-- The Brooklyn, N.Y., organization Shalom Bayis ("Household Peace" in Hebrew) closed down its 24-hour mistress hotline in January after an unfavorable New York Daily News story. A Shalom Bayis spokesman said the hotline's purpose was to place its 40 volunteer mistresses with unsatisfied husbands in order to stop the "plague of divorce" menacing Jewish couples. Although Shalom Bayis claimed to take no fee for its services, it did admit that after the Daily News story, most of the hotline callers were single men and happily married men who just wanted sex.
-- One Man, One Vote: Because of an obscure state constitutional amendment that few voters and politicians noticed, the terms of office of the four incumbents on the Loretto, Ky., City Council automatically expired in November without their having had an opportunity to campaign for re-election. Travis Greenwell, 23, voting by absentee ballot, was perhaps the only person in town (population 800) who read the voting literature and thus cast the only votes in the election. For the four slots, he wrote in the names of his mother, his uncle, a friend and a local character who runs a hardware store. (All except the hardware store guy declined to serve.)
-- Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Phoenix cosmetic surgeon Steven Locniker, on the lam for avoiding child-support charges, was arrested in September after he called attention to himself as Cosmopolitan magazine's "Bachelor of the Month." And Thomas Georgevitch, 22, on the lam for impersonating a police officer, was arrested in Bay Shore, N.Y., in October after a detective heard him call in to a radio station to make a song request (Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man"). And Tom Tipton, 63, wanted on two warrants in Minneapolis, was arrested in November when a sheriff's officer recognized his name as the man singing the national anthem before the Vikings-Broncos game.
THE LITIGIOUS SOCIETY
-- Chris Morris filed a $1 million lawsuit against the state of Michigan in November, claiming that he caught a cold in the rotunda of the state Capitol while viewing an art exhibit there earlier in the year.
-- Dale L. Larson's $41,000 trial-court award was upheld by a Wisconsin appeals court in October, which agreed with the trial court that the Indianhead golf course in Wausau was 51 percent responsible for Larson's needing nine root canals and 23 dental crowns. Larson tripped on his golf spikes and fell hard on his face on a brick path outside the clubhouse, and he argued that he wouldn't have fallen if it had been a smooth concrete sidewalk rather than a brick path. The trial court had found that only 49 percent of the accident was due to Larson's having consumed 13 drinks that evening, which left him with a blood-alcohol level of 0.28 90 minutes after the fall.
-- Andrew Daniels filed a $500,000 lawsuit against M&M/Mars Co. and a Cleveland retailer because one of the Peanut M&Ms he bit down on had no peanut in it, and as a result, his teeth bit through his lip, which required his hospitalization and various surgery bills. One claim against the retailer is under the legal theory of "failure to inspect" the candy.
-- In August, Julie Leach filed a lawsuit in Macomb County, Mich., seeking at least $10,000 from the owners of a beagle named Patch, which Leach said was constantly enticing Leach's German shepherd, Holly, to chase him. In 1995, during one of Patch's escapades, the pursuing Holly was run over by a car and killed. Leach says Patch's owners should pay for permitting their dog to harass Holly.
-- Jamie Brooks, 18, filed a $5 million claim against Kiowa County, Oklahoma, in June, asserting that it is the county's fault that she became pregnant six months earlier while housed in the jail awaiting her murder trial. She said the father is inmate-trusty Eddie Alonzo, who had access to the hallways and who she said impregnated her through the bars of her cell.
-- In July, Alex Alzaldua filed a $25,000 lawsuit against Dennis Hickey in Raymondville, Texas, alleging injuries caused by his "suddenly without warning" having tripped over Hickey's dog in the kitchen of Hickey's home. According to the lawsuit, Hickey should have warned Alzaldua that he was walking around in the kitchen "at his own risk" and that Hickey had failed to warn Alzaldua of "the dog's propensity of lying in certain areas."
CLICHES COME TO LIFE
-- Trucker Franciszek Zygadlo was committed to a mental institution in Rochester, N.Y., in November after he led police on a 280-mile, high-speed chase in his trailerless cab through three states in September. According to police, after finally driving the truck into Irondequoit Bay, Zygadlo ran toward the officers and proclaimed himself a hero for defusing a bomb on the truck that he said would have exploded if he had ever slowed to less than 40 mph.
-- On Oct. 17 firefighters took two hours to extinguish a fire at the Cal-Compack Foods plant in Las Cruces, N.M., that started when a silo full of red chile powder grew so hot that it began to smolder.
-- In August, the Caron family of Sandown, N.H., was granted an extension of time to file a quarterly federal tax return after they discovered that their home had been ransacked by the family's pet pygmy goats while they were on vacation. Among the items the goats had eaten were toilet bowl cleaner, a lampshade, a telephone directory, and all of the family's income tax paperwork.
-- Jeen Han, 22, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder in Irvine, Calif., in November, against her twin sister, Sunny. According to a police lieutenant, the "evil twin" was angry that the "good twin" had snitched on her regarding stolen credit cards and thus wanted to kill her and assume her identity.
THINNING THE HERD
In November, a 60-year-old Polish man in the village of Kosianka Trojanowka, identified only as "Czeslaw B," was accidentally shot to death by two homemade guns he had mounted on his garage door to ward off trespassers (just two of 28 booby traps in his house). And in Slidell, La., in December, Jason Jinks, 20, decided to open his car door and back up at 25 mph in order to look for his hat that had just fallen off; when he hit the brakes, he fell out on his head and, three days later, died.
Veteran Belleville, Ill., jail inmate Kelvin Lewis, asked by the Belleville Journal in January to evaluate the jail's new black-and-white, thick-horizontal-striped uniforms, graded them an 11 on a 10-scale: "I like their style. The younger generation will like (the rolled-up cuffs)."
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