Portly Passenger Says Airline Forced Her to Pay for 2 Seats


We’ve all been there, herded together like cattle on a packed plane. Problem is, some people are more easily packed than others.

A Los Angeles woman is suing Southwest Airlines for discrimination, claiming that airline employees insisted that she was so fat she had to buy tickets for two seats.

Cynthia Luther insists in her Los Angeles Superior Court suit that she had no problem flying on Southwest from Burbank to Reno in December. But she says she was thoroughly humiliated by airline staffers as she boarded the return flight the day after Christmas.


Luther, who acknowledges in the suit that she “weighs more than the average woman,” charges that she was not allowed to get on the plane and instead was ordered back to the waiting area.

“Minutes later,” the suit says, an airline employee told Luther “that in order to board her flight, she would have to purchase a second ticket.” The employee, who was not identified, expressed concern that Luther not “inconvenience the other passenger seated next to her,” the suit states.

A “lengthy and humiliating discussion in front of other persons” ensued. In the end, Luther’s traveling companion purchased the second ticket. A Southwest spokeswoman declined comment on the suit, but said it’s the airline’s policy that “oversized customers” purchase extra seats “for their comfort and safety.”

If a flight is full, the portly passenger can request a refund. Fat chance!


SORE LOSER? A West Hollywood man is suing oldies radio station K-EARTH 101 for fraud, claiming that he deserved to win a scavenger hunt contest the station held two years ago.

Karl Larsen, acting as his own lawyer, alleges in his Los Angeles Superior Court suit that the station damaged him by “not paying me the $101,000 prize that I deserved.”

Larsen demands a jury trial. He alleges that “either the person they claimed as the winner didn’t receive the prize or was in fact associated with K-EARTH or CBS,” in violation of the rules. The court papers don’t identify the prize winner, but you can rest assured that it wasn’t Larsen, who is asking the court to award him the $101,000 plus interest and unspecified damages.


Station promotions director Diane Morales said somebody else who found two items more than Larsen won the prize. The winner was not affiliated with the station or corporate parent CBS, she said.


ENQUIRING MINDS: It had been quiet on the tabloid front lately, but the actress who plays the stepmom on UPN’s “Moesha” is changing all that.

Sheryl Lee Ralph-Maurice is suing the National Enquirer for $1 million in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that the supermarket gossip sheet libeled her in a March 28 article headlined: “ ‘Moesha’ TV Mom Splits With Hubby.”

The suit acknowledges that Ralph-Maurice is going through a divorce from her husband of nine years, Eric Maurice. She was trying to do it amicably and out of the limelight, but the tabloid’s story, with “its numerous false and despicable statements,” made that impossible, the suit says.

According to the suit, the article states that the actress, who is 43, became obsessed with youth after a breast cancer scare. The tabloid also reported--allegedly falsely--that the actress dumped her husband so she could chase after younger men; complained to producers that she didn’t want to be portrayed as “an old hag”; copied the hairstyle of her young co-star, Brandy; and wears brightly hued leather dresses so tight that “she looks like she’s literally been poured into them.”

Ralph-Maurice’s suit seeks damages for libel and invasion of privacy. The Enquirer stands by its story. Said a spokesman: “The divorce, like Mrs. Ralph’s choice of attire, is a matter of public record.”



HOW GOTH! True, the Internet is crawling with bloodsuckers, but this is ridiculous. Transylvania Imports, which markets something called Vampire wine, has filed a federal trademark suit against Sensenet Inc., a company that sells domain names.

“Vampire” trademark owner Michael Machat’s suit, filed in Los Angeles, claims that Sensenet’s registration of a “” site violates federal copyright law. Machat offered Sensenet $500 for the name, the suit says, but the company turned him down, saying it had a better offer--for $12,500.

Transylvania markets its products as having “the taste of immortality” and is asking the court to enforce its trademark. We haven’t had the pleasure, but we assume that Vampire wine is a full-bodied red. And, while we’ve heard of cyber-squatting, could this be the first case of cyber-sucking?


CLUELESS, CANCELED AND SUED: When a show tanks, the marketing opportunities tank with it. So it was with the short-lived sitcom “Clueless,” based on the successful movie.

A Paterson, N.J., outfit called Sel-Leb Marketing Inc. (get it?) has filed a $540,000 breach of contract suit against Paramount Pictures, claiming that the studio and its marketing subsidiary pursued negotiations for a “Clueless” cosmetics line in 1997, even though execs knew the television show already had been canceled.

“Had Sel-Leb known the truth, it would have exercised its right to terminate the license agreement, would have demanded a return of advance monies and would not have continued to expend monies on products,” says the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.


Making matters worse, the suit claims, in 1999 a Paramount exec bad-mouthed Sel-Leb to another studio client, Sony, slamming the marketing firm as “completely unreliable and incompetent” and as producing an “inferior product.” A spokesman at Paramount couldn’t be reached.