Boxing His Ears

The Spike was thrilled to run into none other than former heavyweight champion (and convicted rapist) Iron Mike Tyson last week at, of all places, the Circle K on Seventh Avenue and Bethany Home Road.

The Spike was in need of a pack of smokes (hey, it was 10:30 at night) and immediately spotted Tyson through the window. Hard to miss a guy with a gold tooth and a tattoo covering most of his face. He was wearing a flowing white jacket.

"How'd you know I was in here?" Tyson cooed as The Spike approached, towing a sleepy 7-year-old who The Spike had convinced needed an autograph of the infamous boxer. Ever the resourceful journalist, The Spike produced a reporter's notebook where Tyson graciously scrawled his signature. Although illegible, he did get the date right.

Happily, The Spike wandered off to find the Marlboros without thinking to ask Iron Mike what the heck he was doing in a central Phoenix convenience store besides browsing the selection of corn nuts. Perhaps he's relocated to the Southwest after recently selling his 48,000-square-foot Connecticut home to rapper 50 Cent for $4 million, something to do with a bankruptcy.

Not that Tyson has been keeping a low profile of late. He was recently spotted at a Lakers game, holding a sign that said: "Free Kobe."

Later, a Circle K clerk told The Spike that Tyson occasionally comes into the store, although usually really late, "like three in the morning."

Tyson's been to Phoenix to train for fights before (and, shocker, was involved in some kind of scuffle outside Hi-Liters strip club last year, although no charges were filed).

And this time the corn nuts he was eyeing may be part of his regimen. He's reportedly signed on for an upcoming K1 bout in Tokyo where he'll likely take on a 500-pound, 6'8" former sumo wrestler named Akebono. K1 is a combination of boxing, kickboxing, karate, tae kwon do, karate and kung fu which is violent enough to be illegal most places. (No word on whether ear biting is permitted.) And again, when it comes to Mike Tyson, there's no surprise there.

Law and Disorder

And speaking of people who know their way around a courtroom, The Spike was happy to see that Governor Janet Napolitano was able to turn her recent call to jury duty into a huge photo op that landed her all over the evening news. Or maybe, what with needing money for Child Protective Services and prisons, the gov just didn't want to fork out the $50 for ducking jury duty that Presiding Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Colin Campbell has taken to fining jury scofflaws -- this in another media side show aimed at warning us citizens to quit pretending our jury summons must have gotten mixed in with all those holiday catalogues, credit card offers and other junk mail and, whoops, somehow wound up in the recycle barrel.

The Spike, who would never, ever throw away a jury summons, oh, no, no, can't really blame those who do, given the ridiculous amount of petty bickering that seems to be clogging up our court system these days. The Spike has been keeping an eye on jury verdicts for the past few months and on more than one occasion has had to shake its pointy little head at the things people will do for money. (Note to plaintiffs: Get over yourselves.)

Consider the following classic examples of a big fat waste of time:

A 53-year-old housewife who volunteers as an animal rescuer sees some geese on the road in a local housing development. She tries to entice the waterfowl to a nearby manmade lake. At which time, she alleges, she is set upon by another woman, this the 51-year-old driver of an 18-wheel tractor-trailer rig. Yikes.

The truck driver apparently doesn't like her feeding the geese, and tells her so. The Spike doesn't blame the trucker. Those geese leave quite a mess of geese crap once they settle into a neighborhood.

A fight, of sorts, ensues. The housewife sticks a four-pound can of bird seed in the truck driver's face. The trucker pushes it away and breaks it. The housewife slaps the truck driver, who locks herself in her van and calls police. (So much for that stereotype!)

The housewife, who actually filed the lawsuit over this little dustup, claims she not only was injured in the incident but that it also aggravated her migraines. She wanted $25,000.

These people stewed over this for nearly four years before the case even made it to trial. The trial lasted three days. It took the jury 35 minutes to toss the case.

A couple weeks ago, another jury rightly recognized that shit happens, and not just the kind deposited by geese. This involving a "slip-and-fall," the kind of claim that keeps plaintiffs' attorneys in groceries. In this case, someone slipped and fell on an ice cube at a local grocery store -- six seconds after the offending cube had fallen out of a customer's bag of ice. The jury recognized that even the speediest of box boys couldn't have mopped it up in time. Two-day trial, 30 minutes to reach the verdict.

The Spike's favorite case, however, involves a guy who managed to aspirate a metal beer can pull tab into his right lung. The fact that the guy was vacationing at Rocky Point at the time is possibly a clue in the mystery of how one sucks a beer can pull tab into one's lung, especially since pull tabs are ancient technology.

This happened in 1990. The guy went to a doctor in Rocky Point who found nothing and then to his own doctor in Phoenix a week later. That doctor concluded the guy must have really swallowed the pull tab, then "passed" it since an x-ray and other tests showed nada.

Six years later, the guy comes down with pneumonia and finally goes to a pulmonary specialist. Still, it is another three years, marked by continual respiratory infections, before anyone does a scan that shows (wow!) there is the pull tab, still stuck in his lung. The guy sues all the doctors -- with the usual claims of lost income, emotional and psychological trauma, yada, yada, yada -- arguing that the medical experts should have found the pull tab that had been there by now for most of the past decade.

You can imagine the specialists and experts who raked in big fees testifying in this case. Doctors against doctors is always an expensive proposition.

The family physician who initially x-rayed the guy's lungs contended an x-ray was enough to show there was nothing in the lung. The guy brought in a doctor who pointed out that pull tabs were made of aluminum and aluminum doesn't show up on x-rays. Who knew?

All the docs who treated the guy argued that the guy's lung problems, including pneumonia, more probably stemmed from the fact that he continued to smoke three packs a day despite his years-long history of lung problems.

So, 14 years after the pull tab entered the plaintiff's right mainstream bronchus, a jury sat through 10 days of expert testimony and legal finger-pointing. It took them two hours to, in essence, throw the case out.

It's enough to make you switch to margaritas.

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Susy Buchanan and Patti Epler