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Crash of rare Ferrari no joke for Griffin

Auto underwriters may be steering clear of policy submissions from actor-comedian Eddie Griffin.

Last week, Mr. Griffin crashed--and totaled--a rare Ferrari reportedly worth $1.5 million while taking laps at Irwindale Speedway in California.

The car--dubbed a "Ferrari Enzo" after the Italian carmaker's founder--is apparently one of only about 400 of its kind ever produced.

Worse yet: The Enzo reportedly belongs to Mr. Griffin's boss, Daniel Sadek, the executive producer of Mr. Griffin's next movie, "Redline."

Calls seeking information on the car's insurance coverage were not returned.

Mr. Griffin's film credits also include "Norbit" and "Undercover Brother."

ADA suits not just business

A litigant who is in the business of suing businesses for not making their businesses disabled-friendly is not a business.

That March 23 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals deals a blow to California businesses--especially restaurants--that have been looking for a way to stop paraplegic Jarek Molski from suing them under federal and state disability laws. Mr. Molski has sued hundreds of businesses for failing to comply with the statutes.

But California businesses and a federal court have characterized Mr. Molski as a "vexatious litigant" who exploits the disability acts for economic gain, because he does not first seek alternative dispute resolutions. Under the California statute, successful plaintiffs can recover damages.

In Mr. Molski's litigation against restaurant owner M.J. Cable Inc., a Cable executive admitted in a federal court trial that the restaurant's owners knew the Woodland Hills, Calif., eatery did not comply with the disability laws.

Still, the jury ruled against Mr. Molski, and the trial judge refused to grant him a new trial. The judge ruled that, because of his history of financial gain from numerous lawsuits, the jury considered Mr. Molski a business that is not entitled to the protection that the ADA affords individuals.

But in reversing the trial judge, the 9th Circuit ruled that "neither the district court nor the defendant provide any support for concluding that a person may be considered a business and not an individual because of a history of litigiousness."

In addition, the federal appeals court ruled that plaintiffs do not have to frequent a business to sue it for violating the ADA.

Bestseller's theory may be fact or fancy, but it's not plagiarism

Great minds may think alike, but that doesn't mean one of those minds possesses ownership of an idea.

Such was the opinion of a British court, which last week rejected a lawsuit by two authors against the publisher of best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code." In their suit, the individuals contend that the novel's author, Dan Brown, plagiarized their 1982 nonfiction work "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" in crafting the plot of "The Da Vinci Code."

Both books suggest a conspiracy by Christian leaders to cover up that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and they had a child, with that bloodline continuing to this day.

Britain's Court of Appeal in London said copyright law protects an author's labor in researching and writing a manuscript. However, the court said that does not include facts, theories and themes.

Mr. Brown's novel has sold more than 40 million copies since its March 2003 release and has been made into a feature film. He testified last year before a lower court even though he was not named in the suit brought by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh against Random House Inc.

In April of 2006, Justice Peter Smith ruled that Random House had not breached the copyright. The judge said the claim was based on a "selective number of facts and ideas artificially taken out of the book for the purposes of this litigation."

In a twist that will delight fans of a novel so replete with codes and puzzles, the name of a key character, Sir Leigh Teabing, looks suspiciously like a deliberate anagram of Mr. Leigh's last name and a scrambled version of Mr. Baigent's surname.

The plot thickens.

A mystery most foul

Talk about environmental exposures--how do you deal with about 15 million gallons of partially treated sewage that's simply disappeared?

According to the Grand Rapids Press, that's just what happened recently in Kent County, Mich.

The sewage happened to be in a leaking storage lagoon. From there, it flowed into a sinkhole and then--well, nobody knows.

Fifteen million gallons of sewage--even partially treated sewage--would seem pretty difficult to lose. But so far, testing has provided no clue as to the sewage's whereabouts.

So, for the time being, the case of the missing sewage remains unsolved and the extent of the environmental impairment--if any--is still unknown. But perhaps it will just be a matter of following your nose until the mystery's solved.

Contributing: Mark Hofmann, Dave Lenckus, Rupal Parekh, Joanne Wojcik