With so much of the sports news these days about crime and punishment, we here at the 10 Spot decided to look at something completely different -- civil lawsuits. Let's face it: Pacman Jones being charged with two felonies in connection with a strip club triple-shooting that left a man paralyzed is a sad story. Pacman being taken to court by the Titans to keep him out of the pro wrestling ring, on the other hand, is a funny story.
So here are some more sports-related lawsuits from over the years to lighten the mood:
1. Yogi Berra vs. TBS: Yogi probably doesn't ride the New York subways and buses much himself -- nobody takes them anymore because they're too crowded -- but he was displeased to discover the transit-system ads that TBS was running for its Sex & The City repeats in 2004. One spot asked for the definition of a "Yogasm," with the three possible answers listed as: (a) a type of yo-yo; (b) sex with Yogi Berra; or (c) what Samantha has with a guy from yoga class. Berra sued over the "hurtful" ads in January, 2005, asking for $10 million and unlimited Yoo-Hoo. (OK, the Yoo-Hoo part isn't true.) The parties reached an undisclosed settlement in September, 2005. The correct answer was (c), by the way.
2. Damn that Gino Toretta!: It's almost hard to remember that the NFL washout was a legitimate college star, but Bryan Fortay recalls it all too well. The former highly touted prep quarterback from New Jersey charged in a $10 million federal lawsuit in 1993 that then Hurricanes coach Dennis Erickson had promised his dad that he would be the starter if he came to Miami. According to court transcripts, Erickson told Mr. Fortay: "As far as I'm concerned, in all honesty, Bryan Fortay will be the next starter here. In the next two years, he'll play here and he'll have the opportunity to win the Heisman." Instead, Toretta beat out Fortay and won the Heisman for real in 1992. Fortay transferred to Rutgers, which surprisingly he did not sue for being lousy at the time. The Fortays and Miami reached an undisclosed settlement in '96 while Fortay went on to play in the Arena League -- and attend law school.
3. He didn't want to be like Mike: A Portland, Ore., man sued Michael Jordan and Nike for $416 million -- each -- in 2006 because he claimed that Jordan looked too much like him. The 6-foot-tall Allen Heckard told a Portland TV station, "I'm constantly being accused of looking like Michael and it makes it very uncomfortable for me." Alas, the legal system provided Heckard with no succor. He dropped the suit a month later and Nike insisted that that was no cash settlement.
4. South of the border: Remember the carefree days when details of a potential Michael Vick court case drew genuine guffaws rather than gasps of disgust? Yes, it was just two years ago that a Georgia woman sued Vick for allegedly giving her ****. She also claimed that Vick sought treatment for the disease under the alias Ron Mexico. The made-for-the-sports-blogosphere story would have remained Vick's most enduring legacy if he didn't (allegedly) start all this dog-fighting nonsense.
5. So which one is the boob again?: Sure, a lot of Americans were shocked when a supposed wardrobe malfunction displayed Janet Jackson's right breast to the world during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII on Feb. 1, 2004. At least Terri Carlin did something about it. Within a week, the bank teller from Knoxville, Tenn, filed a proposed class-action suit on behalf of "all Americans" seeking billions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages because the boob-on-the-tube had caused viewers to "suffer outrage, anger, embarrassment and serious injury." But don't count your money just yet. Carlin dropped the suit a week later, saying that she's made her point. And if the point was that she's a loon, she was right.
6. Stretching a single into a dollar: A Staten Island mom sued her son's veteran Little League coach this May for allegedly not teaching him how to slide properly. The suit stemmed from an incident three years earlier in which the then 12-year-old belted his first hit of the season and was waved toward second by the first-base coach. Unfortunately, according to the lawsuit, the boy suffered "serious bodily injury" that required multiple surgeries and caused "permanent scarring and disability" from his ill-fated slide into second. We still don't understand why the coach isn't being sued for teaching the youngster to hit. If he had simply whiffed, he never would have had to worry about running those bases of death.
7. Commitment to Exhibits A-Z: Raiders owner Al Davis has been suing the NFL for almost as long as he's been spewing catchphrases. When his planned move from Oakland to Los Angeles was blocked by a court order in 1980, Davis filed an antitrust suit against the NFL. He won, ultimately pocketing $49.2 million in damages, and the Raiders moved south in 1982. Then when Davis moved the franchise back to Oakland in 1995, he sued the NFL again for not having done enough to help the team build a fancy new stadium in L.A. That case dragged on for a dozen years. The NFL won a jury trial in 2001, but a higher court ordered a new trial when it was learned that one of the jurors joked that he hated the Raiders because he had lost money on them. Finally, this July, the California Supreme Court upheld the 2001 verdict. Perhaps the best evidence yet that the 78-year-old Davis has either mellowed or lost a step is that he hasn't sued new commissioner Roger Goodell yet.
8. Kickball's not just for kids anymore: It's for lawyers, too. The World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA) filed suit in 2005 against smaller rival DCKickball. WAKA sought $356,000 in compensatory and punitive damages against DCKickball founder Carter Rabasa, a WAKA defector. WAKA charged that DCKickball had stolen the oh-so-complicated rules of the game from WAKA and that Rabasa had defamed it by allegedly calling WAKA "the Microsoft of kickball." The suit is still kicking around at press time.
9. Maybe he was sneaky-fast: Cole Bartiromo first gained minor infamy as a California teen-ager in 2002 when the Securities and Exchange Commission charged the then 17-year-old with bilking online investors of nearly $1 million by promising "risk-free" profits of as much as 2,500 percent by betting on sporting events through a team of "experts." Soon he would plead guilty to separate charges involving fraudulent sales on eBay and bank fraud that earned him a 33-month sentence in federal prison. But Bartiromo went down swinging: He sued his former high school for $50 million for kicking him off the baseball team once the SEC charges came down. Bartiromo, who claimed that he was being scouted by the Blue Jays and Rangers, alleged that the decision violated his civil rights and destroyed what would have undoubtedly been a wildly successful pro baseball career.
10. What's in a name: In 2003, the Tribune Co., owner of the Cubs, deposited $301,102.50 into the account of Mark Guthrie. Except it wasn't the account of Mark Guthrie, Cubs reliever, but rather Mark Guthrie, newspaper deliveryman at the Hartford (Conn.) Courant, another Tribune property. The mistake went unnoticed for months until Guthrie the pitcher noticed that his wallet was feeling a tad light. When Guthrie the deliveryman was slow to return the cash, the Tribune seized $275,000 before he froze his accounts. The Tribune then filed suit to retrieve the rest. The parties ultimately reached an undisclosed agreement, which we like to think consists of Guthrie the deliveryman being locked in a room with Lou Piniella for 10 minutes.