Artichoke-Eating Instructions and Electrolysis for Convicted Killer among ‘Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2010’

By Melanie Hunter-Omar | January 6, 2011 | 1:05 PM EST

( – A lawsuit against a restaurant for failing to offer artichoke-eating instructions and a convicted killer’s lawsuit to receive electrolysis as part of a state-funded sex change are among the top five Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2010 compiled by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

The Faces of Lawsuit Abuse campaign was launched by ILR to raise public awareness of the impact that abusive lawsuits have on small businesses, communities, and individuals. Small business account for 64 percent of new jobs in the economy, and they paid $105.4 billion in tort liability costs in 2008.

“While many of these lawsuits are humorous and others quite troubling, the damage inflicted by abusive litigation is very real,” said ILR President Lisa Rickard. “More litigation is something we can ill afford in this troubled economy that desperately needs more jobs, not more lawsuits.”

Number five on the list was the lawsuit filed by Dr. Arturo Carvjal, a doctor with a family practice in Hollywood, who sued Houston’s Restaurant because he was sent to the hospital with severe abdominal pain and discomfort after eating an entire artichoke.

Dr. Carvjal ordered grilled artichokes, and according to a copy of the court document, the waiter did not ask him if he knew how to eat them and did not explain that he shouldn’t eat the outer leaves.

“It takes a sophisticated diner to be familiar with the artichoke,” Dr. Carvajal’s lawyer, Marc Ginsberg was quoted as saying. “People might think that as a doctor, he’d know how to eat one. But he was thinking it was like a food he might have eaten in his native Cuba, where you eat everything on the plate.”

Number four was a child-molesting teacher who tried to countersue a 13-year-old boy’s parents for failing to protect the child from her.

Ann Knopf pleaded guilty in October 2008 for having sex with the victim in her home while her family members slept.

Knopf’s attorney, John P. Runde, claimed that the boy’s parents contributed to his injuries by not cutting off his email access. Jacob’s parents, Christopher and Cheryl Brekken, saw an email that their son sent to someone named “Mara S” and suspected he was involved in an inappropriate relationship. His mother told police that she did not cut off his email access, because she wanted proof that her son was involved with Knopf.

“Knopf’s assignment of blame to Jacob’s parents represents convoluted reasoning reminiscent of Lewis Carroll,” the Wisconsin Court of Appeals said. “We will not follow down the rabbit hole and open the door for a child molester to sue the victim’s parents for their failure to lock their child away or for their ineffectiveness in trying to stop the child from being sexually abused.”

Number three was the electrolysis lawsuit. Michelle Kosilek, formerly known as Robert when he was convicted of killing his wife, had sued Massachusetts twice to pay for a sex-change operation and had been receiving hormones at the prison. He said he would settle for electrolysis while waiting for a Boston judge to rule on his request on the operation.

A judge rejected his request for electrolysis saying Kosilek failed to prove "irreparable harm" or a "serious medical need" for the hair removal treatment in prison. Kosilek’s attorney said Kosilek considered it "intensely personally stressful" having facial hair.

The Massachusetts Department of Correction had argued that Kosilek could shave or use depilatories. Prison officials believe that if Kosilek receives a sex-change operation – at the cost of $10,000 to $20,000 – Kosilek would be the target of sexual assault while in prison.

Number two on the list was the lawsuit of a girl who sued the estate of a pregnant woman she killed during a suicide attempt.

A girl in Kalispell, Mont., who was charged with two counts of intentional homicide after police said she tried to commit suicide by driving into oncoming traffic, filed a lawsuit against the estate of 35-year-old Erin Thompson, claiming that Thomson caused the crash. Thompson, who was four months pregnant, and her 13-year-old son died in the collision.

Police believe the girl attempted suicide after arguing with her boyfriend earlier that day, because shortly before the accident, she sent him several text messages, including one that said, “Good bye ... My last words ..." and one that said, "If I won. I would have you. And I wouldn't crash my car."

The lawsuit, which was filed by her and her father, says the girl suffered permanent injuries, mental pain and suffering, and cites loss of income along with past, present and future medical expenses.

And topping the list was a woman who sued Oprah and President Bush, claiming that they “implanted a camera with wire sensors into her with the intent of reincarnation.”

Emily K. Braxton claims that on Feb. 19 and Oct. 20, talk-show host and media mogul Oprah, President George W. Bush, Laura Bush and three physicians - Drs. John Anthony DeLuca, Richard Umstot and Benjamin Dyers - poisoned her and caused her to have surgery, during which doctors implanted a 3-D camera Lucida with a film pack or plate and a wire sensor into her.

The complaint, filed Dec. 9 in Kanawha Circuit Court in West Virginia, alleges that Braxton is being monitored 24 hours a day by the defendants through the camera. She’s seeking $50 billion in damages.