Case of ‘Banana Lady’ has little appeal for judge
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter April 14, 2014 2:01PM
Catherine Conrad, Banana Lady
Updated: May 16, 2014 6:18AM
She calls herself the “Banana Lady” and she performs in a giant banana costume.
For a fee, Catherine Conrad and her monkey puppet will sing and dance “The Banana Shake.”
Then — all too often — she’ll sue.
Clients who’ve hired the Wisconsin woman to perform her wacky singing telegrams have been sued for everything from sending a postcard with a picture of her in her yellow costume to videotaping her as she does her banana dance. She’s filed at least eight federal copyright violation lawsuits since 2009.
But now Banana Lady perhaps has finally met her match in U.S. Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner.
In a scathing, photo-illustrated eight-page opinion published by the Seventh Circuit Appeal Court on Monday, the noted jurist called Banana Lady’s lawsuit against several credit unions who hired her an “abuse of the legal process” that was “without merit.”
Banana Lady claimed that the credit unions failed to warn an audience in advance not to film her act or to post any videos for anything other than their “personal use.” Though the warning was given after her performance, some audience members posted photos on Facebook.
But Posner wrote that he and Judges Michael Steven Kanne and John Daniel Tinder were “surprised to discover” that banana costumes are “a common consumer product” and that there is therefore “a doubt about the validity of that copyright.”
Banana Lady also failed to write down the steps to her banana dance and has a history of making wild claims in her court filings, including comparing her legal opponents to the Unabomber and alleging that they hung out at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., Posner noted. She once even sued a group who videotaped her performance but declined to post the video on its website after she demanded a $40,000 license fee, he wrote.
Posner recommended Banana Lady be banned from filing any more suits until she settles legal debts of at least $78,000 incurred in previous frivolous cases.
Her website says she also can be hired as a motivational speaker.