Let's talk lawsuits — real, threatened, and raising hackles (or at least eyebrows) around here lately.
First, a story that started off sounding like a charming bit of local history.
In 1861, a storekeeper named Thomas Pugh Kennedy loaned the city of Tampa $299.58 in ammo and supplies to defend the town. (The city was apparently a little short, and this Kennedy guy, an important pioneer, sounds like a stand-up citizen. I mean, anyone wanna pick up the tab for the downtown Riverwalk? Me neither.)
Fast forward to 2008 and great-granddaughter Joan Kennedy Biddle. She has the historic handwritten promissory note for which the debt was never paid, she says. And she wants to donate that interesting document to the local history museum, right?
Actually, she's suing. For the nearly 300 bucks her poor family had to do without lo these many years, plus the promised 8 percent annual interest. Total: $22.7-million. Yes, million.
The city's lawyer is expected to ask a judge to toss the case for several reasons, including the length of time that has passed. But doesn't the very idea bother you, this litigiousness as the American Way? That we Ask Gary before we ask ourselves if suing is the right thing to do? That, hey, now that you mention it, I was Injured by the Carelessness of Others and Through No Fault of My Own?
How about the idea of someone probably undamaged by a loss of cash nearly a century-and-a-half ago suing a city in these times of layoffs and cutbacks?
In better news, we have Bubba the Love Sponge. (Now there's a sentence you don't see every day.)
Of late, our most infamous radio shock jock (remember him acquitted of the on-air slaughter of a pig? Fined big time by the FCC? Making a name for himself with his own brand of smut-and-burp humor?) was critical of Mark Lunsford, questioning whether the man exploited the murder of his 9-year-old daughter Jessica.
Lunsford's lawyer was talking lawsuit unless Bubba took it back.
But this week, things are looking way more Kumbaya. Lunsford is expected to sit down with members of the Citrus County Sheriff's Office to talk about how they investigate missing child cases, and he ultimately may drop plans to sue them — part of a plan brokered by Bubba's lawyers. The DJ will allegedly stop talking bad about Lunsford. And if all goes well, the courthouse won't see any of this.
Unfortunately, there's more, on a related front.
Bubba also stands accused of talking smack about radio rival Todd "MJ" Schnitt and his wife Michelle. (If anyone thinks the Schnitts' lawsuit is pure publicity stunt cooked up between two DJs, well, I have an awfully hard time believing the guy would be willing to let his wife get called something as ugly as a "whore," as the lawsuit alleges.)
MJ accuses Bubba (and does anyone else think all this sounds like the warm-up to a professional wrestling smack-down?) of false "intentional and malicious attacks, fighting words and defamatory remarks," including, but not limited to, calling MJ a "midget" and a "snitch."
Clearly, Bubba got under his skin. The lawsuit made news, giving Bubba two things important to his job: attention and reaction.
Hey, MJ — that really where you were headed with this?