013

I do a monthly cartoon illustration for Inside Counsel Magazine. It’s for a humor feature about strange lawsuits.

They send me short descriptions of four cases. I rough out a sketch for each, they pick the one they like best. Here are the winners and also-rans for the past two months:BlankVertSpace.8pixels

A 25-pound M&M candy dispenser toppled over and struck a woman in the head at the Toys R Us flagship store in New York City. The woman claimed she suffered head and neck injuries.

She and her husband sued Mars, Inc., maker of M&Ms (settled, undisclosed sum), Toys
R Us (jury ruled store employees were not negligent), and Trade Fixtures, maker of the dispenser.

A jury cleared Trade Fixtures of any negligence after its lawyer showed jury members a photo of the woman on vacation in Puerto Rico shortly after the accident, sitting at a bar “all gussied up.”

I imagined history repeating itself at the trial.

cartoon illustration about lawsuit filed by woman who was struck on head by falling canister of M&M candy in Toys R Us store in New York City

A prison inmate sued Taco Bell for stealing his idea for their Doritos Locos Tacos, which feature taco shells made out of Doritos chips.

He claims the idea was one of several new product ideas he sent to his lawyer in a letter, and that the United States Postal Service helped intercept the letter and divert it to Taco Bell.

I decided to have the Taco Bell chihuahua cross-examine the plaintiff.

cartoon illustration for lawsuit involving prison inmate who sued Taco Bell for allegedly stealing his idea for taco shells made out of Doritos chips, Taco Bell mascot dog biting prisoner's leg, everyone eating tacos

A New York City man wants to file a class action lawsuit against Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and several other Times Square restaurants.

He claims the restaurants are secretly adding an automatic 18% gratuity onto all bills (city law allows an automatic 15% gratuity for parties of eight or more). Customers then leave an additional tip, not realizing the bill already includes a gratuity.

cartoon illustration about lawsuit filed because Times Square restaurants padding bill with extra gratuity so customers paying as much as 18% tip, lawyer as waiter with hand outstretched for tip from witness

A woman sued after a child welfare agency took away her newborn baby, saying the woman had failed a hospital drug test.

She claimed she’d eaten a poppy seed bagel shortly before arriving at the hospital, which caused her to falsely test positive for opiates. She said she’d never been informed that she’d failed a drug test, nor been asked if she’d eaten anything which might have affected the results.

She got her baby back, no evidence of illegal drug use was ever found, the court awarded her $143,500.

cartoon illustration about lawsuit filed after hospital took woman's newborn baby away because she failed drug test because she'd eaten poppy seed bagel which caused a false positive on drug test, jury spitting poppy seeds in beaker of urine

Singer Katy Perry claimed a British hair care company owed her $2 million based on a verbal agreement to extend her endorsement contract. The company denied there was any such agreement.

Supposedly, the two sides have agreed to drop the case. It remains unclear whether there was any monetary settlement. cartoon illustration about lawsuit filed by singer Katy Perry who sued British hair care company for supposedly reneging on oral agreement to extend her endorsement contract, lawyer, judge, jury all wearing elaborate wigs

A woman is suing Lancôme cosmetics company for false advertising. She claims their Teint Idole Ultra 24H foundation does not, in fact, last for 24 hours, and that it
left her face “cakey” and shiny, “particularly around the nose.”

I envisioned a face that was really shiny.

cartoon illustration lawsuit where woman sued cosmetics company for false advertising because foundation makeup left her face bright and shiny

A gospel singer is suing McDonald’s. She claims she bit into a piece of glass while eating a chicken sandwich, and that it ruined her voice.

She says she can no longer sing soprano, and that when she makes phone calls, she has to “tell people that I’m not a man.”

cartoon illustration soprano gospel singer sued McDonald's piece of glass in chicken sandwich allegedly caused throat damage, claims her voice is now much lower

A Manhattan negligence lawyer has filed suit over… a suit. The man is suing Brooks Brothers.

He bought a suit, left it for alterations, then finally brought it home. But he didn’t open
the garment bag right away. When he did, he discovered the store had given him a used jacket and mismatched pants that were two sizes too big. He claims the store then refused to correct the mistake.

I decided to put my cartoon lawyer in a ratty suit, and have him giving a thumbs-up to
a witness in an equally ratty suit.

cartoon illustration man sued Brooks Brothers for giving him wrong suit and not allowing him to return wrong item, lawyer wearing lousy suit giving thumbs-up to witness who is also wearing bad suit

Finally, here are the rough sketches for the M&M’s and the Taco Bell suits:rough sketch showing woman in courtroom being hit in head by falling tube of M&M candies while judge, jury, lawyer all eat M&Ms

rough sketch for lawsuit involving prison inmate who sued Taco Bell for allegedly stealing his idea for taco shells made out of Doritos chips, Taco Bell mascot dog biting prisoner's leg, everyone eating tacos

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Did this post make you hungry? (There were quite a few references to food!)

Do you ever worry about being sued? Do you offer a product or service that makes you liable?

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Other Lawsuit Posts You Might Enjoy:BlankVertSpace.8pixels

Hulk Hogan Is Ripped– Sues Cocoa Pebbles!!

You’re Never Too Young To Get Sued

You Sure Are A Lot Uglier In Person

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2013 1:26 PM

    Great job capturing the essences of the cases.

    Mostly, they made me not want to go to court…


    • August 9, 2013 10:32 AM

      That sounds like a very healthy reaction to me! Yes, I’m afraid these cases aren’t exactly the best publicity for The Great American Justice System, such as it is…

      Delighted to see you, El G., and thanks so much for your support! : )


  2. Mia Moravis permalink
    August 8, 2013 1:39 PM

    (Wondering if that poppy seed suit was what spurred the Seinfeld episode wherein Elaine gets in trouble for drug use at her job, due to her AM intake of poppy seed muffins!) LOVE this all, Mark!


    • August 9, 2013 10:39 AM

      I think Seinfeld was ahead of the curve, since this was a very recent case. I was dimly aware that one must avoid certain foods prior to, say, a blood test, but I’d never heard of a case involving poppy seeds. Apparently they can do more than just get stuck in one’s teeth… : P

      Great to see you, Mia, thanks so much for your comment! : )


  3. August 8, 2013 5:17 PM

    These are all so brilliant, I can’t pick a favorite. I love the movement and expressions of your characters. That poor soprano went from Brünnhilde to Siegfried! Couldn’t stop laughing at the bagel mom and the lancome glittering woman. Excellent, excellent, my friend!


    • August 9, 2013 10:49 AM

      Blush, blush! I’m blushing so much here, now my face is getting shiny!! : P

      Your comment about Brünnhilde and Siegfried really made me laugh– you clearly know your mythology and opera!!

      You’re always a delight, my dear Marina– thank you for singing out with that comment!! : )


  4. August 8, 2013 5:51 PM

    An arresting development … M&Ms combined with Taco Bell? Now, I’d take a bite out of crime in that case. I love both of the top pics. But your excellent drawings make it really a challenge to narrow down which one I love best.

    Mark, with all the crazy lawsuits out there, you’ll never run out of material.


    • August 9, 2013 10:53 AM

      Thank you, Madam Punster– a bite out of crime indeed! I suppose someone will now steal your (very excellent) idea for M&M tacos, and there will be more lawsuits… : P

      Yes, there never seems to be any shortage of material here– which is both reassuring and rather disturbing!!

      Glad you enjoyed all the sketches, my dear Judy, and thanks so much for your lovely comment! : )


  5. August 8, 2013 7:54 PM

    The poppy seed bagel lawsuit seems legit– the others– not so much. The McDonald’s chicken sandwich one, I’m going to bet it was bone that made it through the processor, not glass. That lawsuit might be legit too, but “I have to tell others I’m not a man” and “I can’t sing soprano anymore”… I dunno, I’m having a hard time not smirking in disbelief.


    • August 13, 2013 8:44 AM

      Smirking in disbelief… sounds familiar. I’m afraid there’s something about lawsuits that’s conducive to smirking, which, of course, is not good for the soul. Fortunately, you and I are pure enough to handle it… : )

      The poppy seed case was the one that stood out for me. I, too, thought it sounded legitimate. One of those bureaucracy-gone-wrong situations, even if someone’s intentions were good. The most striking thing was the complete lack of communication. You have to wonder how many angry misunderstandings might be avoided if people only talked to each other. Sadly, I speak from experience.

      As always, many thanks for your interest and kind comment, Jak! : )


  6. August 8, 2013 10:03 PM

    LUV all of your funny sketches, Mark — wonderfully crazy 😀


    • August 13, 2013 8:46 AM

      Thanks so much, Vanessa! Wonderfully crazy sketches require a wonderfully crazy artist. I have a big advantage there… : P

      As always, I really appreciate your kind support! : )


  7. August 9, 2013 11:52 PM

    Who knew one could sue for such strange happenings? This post really had me giggling Mark and your illustrations captured the absurdity so cleverly! I seem to have had a boring life, nothing to sue for except once, when I was at college, I got a feather in my chicken sandwich. I took it back to the cafe and the owner was so horrified he gave me enough free sandwiches to feed my whole class!


    • August 13, 2013 8:57 AM

      A feather in your chicken sandwich?? Wow… I’ve heard of sandwiches being fresh, but that’s ridiculous… : P

      Ha! Great story, Jen. I can’t help but thinking there’s an important lesson there: the cafe owner expressed profound regret, and went all out to put things right. What could have been an ugly situation was transformed into a very positive one. Funny how “good business practice” often boils down to simple kindness and courtesy.

      Of course, that guy was lucky to be dealing with a person as sweet as yourself!!

      Thanks for sharing that great story, and for all your support! : )


  8. August 11, 2013 4:28 PM

    Well, I think some of those food references, would make me eat more…carefully. 🙂

    I’m amazed by that baby takeaway due to mistaken drug test results. How strange…


    • August 13, 2013 9:10 AM

      Ha! You made me laugh with that one, Jean. Carefully, is right! The next time I go to a restaurant, I’m bringing a food strainer and an electron microscope… : )

      Yes, I’ve tried to imagine what it must have been like to have someone take your baby away because you failed a drug test you didn’t even know about… “outrage” doesn’t begin to cover it. The worst part is, it confirms our lurking paranoia that any of us could be the victim of some horrible bureaucratic error at any time– not a pleasant feeling.

      Well, on that happy note– thanks for your comment!! : )


  9. August 12, 2013 8:41 PM

    Muito legal…

    (Very cool…)


    • August 13, 2013 9:14 AM

      Sinceramente apreciado, meu amigo – obrigado e bem-vindos! : )

      (Sincerely appreciated, my friend– thank you and welcome!)


  10. August 13, 2013 9:07 AM

    M&Ms Tacos, McDs…could Mrs O’B be poisoning the bad food in America to get us to eat healthier?
    As for the baby, that’s horrifying, but there’s a kid who (if parents can do the right thing) will not have a lot of student loans.


    • August 13, 2013 2:17 PM

      Ha! You had me scratchin’ my head for a minute there, Alison– now I’ve got a splinter in my finger… : (

      I’d never heard of Robyn O’Brien. Obviously she’s not the only anti-processed foods crusader out there these days, but she does sound particularly vehement. Remind me never to offer her half of my double chocolate fudge donut. Oh wait, never mind, I don’t share those with anybody… : )

      A kid who won’t have a lot of student loans–! (insert head-slap here) OK, that gets the prize for equal parts cynicism and good sense!! Actually, by the time that baby is a freshman, $143,500 will probably just cover first-year tuition. At a community college… : (

      Great to see you, thanks for that very pithy comment!!


      • August 13, 2013 2:48 PM

        Veiled attempt at Obama.
        BTW you’re probably right about community college, and isn’t that the pity.
        Glad to be visiting your blog again, I
        am always looking for a chuckle.


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