See, also, LAWmazing and Unbelievable Sentences.
"A bus carrying five passengers was hit by a car in St. Louis, but by the time police arrived on the scene, fourteen pedestrians had boarded the bus and had begun to complain of whiplash injuries and back pain." Anon.
Let's Hope They're Kooks
Luis Sanchez has filed a claim in Hawaii's US District Court seeking to halt the construction of a particle accelerator in Geneva alleging that it would ignite a black hole and might swallow the entire earth into it. The 27km-long device, called LHC, short for Large Hadron Collider, runs across the France/Switzerland border and is set to start operations in late 2008. The claim is against the US Department of Energy and others alleging that:
"The LHC will very possibly produce 2 kinds of particles which are extremely dangerous for the safety of this planet, as they have been proven both theoretically to be able to swallow in a chain reaction the entire mass of planet Earth.
"A cosmological bomb billions of times more powerful than the A-Bomb ... might possibly be created .... Black holes are, unlike normal Atomic Bombs, self-reproductive bombs; that is, substances, which actively attract and transform our normal matter and whose strength is such that once they become stable they cannot be controlled or destroyed by human beings, who are millions of times lighter [less dense] than those substances. It is thus extremely dangerous to produce any quantities of Dark Matter [strange matter or black holes] of any form on Earth."
Thomas Bentley of New Jersey is suing his former law school, St. Thomas University Law School of Miami, for having admitted him to law school (he was later one of 40 students expelled for insufficient grades). The Florida law school's attrition rate is in keeping with the national average.
Presumably, Bentley initially asked the university to admit him but that didn't stop his lawyer Michael Lombardi from saying, with a straight face:
"They're not supposed to accept students who don't have a reasonable prospect of completing law school."
Subpoena George Bush
On November 30, 2004, Gail Davidson swore a private Information in Vancouver, British Columbia accusing George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, of torture. She then sought to have the President arrested and brought to British Columbia to answer her complaint. But when the Court pressed the issue, she admitted that she was "not asking ... for process to issue". The Court realized that she was trying to use the justice system for "political" purposes.
Wrote Justice Satanove in Davidson v Attorney General in 2005 BCSC 1765:
"Pursuant to its inherent jurisdiction ... this court may stay or dismiss a proceeding where the process of the court is employed for some ulterior or improper purpose or in an improper way. I am dismissing the applicant’s Petition as an abuse of process."
Me v Me
An inmate filed a $5 million lawsuit against himself (he claimed that he violated his own civil rights by getting arrested) -- then asked the state to pay because he has no income in jail.
"I want to pay myself $5 million dollars, but ask the state to pay it on my behalf since I can't work and am a ward of the state."
The judge was not impressed by his ingenuity, and dismissed the suit as frivolous. (Source: CALA)
But You're More Stupider
A convicted bank robber on parole robbed a California Savings and Loan Branch. The bank robber placed the money roll containing the hidden Security Pac in his front pants pocket. The Security Pac released tear gas and red dye resulting in second and third degree burns requiring treatment at a hospital.
The bank robber sued the bank, the Security Pac manufacturer, the city the police and the hospital. (Source: ATRA: Candelario v. City of Oakland, No. 628960-3 Cal. App. Dep't Super. Ct. 1987)
A Spade Is A Spade
A writer was sued for $60 million dollars after writing a book about a convicted Orange County serial killer. Although the inmate is on death row, he claimed that he was innocent in all 16 murders, so the characterization of him as a serial killer was false, misleading and "defamed his good name".
In addition, he claimed those falsehoods would cause him to be "shunned by society and unable to find decent employment" once he returned to private life.
The case was thrown out in a record 46 seconds, but only after $30,000 in legal fees were incurred by the writer's publisher. (Source: CALA)
That Damn Dog
A minister and his wife sued a guide-dog school for $160,000 after a blind man learning to use a seeing-eye dog trod on the woman's toes in a shopping mall. Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc., a 13-year old guide-dog school and the only one of its kind in the Southeast, raises and trains seeing-eye dogs at no cost to the visually impaired. The school is located about 35 miles south of Tampa.
The lawsuit was brought by Carolyn Christian and her husband, the Rev. William Christian. Each sought $80,000. The couple filed suit 13 months after Ms Christian's toe was stepped on and reportedly broken by a blind man who was learning to use his new guide dog, Freddy, under the supervision of an instructor. They were practicing at a shopping mall. According to witnesses, Ms Christian made no effort to get out of the blind man's way because she "wanted to see if the dog would walk around me". (Source: ATRA and Houston Chronicle, 95-10-27)
On Second Thought
A woman was treated by a psychiatrist from March to November 1986, became romantically involved with him, and subsequently married him in October of 1989. After more than five years of marriage they divorced in 1995, at which time the woman sued her ex-husband for psychiatric malpractice and negligence claiming that the romantic or sexual relationship between them started before the formal psychiatric treatment ended. She contended that her ex-husband had breached the standard of care as a psychiatrist by becoming romantically involved with her, and sought general, special and punitive damages. (Source: CALA)
A woman in Israel sued a TV station and its weatherman for $1,000 after he predicted a sunny day and it rained. The woman claims the forecast caused her to leave home lightly dressed. As a result, she caught the flu, missed 4 days of work, spent $38 on medication and suffered stress. She won! (Source: CALA)
A Los Angeles attorney sued another attorney who had hung a cardboard tombstone in his office that read, "R.I.P./Jerry Garcia (a few too many parties perhaps?)."
The plaintiff lawyer, a Garcia groupie, alleged this joke caused him "humiliation, mental anguish, and emotional and physical distress" after seeing the sign. He further added that he had suffered injury to his mind and body (specifics were not listed in the suit). (Source: CALA)
A woman was playing golf and hit a shot which ricocheted off railroad tracks that run through the course.
The ball hit her in the nose and she won $40,000 because the golf course had a "free lift" rule (this allows golfers to toss balls which land near the rails to the other side). The woman alleged that because the course allowed a free lift, they were, in effect, acknowledging the rails to be a hazard. (Source: CALA)
How dare you!
A surfer recently sued another surfer for "taking his wave."
The case was ultimately dismissed because they were unable to put a price on pain and suffering endured by watching someone ride the wave that was "intended for you." (Source: CALA)
Gravity? What's Gravity?
A woman went into a Northridge discount department store to buy a blender. She decided to take the bottom box from a stack of four blenders from an upper shelf used to store extra stock.
When she pulled out the bottom box, the rest of the boxes fell. She sued the store for not warning customers from taking stock from the upper shelf and for stacking the boxes so high. She claimed to have sustained carpal tunnel syndrome and neck, shoulder and back pain. (Source: CALA)
Danger! Dumb People; Beware!
A college student in Idaho decided to "moon" someone from his 4th story dorm room window. He lost his balance, fell out of his window, and injured himself in the fall. Now the student expects the University to take the fall; he is suing them for "not warning him of the dangers of living on the 4th floor". (Source: CALA)
Oh! The Humanity!
A jury awarded $178,000 in damages to a woman who sued her former fiance for breaking their seven-week engagement.
XXXXThe breakdown: $93,000 for pain and suffering; $60,000 for loss of income from her legal practice, and $25,000 for psychiatric counseling expenses. (Source: CALA)
A woman driving a car collided with a man who was riding a snowmobile. The man died at the scene. Since his snowmobile had suddenly cut in front of her, police said she was free of blame. She sued the man's widow for the psychological injuries she suffered from watching the man die. (Source: CALA)
Gratitude ... not!
While climbing a mountain, a young man slipped and fell 90 feet and sustained injuries. The mountain rescue unit, which has saved hundreds of lives over the past 30 years, worked with a physician and a paramedic to mount a difficult nighttime helicopter rescue. The rescuers probably saved the man's life...but he turned around and slapped then with a $12 million lawsuit. (Source: AVALA)
A woman dropped some burglar bars on her foot.
She claimed that her neighbor, who was helping her carry the bars, had caused the accident.
The neighbor's insurance company offered to settle the dispute by paying her medical bills, but she refused.
She wanted more and sued for damages, including "pain and suffering."
The jury took only 17 minutes to unanimously decide that the woman was fully responsible for her own injuries. The innocent neighbor had to pay $4,700 in defense costs.
The two are no longer friends. (Source: AVALA)
Where's It Say I Can't Do That?
A bank discovered that millions of dollars deposited in an account were in fact embezzled funds. The bank transferred the funds back to the lawful owner and got sued! The embezzler's alleged accomplice filed a lawsuit against the bank for returning the money, and asked for $20 million in damages. The bank won in court, but only after spending over $20,000 in legal fees. (Source: AVALA)
Perfectly good sense
A man joined a group to learn, among other things, to fly through self-levitation.
Unsatisfied with the results, he claimed psychological and physical damages and sued the group for $9 million. (Source: AVALA)
Maybe I was drunk .... but ....
A drunk driver was speeding, careened passed detour signs and crashed. He sued the engineering firm that designed the road, the contractor, four subcontractors and state highway department property which owned both sides of the road. Five years later, all of the defendants settled for $35,000. The engineering firm was swamped with over $200,000 in legal costs. (Source: ATRA)
Plus, he got sick
A man sued Anheuser-Busch for $10,000 for false advertising. He claimed that he suffered physical and mental injury and emotional distress from the implicit promises in the advertisements. When he drank the beverage, success with women did not come true for him plus, he got sick. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a lower-court decision dismissing the case. (Source: ATRA)
Mr. Waddah Mustapha, a hairstylist from Windsor, native of Lebanon but residing in Ontario at the time of the alleged tort, claimed significant psychological damages after seeing a dead fly floating in his unopened water bottle.
At no time in the litigation was the assault upon the poor little fly's person acknowledged. Indeed, it seems that he drowned anonymously. The SPCA did not intervene. For the purposes of this article, we will refer to the deaf fly as "David".
As for Mustapha:
"In the course of replacing an empty bottle of drinking water with a full one, Mr. Mustapha saw a dead fly (David) and part of another dead fly in the unopened replacement bottle. He became obsessed with the event and its 'revolting implications' for the health of his family, which had been consuming water supplied by Culligan for the previous 15 years. The plaintiff developed a major depressive disorder with associated phobia and anxiety. He sued Culligan for damages."
And so, the perfect storm of an outrageous lawsuit began.
First, the claim tied up the Court of Justice Brockenshire who (!) awarded Mustapha over $300K in damages, clearly breaking open Canada's reputation as a safe haven for these types of claims ... and for flies.
The decision was appealed where, in a presumably hermetically-sealed Courtroom, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the claim. Mustapha then took his case to Ottawa where a full bench of nine Supreme Court judges heard about David. On May 22, 2008, after well over $1-million in lawyer and expert fees, Court time and judge's salary spent, the ruling came down: "the loss suffered by the plaintiff, Mr. Mustapha, was too remote to be reasonably foreseen and that consequently, he cannot recover damages from the defendant" and the pesky ghost of David, then resting on the back of Canadian justice, was finally brushed off.
Live well: Commit a Crime!
Inmates at a county jail sued for cruel and unusual living conditions: bunk beds, cells lacking a sink and toilet, and no way to exercise in the winter.
These criminals were awarded $2 million dollars, paid by the taxpayers of Massachusetts.
Each inmate who was a party to the suit got $10 tax-free, for each day he was jailed. Their award included damages plus 12% interest from the time the case was settled until the time they collected their windfall. (Source: ATRA)
A San Diego man filed a $5.4 million lawsuit in March against the city of San Diego for the "emotional trauma" he suffered at an Elton John-Billy Joel concert, held at a municipal stadium.
Bob Glaser said he was "extremely upset" at the sight of a woman in front of him using a urinal. In the suit, he claimed his rights to privacy were violated when he tried to use the restroom ''in front of women in the men's bathroom''. The women used the men's facilities because of long lines outside their restrooms. (Source: ATRA and SAALA)
A New York appeals court rejected a woman's lawsuit against the company that makes the device called "The Clapper", which activates selected appliances on the sound of a clap.
She claimed she hurt her hands because she had to clap too hard in order to turn her appliances on: "I couldn't peel potatoes (when my hands hurt). I never ate so many baked potatoes in my life. I was in pain." However, the judge said she had merely failed to adjust the sensitivity controls. (Source: ATRA and SAALA)
John Carter, a New Jersey man sued McDonald's for injuries he sustained in an auto accident with one of their customers.
He claimed that the customer who hit him did so after spilling the contents of his chocolate shake (which he purchased from McDonald's) onto his lap while reaching over for his fries.
He alleged that McDonald's sold their customer food knowing he would consume it while driving and without announcing or affixing a warning to the effect "don't eat and drive."
The court concluded that McDonald's had no duty to warn customers of obvious things which they should expect to know, but refused McDonald's request for attorney's fees stating that the plaintiff's attorney was "creative, imaginative and he shouldn't be penalized for that."
This case was in the court system for three years, underwent appellate court review and cost McDonald's over $10,000. (Source: ATRA and SAALA)
Ron Goldman was on his way home from his restaurant job on June 12, 1994, when he stopped at the home of Nicole Simpson to return a pair of glasses she had left there.
Attorney Nick O'Malley has recently filed a worker's compensation claim on behalf of the O. J. Simpson murder victim, using an obscure legal principle that allows private citizens to take legal action on behalf of the state.
Because Goldman had no fund for injured workers; O'Malley could keep up to 15 percent of the money.
Goldman's father, dismissed the claim as a "scam," while the family's attorney, called it "one of the most despicable things I've seen." (Source: CNN News)
Top 10 List
In August of 1995, Florida's then-Attorney General Bob Butterworth released a "Top 10" list of his Department of Corrections inmate litigation:
- Prisoner claims discrimination because he was not given a Department of Corrections raincoat like other inmates.
- Prisoner sues to be served fresh rather than reconstituted milk.
- Prisoner sues for right to conduct martial arts sparring and full-contact fighting as part of his religion.
- Prisoner sues over being served three cheese sandwiches a day for one week while in disciplinary confinement.
- Prisoner sues because he was required to eat off of a paper plate.
- Prisoner who has filed more than 140 actions in state and federal court sues over finding gristle in his turkey leg.
- Prisoner sues to be served fruit juice at meals and three pancakes instead of two.
- Prisoner who murdered five people sues after lightning knocks out the prison's TV satellite dish and he must watch network programs which he says contain violence, profanity and other objectionable material.
- Prisoner sues to be given Reeboks, Adidas, Pony or Avia brand hightops rather than inferior brand sneakers issued by prison.
- Prisoner who lost a lawsuit claiming his rights as a Muslim were violated because the prison put "essence of swine" in his food announces his conversion to satanism and sues for tarot cards and doves' blood.
- Re Oh Canada!, see the trial decision at canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2005/2005canlii11990/2005canlii11990.html; the first appeal decision at canlii.org/en/on/onca/doc/2006/2006canlii41807/2006canlii41807.html, and the Supreme Court of Canada decision at scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2008/2008scc27/2008scc27.html.
- Several have been compiled by the Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) is a non-profit, grass roots organization of Southern Californians dedicated to putting an end to lawsuit abuse. Others are made available by the Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse (AVALA), the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) or San Antonians Against Lawsuit Abuse (SAALA).
- The source for the story re Thomas Bentley is "Law School Sued for Expelling Students", Leigh Jones, National Law Journal, 09-01-2006.
- Lawsuit abuse is no laughing matter in the USA with one report stating that: "Lawsuit abuse has taken a heavy toll on American consumers and businesses -- as much as $152 billion in 1994." Another study found cases take about 2½ to 3 years to be resolved, and even longer in appealed cases. and 50-70 cents of every jury-awarded dollar goes to lawyers and legal costs. California, Ohio and Maryland have declared a Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week. A lawsuit brought in the highest trial court or in federal court could easily run between $50,000 and $500,000 to defend.
- Some words of wisdom offered by Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse: "Talk before you fight. Don't "sue thy neighbor.' Try mediation or arbitration to resolve disputes. Conflicts are inevitable in our society, but lawsuits should be the last resort. Encourage personal responsibility in our community. Too often, people look for an outside culprit to blame when something bad happens to them, even if they are personally negligent."