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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bizarre tales from small claims court

By Paul Dunn, The Daily Reflector

Monday, July 04, 2005

Just when you think you've heard it all, there's this:

About three years ago, a Greenville 20-something woman filed suit in Pitt County District Small Claims Court against her employer – a used car wholesale dealer. Seems she drove vehicles to various automobile auctions in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia and spent a good part of her waking hours on the road.

She claimed that all that driving – and sitting – was an occupational hazard because it had caused her butt to grow three times larger. Pitt County Magistrate James Cowan Jr. ruled against her, saying her rear end had ballooned because she snacked and ate fast food while she drove.

Producers from the popular Judge Judy court television show contacted Cowan about the case because they wanted to air the dispute on national TV. The woman agreed, but her employer would have none of it.

Cowan told me the story recently in a voice that offered little hint of amusement – a testament, I thought, to his 18 straight-faced years on the District Court bench.

"I've never busted out laughing, and I try to keep my composure," the 56-year-old Farmville resident said. "It's hard to do sometimes, and even though it's funny, it's serious to these people."


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