Obiter Dicta

Busting a Move

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It might be just the excuse that men everywhere have been seeking. After all, if one can be sued for the manner in which one dances, then wouldn’t it be prudent to park oneself with a beverage and observe instead?

In a lawsuit filed in April in Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Court, Lacey Hindman of Chicago alleges that “negligent dancing” caused the serious injuries she suffered as a result of a bizarre accident at an after-hours party.

Hindman, 22, worked at Shop Girl, a women’s boutique in the city. In April 2006, according to Hindman’s attorney, David M. Baum of Chicago, she attended a mandatory party at a local bar and restaurant after a book signing at the boutique.

Baum says Hindman was dancing in a group when her boss’s husband, David Prange, pulled her out of the group to dance with him. Then, Baum says, Prange lifted Hindman in a jitterbug-type move and flipped her, causing her to land on her head.

Hindman, who says she sustained a fractured skull and a subdural hematoma from the incident, is suing Prange for damages including medical bills, pain and suffering, and permanency of her injuries. She also has a workers’ compensation case pending against Shop Girl.

Prange could not be reached for comment.

My ex-wife? That’s him there

Man Challenges Court-Ordered Commitment After Former Spouse Forsakes Femininity

“You’re not the same person I married!”

That oft-heard spousal lament is not meant to be taken literally. Not usually, anyway. Lawrence Roach was married to Julia Roach for 18 years before Julia decided to see how the other half lives. After they divorced, transgender surgery made a man of Julia, now known as Julio Roberto Silverwolf.

Roach, 48, of Largo, Fla., had been ordered to pay his ex-wife alimony until her death or remarriage. But when Julia became Julio, Roach decided all bets were off.

Why, he asked the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court for Pinellas County, should he pay alimony to a man if it would be illegal for him to marry a man? He also argued that the transition from female to male was the equivalent of his ex-wife’s death. Judge Jack R. St. Arnold disagreed. He said, in effect, that people retain their birth gender for life surgical alterations notwithstanding and that Silverwolf could not be legally recognized as a man in Florida.

Lambda Legal, which represented Silverwolf, said in a press release that the ruling holds good news and bad: “While the end result of the court ruling is good for our client,” it said, “it’s wrong to call our client a woman when Julio is a man.”

The case is on appeal, but Roach’s co-counsel, John McGuire of Clearwater, says that Florida courts need to come to grips with the legal status of transgender people. Says McGuire: “They need to recognize Julio as a man.”

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