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5 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines.

Byline: Zach Warren

Finger (after finger after finger) lickin' good

KFC has become world renowned for the Colonel's secret chicken recipe, but that recipe probably doesn't include eight-legged chickens. Don't tell that to three Chinese media companies, however, who KFC says is "misleading the consumer" by spreading Internet rumors of rather unsavory chickens.

Yum Brands Inc., the parent company of KFC, has sued Ying Chen An Zhi Chenggong Culture Communications Ltd., Wei Lu Kuang Technology, and Ling Dian Technology, claiming that the three companies have adversely affected sales through false articles and blog posts. The fake posts, KFC says, claim that the fast-food chain serves customers chickens that have six wings and eight legs. The lawsuit seeks 1.5 million yuan (about $245,000) from each company, an apology and an end to the alleged practices.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit is part of a strategy to help the company rebound in China. KFC's sales in the country are down 9 percent from the year before, to $1.26 billion, following declines in the third and fourth quarters of 2014.

Reward: A free trip to court!

Rewards points are the joy of any frequent traveler's existence: Travel enough, and you'll receive some cool perks along the way! Or, if you're Robert Chat, maybe you don't have to travel at all. All you have to do is expose a glitch in Choice Hotels International's online reservation system.

In a lawsuit against Chat, Choice Hotels International, one of the world's largest hotel chains, claims that the 38-year-old illegally redeemed gift cards worth $48,500 in a rewards program for loyal customers. Chat, you see, had discovered that making reservations at Choice hotels, then later canceling the same reservations, did not erase rewards points. The hotelier says that Chat performed this action hundreds of times, then redeemed the ill-gotten awards at a wide variety of stores and restaurants, including Dunkin' Donuts, Home Depot, Target and Applebee's.

Talking with the Tampa Bay Times, Chat believes that his actions are entirely legal. "I'll be hiring a lawyer tomorrow to fight the suit as there was nothing done illegal nor was anything done in malice. I stayed at over 1,100 Choice hotels in the last five years ... I worked with their bonus structure to obtain points." He also added, "I'm not even computer literate. If I obtained more rewards than allowed, it's on their end, not mine. As I've stayed in their hotels exclusively for over six years, points do accumulate."

Catch me if you can

The federal government has been trying to take down the Mongols Motorcycle Club for years, saying that the notorious outlaw gang intimidates, harasses and even kills other members of the community. Now, the government has the Mongols right where they want them: in trademark court?

In a racketeering trial in Los Angeles federal court, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is attempting to seize the Mongols' logo, saying that it is a banner under which the gang's members commit heinous acts. In attempting to take over the Mongols' name and logo, which have been granted as trademark by the USPTO, the DOJ would make displaying the group's "warrior with a Fu Manchu" logo and its "colors" illegal. The case dates back to 2008, but it has received renewed interest following the deadly fights between rival biker gangs in Texas.

The Mongols, meanwhile, tell The Wall Street Journal that the DOJ's characterization of the group as criminal is false. "Law enforcement is going out there trying to demonize and vilify us. But we are just like everyone else," said David "Lil Dave" Santillan, the Mongols' international president. "We are a motorcycle club. We just want to ride and be free."

Which is which?

Robinson Santos Colon is on the run, wanted by police in Enfield, Conn., on a sexual assault charge. In 2014, Robinson Santos was flagged, and later arrested, when attempting to get his permanent residence card in The Bronx, N.Y. There's just one problem: Despite sharing a birthday and having a similar name, Robinson Santos was not the fugitive Robinson Santos Colon.

Santos filed suit against the Enfield Police Department, claiming that his civil rights were violated when he was forced to spend three weeks in jail awaiting extradition to Connecticut. Strangely, this mix-up had almost happened before, but while Enfield police asked for Santos's photograph in 2012 and quickly determined he was not the man they were looking for, the department did not do so this time.

According to the Hartford Courant, town attorney Kevin Deneen claims that the insurance carrier and the police department each did an investigation into the incident and that officers were "appropriate given the seriousness of the charge the town and police acted appropriately." Still, Enfield has offered a settlement of $25,000, which the town councilors on The Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency approved.

Sued to rest

Funerals, especially of one's spouse, can be the toughest day in a person's life. When the body needs to be shipped from the United States to the Domincan Republic in order to be laid to rest with loved ones, the wait can make things even tougher. And when the body finally arrives in, let's say, less than pristine condition, it can be enough to drive a grieving widow to litigation.

Ercilia Luna has filed suit in Brooklyn Supreme Court against Ponce Funeral Homes, claiming that the company thoroughly mishandled the shipment of her 58-year-old husband, Genaro Luna, to the Dominican Republic in 2014. First, she claims, the funeral home delivered his body two days late. Then, once it did arrive, she claims that the casket was "leaking fluids" and his body was "badly decomposed and had changed to a color of black and [was] emanating foul odor." As a result, Ercilia Luna was forced to cancel the open-casket funeral she had planned in Santiago.

Manager David Martinez of Ponce Funeral Homes tells the New York Post that they had not heard of any problems with Luna's remains, and that the funeral home had been working with Ercilia Luna to resolve any complaints with American Airlines over the delay. He says that the casket and air tray were in fine shape when they were sent to the airport. "I'm shocked, because we've been diligently working with her to assist her in this matter," he said.
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Publication:Inside Counsel Breaking News
Date:Jun 15, 2015
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