Lawyer’s Defective-Breakfast Suit Dismissed

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In one of the year's least-surprising results so far, Richard Katz's lawsuit against his health club has been dismissed. Katz sued The Setai Wall Street Club and Spa last year, alleging it had broken a promise to provide him with a free and fully adequate breakfast.

Katz, who is an attorney in Manhattan, was paying $5,000 a year in dues to this place, but while free cereal doesn't seem like too much to ask for that price, filing suit is not the right response to not getting it. (One idea: cancel that nonsense, join 24-Hour Fitness or whatever instead and then buy yourself $4,000 worth of cereal. You're welcome.)

The breakfast crisis began in August 2011, when the club either ran out of the yogurt and cereal he normally consumed or just decided to stop providing it. He complained, and the response was apparently not to his liking. Katz eventually sent an email demanding "WHAT THE F— IS GOING ON? … How would you like to explain there [sic] has been no yogurt for two (2) weeks and now no cereal. When does the coffee run out?" he concluded sarcastically.

CerealTo me, the great thing about this email is not that a lawyer got furious over somebody failing to dish up yogurt and cereal. It's that even in the grip of fury, he still wrote "two (2) weeks." Why do people do this? Maybe it made sense when things were written in longhand, but now that we have email and printers and whatnot there is generally not much controversy over what "two" is supposed to mean. If you haven't picked up this habit yet, don't.

Anyway, that email was apparently the last straw for the manager, who canceled his membership after that and accused him of "blatantly harass[ing] [her] in a threatening manner …." Katz then sued, demanding well over $100,000 in damages for the breakfast deprivation, plus $5,000 from the manager for allegedly libeling him in the email, which she shared with someone.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Ellen Coin dismissed the case this week, according to the New York Daily News. While there seems to have been no written opinion, according to the manager's attorney the judge told Katz at the hearing that "he should be ashamed of himself" for filing the suit. That's hearsay, but the judge did order Katz to pay $440 in costs, which suggests what she thought of the case. The manager's attorney praised the decision for throwing out a case that was "embarrassing to the profession."

"This restores credibility to the system," he went on. I wouldn't go that far, but it's a good decision.