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Helping the Homeless Could Mean Handcuffs

Two pastors and a 90-year-old man were arrested in Fort Lauderdale for feeding the homeless in public. Arnold Abbott, the 90-year-old, runs a non-profit called "Love Thy Neighbor" (you can find more information about the organization here: http://lovethyneighbor.org). Mr. Abbott and the two pastors had prepared 300 lunches to pass out to the homeless just outside of Stanahan Park. The three were only able to pass out 3 of those lunches before being arrested. 

The reason for their arrest was a new ordinance restricting charitable groups' ability to feed the homeless. Mr. Abbott and the pastors are the first to be charged under the new ordinance. The ordinance specifically restricts groups from being within 500 feet of residences when passing out food, the groups must obtain a permit or get permission from property owners, and must provide a portable restroom. As punishment, Mr. Abbott and the pastors could face a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. 

This ordinance is not the first of its kind in Fort Lauderdale. Previous ordinances have provided one-way bus tickets under the "Homeless Reunification Program," as well as ordinances prohibiting camping and allowing police to seize personal property and store it until they individual can pay a fee.

Mayor John P. Seiler argues that the city ordinances are all done to help the homeless and that the newest ordinance ensures that "all of our public places are accessible and can be safely enjoyed by everyone." I am sure Mr. Abbott, the pastors, and the homeless population of Fort Lauderdale have something to say about that. 

To read more, please visit: http://blogs.findlaw.com/legally_weird/2014/11/2-pastors-90-year-old-man-arrested-for-feeding-homeless-in-public.html

My Spidey Sense is Tingling

A Missouri couple got a rather unpleasant surprise when they purchased an upscale home. The house was infested with 6,000 venomous brown recluse spiders. Susan Trost notice spider webs and their not-so-friendly inhabitants on her first day in the home. The Trosts attempted to resolve the problem with interior and exterior pesticides, but their eight legged tenants refused to find new digs. The Trosts eventually filed a claim with their insurance company and sued the former owners for not disclosing the creepy crawlys. 

Following a jury trial, the Trosts were awarded $472,110 in damages. However, the former owners' insurance company claimed the policy lacked coverage and refused to pay. The former owners then filed for bankruptcy. The Trosts did file a claim against the insurance company for failure to pay their claim and moved from the house allowing it to go into foreclosure. 

Generally, collecting an award of damages comes without the hurdles the Trosts are facing. A financially stable party will normally pay the award rather than force the opposing party to pursue collection. A party may also garnish wages or bank accounts in order to receive their award. But, when the paying party refuses to pay or doesn't have the financial resource to pay, it can be difficult to receive the award. In a case like the Trosts', a bankruptcy claim can cause the judgment to be discharged. 

The legal issues of receiving the judgment present a rather tangled web, but I sure hope the Trosts can find a web and venom free home. 

To read more, please visit: http://blogs.findlaw.com/legally_weird/2014/10/brown-recluse-house-a-web-of-legal-issues.html

Illegal Lemonade Stands?

On a hot summer day, what sounds better than a cool, refreshing glass of lemonade? Many young entrepreneurs get their start with a neighborhood lemonade stand. But, that refreshing glass of lemonade may come with a side of legal issues. 

A man in Florida has made attempts to shut down a neighborhood boy's lemonade stand arguing it is an "illegal business" that reduces the value of his home. The neighborhood man stated in a letter to city authorities that the stand causes "an excessive amounts of traffic, noise, trash, and parking issues." City authorities do not believe they are in the business of regulating kids. The mayor even commended the young man who operates the stand, calling it "a great example."

However, challenges to neighborhood lemonade stands are not unheard of. In Maryland, a group of kids were shut down and charged $500 for having a lemonade stand outside of a PGA tournament. To avoid being shut down, lemonade stands might need the same permits and licenses required by other mobile food businesses. 

So, what's the lesson? I guess when life gives you lemons, make sure your neighbors like lemonade. 

The Blue Devils vs. an American Icon

What does Duke University have in common with John Wayne? They share a common beloved name—“Duke.” John Wayne’s heirs wish to keep the association between the name and Mr. Wayne alive, but the university wishes to abolish that.

Originally the name of his childhood dog, Wayne took on the nickname “Duke” and was referred to by the name throughout his career. Since his passing, diehard fans still associate the name with the famous actor. Wayne’s heirs are now fighting the university to use the name for a new brand of bourbon to be released in Wayne’s memory. The bottle is to feature the nickname and an image of Wayne holding a gun.

Duke University is opposed to the name of the drink because they feel customers may associate the alcohol with the university, potentially hurting the school’s image and reputation.

Both entities hold rights to the name. Thus, Duke University filed a lawsuit against the heirs in federal court in order to show that their claim to the name is superior.

Will the judge be a Blue Devils fanatic and rule in favor of the university? Or will the judge be The Quiet Man with True Grit and decide that the Wayne family may continue to remember the actor by his nickname? We will have to wait and see.

Throwing away $1 million

Two men in New York claim that the Lottery Commission owes them $1 million dollars. Why you may ask? According to their testimony, the lottery website updated late, causing the men to believe that their ticket was not worth any money. The men threw away the ticket only to later discover that the ticket was worth $1 million. 

You may now be asking yourself how these men could prove they actually purchased the ticket. Apparently the men purchased three tickets at the same time: the first and last worth nothing and the middle ticket being the winning ticket. The men have the two losing tickets which they believe show that they would have also possessed the winning ticket. 

The men claim that they called the Lottery Commission to explain the mistake a year ago. At that time, the Commission allegedly said that they would compensate the men. It has been a year, and the men have not seen any money.

I believe there are a couple lessons we can learn from this story:

1. Be sure the website is up-to-date when $1 million is at stake.

2. The lottery can be a heartbreaking game to play.

3. Friends don't let friends throw away winning tickets.

Exploiting Bambi

Imagine you are driving home at night and look to your right. You see a deer near the side of the road up ahead. As you get closer, the deer begins to panic. Before you can brake, the deer bolts out in front of your car, shattering your headlights and destroying the front of your car. According to a national traffic survey, about 1.5 million car accidents involving deer occur every year in the United States.

A group of people in Philadelphia decided to take advantage of this statistic. Officials charged forty-one people with insurance fraud. Reports allege that an owner of an auto repair shop helped customers to avoid increased insurance premiums by claiming that the accident was the result of a deer running into the road. He even had a dead deer, blood, and other props so that the customers could photograph the "crime scene." 

Needless to say, insurance companies and authorities caught on rather quickly.  The shop owner, customers, and even a police officer were charged in the matter. 

The total amount of money involved in the scam is estimated to be about $5 million. 

I'd say those customer wished they had stuck to the true story right about now.