- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2004

Nobles: The jury of the U.S. District Court of Kansas City, for refusing to give a jackpot award to a joke of a lawsuit.

Earlier this week, something unexpected happened in a federal district courthouse. A jury faced with a laughable lawsuit actually laughed it out of court.

The case began with an actual joke. Three years ago, Southwest Airlines flight attendant Jennifer Cundiff was attempting to direct passengers to find a seat aboard a crowded flight departing from Las Vegas. She said into the intercom, “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go.” Considering their likely losses, many of the passengers probably needed the lift of laughter.

Grace Fuller and her sister, Louise Sawyer, didn’t get the joke. The Kansas City residents thought that Miss Cundiff was making a reference to an old, obscure racist version of the rhyme. The sisters said they felt singled out and humiliated.

So after making a few complaints, the sisters sued Southwest for violating civil rights law. After a two-day trial this week, the jury took less than an hour to return a verdict in favor of the defendant. No jackpot in this lawsuit sweepstakes.

Knaves: David Lee Ellisor, the serial scammer who stole Christmas.

Unlike his namesake, the Grinch, Mr. Ellisor does not hate Christmas. He seems to rather like it. Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow put a greedy gleam in his eyes. Mr. Ellisor took advantage of that holiday spirit by staging a “Christmas From Around the World” show for young schoolchildren in the Miami area. Thousands of students paid $10 apiece to see the show and participate in a promised scavenger hunt.

But, when the excited children arrived for the show, they found the building shuttered and Mr. Ellisor missing. Those who tried to contact him got an answering machine. Those who drove to the two addresses listed on his business brochure found themselves at a pilates studio and a bridge.

The Grinch eventually returned the gifts he stole, but Mr. Ellisor is unlikely to do so. Bank records show that he transferred funds from the ticket receipts to another account, which he drew upon to pay for items on his personal Christmas list. Despite the estimated $30,000 to $50,000 that the scam netted him, he still skipped out on a $1,600 tab for a two-week stay at a Miami-area hotel.

Mr. Ellisor finally surrendered to U.S. marshals this week and was promptly charged with mail fraud. He is likely to be behind bars for some time, since he is wanted in several jurisdictions for similar scams. Next Christmas is likely to be much merrier with Mr. Ellisor in a cage.

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