Courting trouble

There are a million and a half stories in the naked county, more or less, and the most tragic, difficult and bizarre wind up in Sacramento County Superior Court.

Some cases filed just in the last month: A couple sign up for rugged Old West wagon train tour in the foothills not far from Sacramento.

It’s all old-timey fun and games, until a woman finds herself in the path of a runaway horse. At least, that’s the allegation in her lawsuit. She’s now suing the tour operator for her medical bills and emotional distress. Her husband is also a plaintiff, asking for compensation because of the “loss of consortium” with his wife.

Another brand-new case: A once almost-famous R&B band, early pioneers of something called “new jack swing” (think big blousy pants, high haircuts and keyboards worn with shoulder straps like guitars) failed to show in Sacramento for the Super ’90s Love Jam concert earlier this year. Their managers wind up in superior court fending off a concert promoter trying to get back a $9,000 deposit.

A security guard at a south Sacramento McDonald’s restaurant, accused of “personal hatred of homeless individuals,” is being sued because, according to said homeless individual, he “approached the plaintiff while he was on the sidewalk, made obscene comments to him and then sprayed him in the face with pepper spray.”

Sadly, most of the business of the Superior Court goes something like

this: John Doe borrows money, gets behind, gets sued by his creditor.

Bites doesn’t know if it’s just the time of year, or just the era, but the same names appear over and over again in the upper left-hand corner of these court filings, beneath the word “plaintiff.” JPMorgan Chase & Co., American Express, Citibank, Discover Bank—day after day, every day, the big creditors are the most recognizable and most prolific litigants.

Sure, the court is still there to sort out all the citizen-on-citizen action, the breaches of contract, the illegal encroachments, the occasional pepper spraying. But the court’s biggest job seems to be collections.

Since the credit-card companies, mortgage holders and collection agencies are the ones getting the most use out of our county courthouse, perhaps they ought to kick in towards the $550 million the state plans to spend building a new Sacramento County court building. Seems the current building was built to handle just a fraction of the caseload that comes through now.

Speaking of making the bastards pay: You’ve probably heard of

Robert William Durst? He’s the Oak Park man being charged with six felony counts of arson for allegedly blowing up his neighbor’s house last July.

Last month, the city of Sacramento also filed a lawsuit against Durst, demanding compensation to the city for the medical bills and workers’ compensation costs for four Sacramento firefighters who walked into the house just as it exploded and were seriously injured.

The city is asking the court to make Durst pay $105,260, but Bites doesn’t think there’s much chance he’ll shell out.

Ironically, according to newspaper accounts, Durst told acquaintances he was angry with his neighbors because they allegedly owed him money for a plumbing job he did.

Using arson to settle a debt? If only he’d chosen to take his neighbor to court.