The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform's has released its list of the Top Ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2011, which were the top vote-getters among those chosen throughout the year by visitors to the FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org website. The lawsuits are:
Convict sues couple he kidnapped for not helping him evade police.
Man illegally brings gun into bar, gets injured in a fight, then sues bar for not searching him for a weapon.
Young adults sue mother for sending cards without gifts and playing favorites.
Woman disagrees with store over 80 cent refund and then sues for $5 million.
Mom files suit against exclusive preschool over child's college prospects.
Man suing for age discrimination says judge in his case is too old.
Obese man sues burger restaurant over not being able to fit into booths.
Woman sues over movie trailer, charging there wasn't enough driving in Drive.
Passenger's lawsuit says cruise ship went too fast and swayed from side to side.
Mother sues Chuck E. Cheese, charging their games encourage gambling in children.
Americans bought record numbers of guns last month amid an apparent surge in popularity for weapons as Christmas presents.
According to the FBI, over 1.5 million background checks on customers were requested by gun dealers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in December. Nearly 500,000 of those were in the six days before Christmas.
It was the highest number ever in a single month, surpassing the previous record set in November.
On Dec 23 alone there were 102,222 background checks, making it the second busiest single day for buying guns in history.
The actual number of guns bought may have been even higher if individual customers took home more than one each.
Explanations for America's surge in gun buying include that it is a response to the stalled economy with people fearing crime waves. Another theory is that buyers are rushing to gun shops because they believe tighter firearms law will be introduced in the future.
The National Rifle Association said people were concerned about self defence because police officer numbers were declining.
A spokesman said: "I think there's an increased realisation that when something bad occurs it's going to be between them and the criminal."
But anti-gun campaigners said those who already owned weapons were simply hoarding more of them due to "fear-mongering" by the NRA.
A spokeswoman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said: "The research we've seen indicates fewer and fewer people are owning more and more guns."
Dave LaRue, of Legendary Guns in Phoenix, Arizona, said Christmas sales were up 25 per cent on the previous year and ammunition sales were also "brisk".
He said: "There are a lot of people concerned about pending gun legislation and the sense about the current administration. People think future availability will be limited and there's a feeling of get it while you can."
The record for gun sales in a single day was set in November, on the day after Thanksgiving, when 129,166 background searches were carried out on customers buying weapons.
Since the near-fatal shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords by a deranged gunman in Tucson, Arizona last January there have been increasing calls for tighter gun control. Miss Giffords survived being shot in the head with a semi-automatic handgun, and six other people were killed.
Ask a handful of emergency medicine specialists about cases like these, and you'll get a cascade of stories about patients with strange objects ingested or inserted in unlikely places. Vegetables, light bulbs, tools, even cell phones and reading glasses have wound up illuminated on x-rays or described on medical charts in U.S. emergency departments.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is leveling a critical glare at the official White House holiday greeting card for not emphasizing Christmas.
The card, seen above, was created for the Obama family by L.A. artist and designer Mark Matuszak. It features an image of Bo, the Obama family dog, in front of a fireplace in the White House library with a poinsettia and other decorations. The card, which makes no direct mention of Christmas and doesn't feature a Christmas tree, states: "From our family to yours, may your holidays shine with the light of the season."
Palin told FOX News that she found it "odd" that the card emphasizes the dog instead of traditions like "family, faith and freedom." She also said that Americans are able to appreciate "American foundational values illustrated and displayed on Christmas cards and on a Christmas tree."
Some 2,400 public employees in Arizona cashed in thousands of hours of unused sick leave last year, costing local and state governments more than $27.9 million at a time when many of them have frozen wages, imposed unpaid time off, cut services and in some cases, raised taxes and fees.
As part of an ongoing examination of public-employee benefits, The Arizona Republic looked at employees of the state, its two largest counties and their biggest cities.
The newspaper found that at least five public employees accrued thousands of hours of sick leave during their careers and were each paid at least $100,000 for it when they retired last year. That's more than double what a privately employed Arizonan earns on average in a year.
The investigation also found that the city of Phoenix paid $10.79 million for unused sick leave to 903 employees last year, for an average payment of $11,958. Payouts went to roughly 6 percent of the 15,000-member city work force.
Supporters of sick-leave payouts say ending the benefit would be unfair because public employees count on them, and they are used to recruit workers.
Critics say the practice, especially during tough economic times, is a waste of money, and that employees should not be rewarded simply for showing up to work and not abusing sick leave.
Among the 12 public employers reviewed, the highest individual sick-leave payouts last year went to four Phoenix police employees. All worked for the city more than three decades before retiring.
The largest payout of $144,279 went to George Richards, a retired Phoenix police commander whose 35 years of accumulated sick-leave payout eclipsed his final year's salary.
Richards told the Republic he understands that some taxpayers might be upset about the large payout, but he said he protected the public and made sacrifices.
``I worked nights, off and on, for 35 years and weekends and holidays,'' he said. ``The first five years I was married I worked on Christmas. ... I was willing for 35 years to do whatever I could to keep increasing my long-term benefit. I knew what the rules were going in, and I played by the rules.''
Scottsdale had the highest average sick-leave payout of $24,443 per employee, with 43 employees collectively receiving slightly more than $1 million. Tempe had the lowest average payout last year at $5,629 for 154 employees.
The state of Arizona, which includes all state agencies, higher education, courts and the retirement systems, last year paid $6.3 million to 502 employees, with an average payout of $12,591.