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Christmas Carols Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

The most wonderful time of the year….well, not for everyone.  

Traditional plum pudding, sometimes known as Christmas pudding, contains coins or other charms and finding one in your pudding is a symbol of good luck.  Biting into one in your pudding could also mean a chipped tooth, not to mention is a choking hazard.   This is why some London restaurants are requiring patrons to sign lawsuit waivers before being served with traditional plum pudding. It is unclear if anyone has suffered injuries from the Christmas pudding and whether or not these waivers have held up in court.  

A little closer to home, inmates in Arizona sued the infamous Sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, for subjecting them to cruel and unusual punishment.  The inmates alleged being forced to listen to Christmas carols violated their civil and religious rights and was cruel and unusual punishment.  The Sheriff is especially fond of Christmas carols and played the songs twelve hours per day in the jails.  He said, “Maybe the holiday music can help lift the spirits of the men and women who are away from friends and family during the holidays, not just the inmates, but the dedicated men and women who work in the Maricopa County Jails.”  The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed in December 2009 with the Sheriff saying, “Inmates should stop acting like the Grinch who stole Christmas.”  

If you’ve watched any holiday movies ever you’ve undoubtedly seen the 1983 movie, A Christmas Story.  The actor who played the bully Scut Farkus, Zack Ward, filed suit in 2012 against MGM/Warner Brothers.  Ward alleged he was owed money for products made and sold based on the movie.  Interestingly, Ward was not initially cast to play Farkus, but was to play a much smaller role.  The producers then switched Ward’s role with another child’s, giving him the bigger role of Farkus. However, Ward’s contract was never changed to match those of the other main characters, which gave MGM/Warner Brothers the rights to make products from the movie using the actors’ likenesses.  Ward alleged he was entitled to money Warner Brothers made from products using his likeness such as playing cards, a board game, and a calendar.  After a judge declined to dismiss Ward’s lawsuit, the parties resolved the matter out of court.  It appears no Red Ryder BB guns or leg lamps were involved in this lawsuit.  

The owners of Greenberg Smoked Turkeys brought a copyright infringement lawsuit against a competitor in Texas. Greenberg alleged three paragraphs of preparation instructions that came with its turkeys had been ripped off and posted on the website of its gobbling rival.

Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year!! 

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