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North Pole Buried Under Blizzard of Lawsuits

North Pole (DPI) - As Christmas Eve draws nearer, Santa Claus has found himself busier than ever. This year it is due not to toy production or reindeer training, however, but rather to litigation and labor issues. Claus is facing several individual and class-action lawsuits and job actions, making it nearly impossible for him to focus on his upcoming worldwide trip.

Members of Toy Workers Local 240, the North Pole's largest elf union, have walked off the job, leaving unfinished toy cars backed up like rush hour in Los Angeles. Union leader Simon Smidgle has demanded better working conditions and a more even distribution of work. "We're laid off 10 months of the year, then around mid-October we're expected to come back to this God-forsaken arctic wasteland and toil away 24-seven under sweat-shop conditions," complained Simon. "The medical plan consists of access to one lousy dentist named Hermey, and every time we demand overtime pay, Santa gives us that crap about 'the look in a child's face is all the pay we need.' To heck with that. I've got gambling debts to pay off!"

Fellow elf Freddie Frickle concurred. "These curly-toed shoes and tassled hats are a hazard to work in," he said. "I'll get OSHA up here and old Claus won't be so jolly." Elves of Keebler's union, Cookie Makers Local 517, support their diminutive brethren in the work stoppage.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, meanwhile, has filed a lawsuit accusing Claus of cruelty to reindeer, forcing them to be tied together with straps and endangering their lives with rooftop landings. "We've put Santa at the top of OUR Naughty List," said PETA spokesperson Gloria Frauman. And lead reindeer Rudolph has filed a petition with the Commissioner of Reindeer Games complaining of lack of access to the games under the Animals with Disabilities Act.

Claus said he's never seen such a litigious holiday. "Sure, each year we have to deal with a flood of 'breaking and entering' charges, but this stuff is frivolous," he said. "One elf was awarded over $1 million for spilling hot cocoa in his lap. My liability insurance is so high, I can hardly even afford the coal for the bad kids. And don't get me started on all the 'drunk and disorderly' charges I have to deal with from these mall Santas."

With a string of court dates longer than an Alaskan night, it's likely that the milk and cookies will spoil before Santa Claus gets around to your house this year. "I'm thinking of chucking it all and moving South," admitted Claus. "I hear Antarctica is nice this time of year."

(Reported by Buddy Fisher)

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