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''Seinfeld'' lawsuits

In light of a case where a man was fired for discussing the show with a coworker, EW imagines other possible suits springing from the sitcom

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A classic for the law books: On July 15, a Milwaukee jury ruled in favor of a former Miller Brewing executive who claimed he was unfairly fired for ”misjudgment” after he discussed with a female coworker the Seinfeld ”her name rhymes with a female body part” episode. The jury’s eye-popping award: $26.6 million. ”It’s like taking the watercooler effect to the nth degree,” says former Seinfeld producer Larry Charles about the stranger-than-fiction suit. ”Actually, it’s a great plot for an episode.” As a favor to the Seinfeld team, EW has consulted a panel of legal experts about the validity of other lawsuits that could spin off from the sitcom.

EPISODE

”The Phone Message,” wherein Jerry is dumped by a woman because he makes fun of her for liking the commercials for Levi’s Dockers.

POSSIBLE SUIT

A Dockers ad exec is fired after the spots get a public kick in the pants on the sitcom. He files suit against Levi’s and Seinfeld.

LEGAL OPINION

”Last I heard, being dissed by Jerry Seinfeld was not a constitutionally protected guarantee,” says the Honorable Judy Sheindlin, star of the syndicated series Judge Judy. ”Jerry and Levi’s are home free on this one.”


EPISODE

”The Soup Nazi,” in which the crew is traumatized by a fascistically strict soup vendor.

POSSIBLE SUIT

Al Yeganeh, the notoriously prickly New York City soup chef on whom the character is based, sues for slander.

LEGAL OPINION

”He can sue, but what damage does he have?” asks trial lawyer and Court TV anchor Rikki Klieman. ”My guess is that his business wasn’t hurt. It probably quadrupled.”


EPISODE

”The Contest,” in which the gang try to see how long they can abstain from sexual self-gratification.

POSSIBLE SUIT

A misguided viewer stages his own version of the contest. After he develops, uh, health complications, he sues the show for damages.

LEGAL OPINION

”The purpose of this show was not to advise people that regular masturbation is a good thing,” says CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack. ”Masturbationus prohibitus would not work as grounds for a lawsuit.”

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