The Odd Truth, April 10, 2003

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Salon Clipped For $6,000 In Bad Hair Suit

ST. LOUIS - A jury awarded $6,000 to a woman who sued a hair salon, claiming that bad hair treatment left her depressed and led her to seek early retirement.

Geremie Hoff, 56, of suburban Creve Coeur, sued the Elizabeth Arden Salon for emotional distress, depression, counseling and lost income.

According to testimony, Hoff went to the salon Aug. 9, 2001, seeking to have her curly hair straightened.

Stylist Reye Hudson, who is still with the salon but was not named in the suit, applied a hair relaxer, then washed and styled Hoff's hair.

Hoff testified that clumps of her hair came loose that night, and her resulting bald spots and brittle hair made her depressed and reclusive. Her daughter testified about Hoff's emotions, as did a psychiatrist and counselor.

Hoff's attorney, Paul Devine, said she was so distressed she retired early from teaching at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and stopped working as a tour guide for trips to Italy.

Defense attorney Lawrence Hartstein said Hudson didn't test Hoff's hair before applying the product, but that the stylist could judge who needed one based on her 30 years of experience.

Jurors found the stylist negligent. They did not describe how they arrived at the $6,000 figure.

Burning Down The House

ELMA, Wash. - Police Chief Greg Adams was planning to fix up a vacant two-story house for his ailing parents. Apparently, no one told the fire department.

Firefighters burned the building to the ground believing it had permission to do so for training purposes.

"We're just totally sick at the whole thing," Adams said. "Seriously, the other night we couldn't sleep when we found out about it. It's just devastating."

The chief and his wife were away for the weekend when the volunteer fire department burned the structure as part of a weekend exercise.

"Initially, we had made plans to have a controlled burn and have it brought down to the ground," Adams said. But he said he notified the fire department that his plans had changed.

Fire Chief Dave Osgood said he was not told of any change.

"He knew we were going to burn the house down," Osgood said. "He knew it was coming. I don't see what the problem is. It's down on the ground, and the lot is ready for a new house."

Naked Bus Thief Detained

CHESTER, West Virginia - Charges of indecent exposure are the least of Mohammed Jwad Salem's problems. Authorities in Chester, West Virginia, accuse Salem of being the streaker who stole a shuttle bus. Police say Salem was naked when he ran around a parking lot at the Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort.

He allegedly took a bus and drove about a mile before getting stuck in a muddy field. Deputies busted Salem and took him to a place where he could get something to wear - the Hancock County Jail. Salem now faces a number of charges including indecent exposure, grand larceny and resisting arrest.

Lawmakers Oppose 'Real Beverly Hillbillies'

BATON ROUGE, La. - State Sen. Mike Smith's resolution urging CBS to forget about making "The Real Beverly Hillbillies" was approved 23-1 Wednesday by the state Senate.

Smith, D-Winnfield, has joined critics of the proposed program around the country, saying it will hold the rural poor up to ridicule.

"The Real Beverly Hillbillies" purportedly would chronicle the experiences of a rural, lower-middle-class family that moves into a luxurious Beverly Hills mansion.

Smith's resolution still needs passage by the House.

Meanwhile, CBS says the program is still in the development stages and may never air.

1840 Poe Letter Scares Up $20,000

MILWAUKEE - An 1840 letter by Edgar Allan Poe that was found in a Milwaukee church's safe has been auctioned off for $20,000.

The rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, the Reverend Amy Richter, says she's thrilled at the discovery and its benefit to the church.

An official at Christie's auction house says the American author's letter was purchased by a New York firm that deals in rare books.

The church volunteer who discovered Poe's letter last year estimates that St. Paul's will get more than $18,000 after paying a commission and other fees to Christie's.

The church plans to use the money for its music program.

Playboy Sues Over 'Sex Court'

NEW YORK - Judge Judy, it's not.

But Playboy Enterprises is so serious about its "Sex Court" television show, it has gone to real court to get an adult Web site to stop using the name.

In a counter-suit, the Web site has claimed it had the name first and should get a piece of the $8.9 million the show has made.

"I feel if I create something, I should have a right to the name," the founder of the site, Mario Cavalluzzo, told jurors Wednesday at the trademark infringement trial in federal court.

The case was expected to go to the jury later this week.

Cavalluzzo testified that he launched his Web site in May 1998 because "it looked like there was money to be made." He described registering the Sex Court domain name, unaware Playboy was developing a show with the same name.

Playboy debuted "Sex Court" on its cable television channel the same year, billing it as a show "brimming with erotic crimes and misdemeanors." It features a scantily clad judge presiding over sexual disputes between couples.

The lawsuit brought by Playboy in 2000 alleges the Web site has tarnished its name by giving consumers the false impression it was "sponsored or endorsed by or originates from Playboy."

U.S. Department Of Peace Proposed

WASHINGTON - There's a Department of Defense, so why not a Department of Peace? That's the thinking of some anti-war Democrats. Four dozen Democrats have introduced a bill to create a Cabinet-level Department of Peace. California Congresswoman Barbara Lee says there's no department in the government that looks at alternatives to war. But the sponsors know they have tough fight to get their Peace Department bill passed. Lee says it's more of a symbolic gesture.

Police Dogs, Yes, Mail Dogs, No

ASPEN, Colorado - There are police dogs, fire dogs and Army dogs — but there won't be any mail dogs. Mailman Terry Trish has been ordered to leave his canine partner at home. Trish's golden retriever Sydney has been pulling a letter cart through the streets of downtown Aspen, Colorado. Trish says Sydney is a hit with people on his mail route. Postal customers give the canine letter carrier doggie treats and tourists want to take snapshots. But the Postal Service says having a mail dog violates safety regulations. One post office official notes that dogs bit 3,000 postal carriers last year.