December 18, 1997
Vickie Dugan wasn't too successful as a college softball coach -- in fact, her team went 0-24 in Dugan's final season. But Dugan knows how to win where it really counts -- in the courtroom.
A jury has awarded the former Oregon State University softball coach $1,090,000, after Dugan claimed the losing record wasn't her fault. Dugan successfully convinced the all-woman jury she was the victim of gender discrimination.
Dugan accused the state school of paying her too little money and spending too little on the softball team she coached. Dugan, whose in-conference record during her six years as a coach was 9-112, said she was paid less than her male coaching counterparts.
The all-female jury awarded Dugan $13,498 for the claim regarding inequality of pay, and almost 80 times that amount for other damages. The jury was not swayed by the fact that the two committees that decided to fire Dugan were composed mostly of women.
We're sure that a softball team is an absolutely vital part of every college education. But we kinda wonder how many books taxpayers of Oregon could have provided for the university with the money that will now go to make Vickie Dugan the state's most successful unsuccessful sports coach.
THE RATWith American juries so anxious to award victims so generously, it's no surprise that some dirty rats would be tempted to "cook up" some claims.
Michael F. Zanakis told McDonald's he found a rat's tail in his two-year-old son's Happy Meal. Zanakis was going to tell the world about this trauma if McDonald's didn't pay him five million dollars. He threatened to call a press conference and have his infant son hold the rat's tail for photographers.
In fact, Zanakis took a rat's tail from the medical research laboratory where he worked, fried it, and then put it in a package of fries he bought at a Mac's on Long Island.
Zanakis, an associate professor at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, probably would have been able to pull off the scam, but he got greedy.
First of all, Zanakis had experience on his side. He has previously gotten Coca-Cola to pay him $4,600 when he claimed he found "bits of greasy particles" when he drank a can of Coke in 1993. What with the dramatic escalation in jury awards to victims, Zanakis must have figured he sold out way too low, so he invented a much more dramatic scheme and went for the big bucks. Referring to the McDonald's case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leonard Lato said, "(Zanakis) asked for too much money, that was the bottom line."
Proving that crime and science really do mix, Zanakis, a medical researcher, was convicted of extortion on Monday. The jury found him guilty both in his unsuccessful attempt to have McDonald's pay up and in his successful fraud against Coke.
Zanakis plans to appeal the extortion verdicts. He might want to contact Vickie Dugan for a little help with the legal fees.
READ MORE ABOUT IT
Read more about the coach with the perfect batting record at the National Center For Public Policy Research site.
Quote of the Day!
"The crude commercialism of America...its indifference to the poetical side of things, and its lack of imagination...are entirely due to that country having adopted for its national hero a man who, according to his own confession, was incapable of telling a lie."
-- Oscar Wilde, "The Decay of Lying," 1889. (The reference is to George Washington.)