Obiter Dicta

Ho, Ho, Ho (Mmmm, Ho-Hos)

You Better Watch Out, Be Careful What You Do, ’Cause Santa’s Got Gout and a Lawyer or Two

Posted Dec 29, 2005 7:02 AM CDT
By Brian Sullivan

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Over the years (so we’re told), old St. Nick has shimmied down many a chimney and gobbled up many a caloric treat. All of which feeds into the lore of the jolly fat man making his Christmas Eve rounds--and piling on the Christmas Eve pounds.

Could your contribution to the size of Santa’s backside come back to bite you in yours?

The Center for Consumer Freedom thinks so. It takes the tongue-in-cheek view that litigation is rampant--Is the coffee too hot? Sue!--and even a benign gesture such as leaving a treat for Santa could conceivably land you on the wrong end of a lawsuit Too heavy? Sue!

But Kris Kringle wouldn’t do that, would he? Who knows, but why take a chance? The advocacy group supported by the food industry and described by spokesman Dan Mindus as “a nonprofit that pushes back against politicians who want to regulate or litigate food policies”--has drafted a Christmas Cookie Liability and Indemnification Agreement.

The legal waiver states that Santa agrees not to sue for your failure to provide nutrition information and a list of ingredients, to offer healthier alternative treats, to warn him that cookies may be habit-forming, and to notify him that eating too many can lead to even greater obesity.

So put out the treats, but don’t forget the waiver--and a pen.

Unappetizing Apparitions

Restaurant Owners Have Reservations About Sharing Space With Spooks

Well, it would have made for an interesting final walk-through.

The owners of Amura Japanese Restaurant in Orlando, Fla., were in the process of moving into the new Church Street Station shopping complex. Business had been good at their original site, so they needed to expand. The rent had been negotiated and the lease signed, but the whole thing came to a screeching (and wailing) halt in October 2004. That was when the restaurant’s owners, Yoko and Christopher Chung, claimed the building--said to be a former brothel--was haunted by the spirits of the murdered offspring of prostitutes.

Citing religious beliefs and a desire to avoid the ghostly stigma that would attach to their business, the Chungs told their landlord--a company called F.F. Station--that they would not be honoring their lease.

The landlord responded by offering to have an exorcism performed, though that didn’t gibe with Christopher Chung’s beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness. Then in August, the landlord filed a lawsuit, reportedly seeking $2.6 million to cover damages and 10 years’ rent.

“The lease says tenants are to inspect and accept the property as is,” says David Simmons, the lawyer representing F.F. Station. “We offered to exorcise the premises; they declined. We are moving for summary judgment very shortly.”

Lynn Franklin, the attorney representing the Chungs, says they made good-faith efforts to honor the lease.

“The Chungs have been forthright,” she says. “They made a substantial offer. They wanted the restaurant very much.” For now, the site serves as the first stop on a tour of “haunted” areas.

Written by Brian Sullivan; Stories by Orlando Sentinel, ConsumerFreedom.com; Research by Wendell LaGrand.

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