Old Bridge, NJ – Comedian Wins as ‘Jewish Mother-in-Lawsuit’ Is Dismissed

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    Old Bridge, NJ – A standup comedian who was sued for making mother-in-law jokes has had the last laugh after a federal judge threw the case out of court.

    Sunda Croonquist, whose shtick for years has been to describe her life as a half-black, half-Swedish woman who marries into a Jewish family, was sued two years ago after her mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law said her jokes were holding them up to public ridicule.

    In a 21-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper of New Jersey concluded that the examples they cited — including one in which Croonquist says her sister’s voice sounds like a cat in heat — fell under the category of protected speech.

    Many of the jokes, Cooper said, were clearly statements of opinion and not fact and therefore protected by the First Amendment. The cat-in-heat joke, the judge said, quoting from a previous court decision, was “colorful, figurative rhetoric that reasonable minds would not take to be factual.”

    The suit was filed in New Jersey because two of the plaintiffs, Croonquist’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Neil and Shelley Edelman, live there. Croonquist lives in Beverly Hills and her mother-in-law, Ruth Zafrin, lives in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

    Adding another family twist to the case was the fact Croonquist’s husband, Mark Zafrin, is a partner in the law firm that successfully represented her.

    “He’s excited that I won, but he’s not happy about the legal fees that his firm had to incur,” she said.

    Croonquist, who is appearing at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood on Saturday night, said her audience should expect to hear more in-law jokes.

    “In honor of Henny Youngman, why would I stop?” she asked, citing the legendary comedian whose signature line was “Take my wife — please.”

    Neither Zafrin nor her attorney, Lawrence Wertheim of Old Bridge, N.J., responded to requests for comment. A telephone listing for the Edelmans could not be located.

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    20 COMMENTS

    1. How was this suit allowed to go on for two years? Why was it not immediately dismissed as frivolous, and the plaintiff’s lawyer hit with sanctions?

        • Because there’s no cause of action. There is no right not to be made fun of. There’s this thing called the first amendment; maybe you’ve heard of it?

      • Walk a mile in their shoes: If someone made you into a joke, over and over again, and wouldn’t stop, and kept on going…would you think it is frivolous???

          • Oh, let’s think really hard…Harrassment…Libel….Defamation…Interfering with one’s quality or enjoyment of life…

            Bottom line is, you hurt someone (even emotionally) – you might need to pay for it. Al pi torah – you pay boshes and you pay for name calling.

            This isn’t something obscure. Surprised you didn’t know!

    2. Sunda Croonquist probably needed the jokes to retain her sanity and the greatest legal opinions agreed that she was protected by the Constitution to laugh at her relative’s foibles. While no one likes to be publically ridiculed, we could all stand to loosen up a bit and LEARN TO LAUGH AT OURSELVES. Life is too short to fight and, like they say, laughter is the best medicine!

    3. I thought that this mother in law was just helping them out. By bringing this matter into the spotlight, she just gained publicity. I never heard of this comedian before, and I am sure many others did not but this issue was a bit funny and I am certain that tons of people decided to check it out just for curiosity.

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