Obiter Dicta

Recluse Rodent

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Barbara Gosselin and her husband, Jean, have a pet that is quite affection­ate and loves to have its belly rubbed. But it’s unlikely that this pet will roll over or fetch anyone’s slippers–she’s a gray squirrel and her name is Nutkin.

Given to the Gosselins in 1994 when they resided in South Carolina, Nutkin led a carefree existence and lived in bliss­­ful obscurity. That is, until the government came calling.

Responding to a 2002 call from the Gosselins that someone was hunting illegally on their rural Pennsyl­vania property, a wildlife conservation officer noticed Nutkin in an outdoor enclosure and cited the couple for illegally keeping game or wildlife.

Not so fast, says Dirk Berger, the attorney for the Gosselins. Nutkin was acquired in South Carolina, where it’s legal to keep a squirrel, and is there­fore “possessed lawfully under Rule 2307c” of the Pennsyl­vania Game and Wildlife Code.

The case is currently on appeal to the Su­per­ior Court. If the Gosselins lose the appeal, Berger says, the game commission will try to reacclimate the animal to the wild. If the attempt fails, he says, “They will dispatch the animal.”

Translation: It will be cur­tains for Nutkin.

Until the case is resolved, Nutkin passes the time, Dick Cheney-like, at an undisclosed location the home of a family friend who is fond of squirrels and went out on a limb to help.

Fax in Issue

Trolling for Business? You’ll Really Get a Bite from These Lawyers

Junk e-mails can be annoying, obnoxious and even obscene, but they don’t cost anything more than the time spent deleting them.

Junk faxes, on the other hand, exact a toll by consuming paper and toner that eventually must be replenished. Not only that, say two Chicago lawyers, unsolicited faxes also prevent legitimate faxes from getting through on time.

Stephen Kersch­ner and Burton Witt–who have separate practices but share office space–have gone on the offensive and filed lawsuits against dozens of senders of unsolicited faxes, including mortgage companies, hotels, health clubs and dating services. They’re targeting “every imagin­able type of business,” says their attorney, Daniel Edelman. The Tel­ephone Consumer Protec­tion Act, notes Edelman, prohibits transmission of un­solicited faxes. He adds, “All faxes must identify the party that’s sending.”

Kerschner and Witt are seeking statutory damages under the act. They hope to be granted class action status in most of their lawsuits, on behalf of at least 60 other plaintiffs, according to Edelman.

The pair most recently made a splash when they sued a Chicago radio station, WSCR-AM, known as “The Score,” for sending them an unsolicited fax detailing rates for air time. The fax included graphics, logos and bold print, all of which use more toner than a normal fax, they contend.

Attempts to elicit comment from The Score were unsuccessful. Edelman has one bit of cut-and-dried advice for those who clog the information superhighway with unsolicited faxes: “People should cease engaging in the practice and they would not get sued.”

Scout’s Honor?

Mealtime Mishap Prompts Troop Leader’s Tirade, Boy’s Banishment

Any Boy Scout worth his sash knows that the organization’s motto is “Be Pre­pared.” But a New Jersey scout was unprepared to handle the reaction to his suppertime slipup. The incident reportedly took place during a weekend campout in May. Rob­bie Kent, an 11-year-old member of Troop 404 in Vernon, wanted to sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese on his spaghetti. While trying to make it flow more freely, he accidentally dumped the entire contents of the container onto his plate.

Then, says the boy’s dad, Timothy Kent, troop leader William O’Mealy “just lost it. He started screaming. He was red-faced.”

O’Mealy allegedly told Robbie to stay seated until he ate all of the cheese, and admonished him for wasting troop money.

The incident left the boy shaken and he retreated to his tent. O’Mealy could not be reached for comment.

A meeting between troop leaders and the boy’s parents to discuss the situation resulted in the expulsion of the Kent family from the troop and all its activities.

Timothy Kent and his wife, Adahyliah, filed a lawsuit in Newton Super­ior Court against the troop leaders, as well as the entire Boy Scout organization. They are seeking unstated punitive and compensatory damages, the dismissal of O’Mealy and the reinstatement of their son, including any awards he would have received.

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