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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie

The Queen of service workers Leona Helsmley, recently died, was laid to rest not long ago. Last week her will was read and not surprisingly, many of Mrs. Helmsley's survivors were stiffed (if you'll pardon the expression). There was, however, one glorious exception: Mrs. Helmsley's little dog Trouble who will soon be richer to the tune of $12 million thanks to a bequest from her late owner. Mrs. Helmsley, nobody's fool, may have had good reason to bestow upon her beloved poochie such a handsome sum. There may be a legal battle ahead to determine Trouble's final resting place.

In her will, Mrs. Helmsley directed upon Trouble's death the dog's remains be interred alongside the late Mr. and Mrs. Helmsley's. But there's trouble ahead: apparently most cemeteries have strict policies against the burial of animals in grounds intended for humans. The outfit that runs the cemetery where the late Harry and Leona reside have that policy and recently stated they have no intention violating it by entertaining the late Mrs. Helmsley's request. Mrs. Helmsley may be dead but her litigious spirit lives on; there will certainly be a lawsuit against the cemetery to force it to inter Trouble in the Helmsley tomb. I imagine most legal experts wouldn't give the lawsuit much chance of succeeding but I think it may have a fighting chance if plaintiffs invoke the old equitable doctrine of laches, sleeping on your rights. Plaintiff's counsel could correctly insist cemetery management's permitting its policy to be violated in the past nullifies any future attempts at its enforcement. How so, you might ask? By permitting Mrs. Helmsley to be buried on the cemetery grounds without protest, management surrenders its right to prohibit the bitch to be buried alongside her.

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