In a free and democratic society, the legal system is an invaluable backbone which ensures that every individual receives equal rights, protections, and treatment. Unfortunately, it is also a place where a lot of people go to insane lengths to try and make a quick, not-so honest buck at someone else’s expense.
Every day, countless hucksters, weirdos, and, shall we say… others enter legal offices around the world to break ground on new levels of insanity and stupidity. Here are 42 examples of some ridiculous lawsuit cases, as told by the people who had front row seats to watch them all go down—their lawyers.
42. Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones But Frivolous Lawsuits Will Never Hurt Me
Someone came in because their neighbor had done some gardening along the boundary between their front lawns. The client wanted to know whether she could sue the neighbour for trespassing for the pebbles that had come onto the client’s side, and theft for the soil that had gone onto the neighbor’s side.
41. Climbing a Wall and Making Other People Pay For It
I did some work experience at a law firm and a case popped up about a couple who were walking on a wall and fell off, they wanted to the sue the person who owned the wall.
40. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
I used to work in flood defense and one of our projects a while back was a simple moving of a dyke tool in a farmer’s field a few metres. So it’s all done and fine by our judgement and we get along with things. However it turns out the contractors didn’t quite bury the tip of a drainage/outfall pipe which was actually a little way down the bank, not even on the crest (which was a footpath).
A guy was walking down there (we suspect pissed) and tripped over it. The legal case is still ongoing and yes, he tracked down the owner of the field (and the offending pipe), the builders that put it in, THEN our consultancy who designed the modifications. Then wanted to sue us. However, being quite high profile, our company was wondering whether it was just easier to pay this guy to shut the hell up because he might become too mouthy, or fight it because it’s ridiculous.
The more ridiculous thing is that we technically have liability for that ~2cm of pipe sticking out of the bank that’s not designed for walking on if you follow the paper trail like that guy did. Jesus.
39. Grocery Stores Can Get Wild
Some lady threatened to sue for head injuries at the grocery store I work at. What happened was a coworker was carrying out a stack of fiber containers that people use to get food from our salad bar and hot bar. A lady ran into the stack of containers because she didn’t look where she was going. Got embarrassed. Called my coworker an idiot. Ran to the front desk to whine and threaten to sue, then ran back to my coworker to call her stupid again. She did not sue and is no longer allowed in the store.
38. And That’s Why You Should Always Use Your Indoor Voice
I met with this guy who wanted to sue a library because they had banned him… for one day. Apparently, he was being disruptive and the administrator told him that he was banned for one day.
Fortunately, I was able to convince him what a monumentally stupid idea this was.
37. Now That’s What I Call an Ingrate
I was out at a restaurant with some of my friends. There was a guy sitting behind us who went into cardiac arrest. I was still a trainee EMT so I decided to give him CPR. I kept his heart pumping for three minutes before the ambulance arrived. He lived. Three weeks later I received a lawsuit complaining that I had broke one of the man’s ribs.
I saved his life and he was suing me because I did minor damage.
36. Which Came First—The Forgiveness or the Apology?
A dumbfounding number of medical malpractice plaintiffs say they wouldn’t have sued if the doctor would have just apologized or acted sympathetic in telling them what went wrong. The catch-22 is that admitting fault is bad news for a lawsuit. Still, there are a number of lectures out there that advocate for being kind to avoid being sued.
35. I Think This Guy Has Bigger Problems to Worry About Than His Lawsuits…
I am not sure if this really counts as stupid, but I had a prospective client who wanted sue for infringement of his patents on PVC piping. He wanted “$20 quadrillion dollars four times over.” He also had a computer chip implanted in his brain by the FBI. I sent him to the local hospital that specialized in implanted computer chips.
34. Now This One’s Just Cheesy…
My dad is a lawyer, and he had one person come in that wanted to sue McDonald’s because she got her cheeseburger upside down in the bag at McDonald’s instead of right side up….
33. Small Claims, Big Idiots
Sitting in small claims court one day I observed the following Pro Se bench trial. The plaintiff was suing an adult film store for the cost of one DVD. He alleged the DVD was defective and would not play past a certain point. The store’s defense was twofold:
1. No refunds policy was clearly stated on the receipt.
2. The plaintiff was lying and was unable to describe at what scene the DVD stopped working and refused their offer of an exchange.
The judge looked as though she was going to reach over and strangle the plaintiff at the end. She ruled for the defense. Had the store hired an attorney I think she would have awarded costs to them.
32. Maybe You Can Take It With You When You Go
When I was 19 years old, I was sued by a 50 something-year old redneck for $10,000 because I “caused him to lose the will to live.” Apparently 10K was the magic number to talk him out of suicide.
31. You Saved a Child? You’re Going to Hell!
When I was working for a New Jersey judge, we did mostly cases with the Division of Youth and Family Services (negligent custody, adoptions, etc.). This case technically was the government suing for custody, and it wasn’t stupid. The parents never fed, clothed, sent their children to school, or otherwise let them out of the house, in addition to beating them.
At any rate, this case was recurring and involved parents who claimed to belong to the Moorish Nation, a small religious sect.
Their entire legal defense was that they were descended from Moors, and the United States government had no power over them. Not only was the government powerless over the Moors, but by taking the children, we were also committing mass, world-wide genocide. Additionally, we were committing piracy, rape, and various other religious transgressions.
What was most surprising to me was that their brief to the court seemed to have been written by someone with at least some legal training. But it only cited ancient Roman (and other old-world) civil law, multiple treaties between African and European states, a few completely off-point cases from like Wyoming and Ohio traffic court, and a copious amount of “religious law” that I was never able to find at all.
Needless to say, we placed the kids with foster parents—despite a riot in the courtroom, because the entire church showed up. Luckily the brief and parents’ testimony described in comprehensive, vivid detail how I am going to burn in the eternal flames of damnation, so I have something to look forward to.
30. The Only Thing Worse Than A Love Triangle is a Legal Triangle!
I had a crazy older client who was suing his minister for seducing his younger wife and convincing her to dump him. He came in with the wife he abandoned for the younger wife. The guy was absolutely nuts. Some idiot signed him up and filed the suit and I inherited it. I spent hours telling the guy he did not have a case and he finally had to withdraw against his will. It was a bit sticky because the judge was grumpy.
29. The Bringer of Rain
I’m a wedding photographer. Two brides have threatened to sue me because it rained on their wedding day.
28. Anti-Social Media
Not a defense attorney, but I work in a prosecutor’s office. That job can often be just as ridiculous because you get people showing up on a daily basis wanting other people thrown in jail for random things. At least once a week, someone comes in wanting to file a protection (restraining) order on someone else for posting lies about them on Facebook.
27. A Good Way to Kill a Few Hours
A few days ago I spent an hour being screamed at by an elderly person because I told him a neighbor’s tree branch hanging over the property line did not qualify as criminal trespassing.
26. A Perfect Record of Success
In general, people simply do not understand the concept of due process. They will come in with guns blazing, expecting us to arrest and charge someone right now based solely upon their personal testimony. Despite having no physical evidence, no other witnesses to corroborate their story, and often no address where investigators could even find the accused to follow up on the report, 100% of them leave convinced the system is biased against them.
25. This Guy Tried to Push the Envelope a Little Too Far
I got sued once for hitting a guy in my Ram Charger. It was my fault but he tried to play me and lost horribly. He got into the ambulance at the scene, then decided against it and said he was fine. The same cop gave us both a ride home. He proceeds to go to a bar, get drunk and fall off a barstool and hurt his back. NOW he’s hurt enough to go to a hospital.
He sues but neglects to mention this fact to anyone. My lawyer ripped him apart in court and I never had to pay a dime other than what insurance paid for his car. Afterwards my lawyer told me that was the most fun he’s ever had on a case.
24. Look What You Made Me Do!
Someone is currently suing a family member because SHE veered into the left hand lane making a right hand turn, causing this family member to sideswipe them.
No idea how that one is going to turn out, but I can’t wait to find out.
23. Nice Try, Lady!
I almost got scammed 12 years ago. It was the maddest I’ve ever seen a cop. I rear ended a lady in a Toyota 4×4 doing about tenn mph. We were pulling off at a stoplight and she hit her brakes. Her brake lights were obviously less visible to me than the setting sun and I hit her. The only part of my truck to impact her vehicle was a tow hook about three inches long and an inch wide.
The entire left side of her back bumper was pushed in, a tail light broken, and minor body damage. I don’t have pictures but it was very clear that there was no way my impact could have caused all that. She claimed otherwise, and very loudly to the officer that reported to the scene. He was furious. He tells me that I am free to go and I waste no time doing so. As I pulled off he was giving her the drill instructor treatment.
22. Sounds Like a Whole Rigmarole
I was in a six car pile up last March. I was fifth in the line and the guy in front of me hit first going about 50 MPH. He caused all the other cars in front to hit each other. He left the scene in pretty bad shape. I hit my brakes and barely hit his car. My airbags didn’t go off, had it not hit my radiator I would have been able to drive home in my car.
Now he’s trying to sue me for his medical bills (about $50k). What a jerk!
On top of that, the guy second from the front is suing EVERYONE in the accident. I mean everyone. Even the people that were just parked behind him when the guy in front of me hit the parked people into him. They didn’t park far enough back for a 1.5 ton mass going 50 MPH to come to a stop apparently.
21. It’s a Living!
Everyone in the US with car insurance has a maximum the driver can be sued for that insurance will cover/represent. My insurance would cover me for up to $10,000. This is advantageous for people looking to make a little money because insurance companies would rather throw the plaintiff some money and settle than waste time and money to go to court. However, if someone were to sue for more than $10,000, I would have to hire my own attorney and unless the plaintiff had a strong case, he wouldn’t be getting anything at all.
I accidentally rear-ended a guy going less than ten mph (my airbags didn’t deploy). He drove an old clunker truck, so my insurance gave him quite a bit of money for his troubles considering no damage was really done. It wasn’t enough for him. He then tried to file a medical claim, but that didn’t fly: my insurance sponsored attorney found out he was addicted to painkillers so he’d been in “pain” for a while.
At that point, this redneck hit the lowest of the low: when I was a teenager I was served papers stating I was being sued for $10,000 because I caused this man’s emotional state to decline due to stress over the situation. Does that sound frivolous to you? It should! Well, on the morning of the deposition, I met the plaintiff’s attorney. He was actually a pretty nice guy. He sat right next to me and said, “Hey, I’m sorry about this. I’ve gotta put food on the table, you know?” My insurance ended up settling with the guy for about $3,500. I hope his attorney took half.
20. The Only Way Out Sometimes
An apology can really defuse a bad situation—sometimes. I was trying to wedge my mini-van into a spot in the parking garage where it shouldn’t have gone and my bumper scraped along a woman’s fender. I was totally in the wrong. She happened to be watching from a distance, came over, and started giving me grief. I got out of my car, entirely silent, mostly because I was embarrassed for the stupid thing I did. I looked at her fender—it wasn’t really damaged, maybe something that would buff out with a little polish—and finally I said to her:
“I’m really sorry. That was really stupid of me. I’ll make it right for you,” and then I gave her my address, and took her address and phone number. Thing was, as soon as I apologized her tone entirely changed. She went from righteous anger to understanding.
I called her later to apologize again and told her that I hadn’t responded immediately because I’d been in “shock and awe,” which was true. She said that she’d felt the same and that she’d had a bad day because her mom was dying in the hospital. I said I was sorry about that and again, let’s figure out how much I owe you because I was in the wrong and wanted to make it right. She said she’d look into it.
I emailed her a couple days later and she said forget about it, it was cool.
Not everyone is going to be reasonable but this lady was and all it took was for me to admit I was wrong and tell her I was prepared to pay the consequences (in this case, with money).
19. This One is Actually Pretty Tragic
Texas state judge here: a homeowner invited people to his house for Sunday morning after a Saturday night wedding. Sunday morning he’s passed out in bed. Guests arrive and let themselves in. Lady with two-year-old kid sees there isn’t food, so she makes some lunch. Meanwhile, her two-year-old drowns in the pool. She sues homeowner because if he had lunch ready she would have been watching her kid rather than making lunch. Jury gave her zero.
18. My Will is For You to Leave Right Now
Old lady came to the office with two wills in her hands, one from 1979 and one from 1994.
She said her daughter had used her inheritance from the ’94 will and sold it but that for one reason or another she, the daughter, was now broke.
Her question was: Can we use the will from 1979 to claim all her inheritance back?
You don’t need to be a lawyer to answer this one…
17. A Pheasant Surprise
My ex’s mum was a lawyer, one of her clients at the time had a great one. She was riding on the back of her boyfriend’s motorbike when a pheasant came flying at them, the boyfriend ducked which meant that the pheasant hit her right in the face and knocked her off the back of the bike. They broke up about six months later and it was at this point that the woman decided she wanted to sue him for ducking. Pretty ridiculous.
16. Reputation is Everything
Girl was 18 years old, sitting in the parking lot of a restaurant in her little VW Jetta. All of a sudden, some older woman in a freaking Escalade backs into her. Rather than getting out like a normal person, the woman gets out and starts screaming at the girl saying it was her fault and “why didn’t you see me backing up!!!” etc.
So, when the cops come to write up the police report, the woman immediately tells them her story of how she was backing up and “that dumb girl” backed up into her without so much as a glance backward. She made sure to throw in little embellishments like, “I could have been KILLED!” etc. Friend told them that she hadn’t moved and was in park the whole time. That the woman had backed into her.
Well, turns out the woman was a well-known woman who was exceedingly rich and gave an absurd amount of money to the police department every year at their annual fundraiser. So, who did they believe? The irresponsible 18 year-old girl or the woman that almost single-handedly built them a new jail? You guessed it.
Eventually, she had to settle with the woman because of lack of evidence.
15. A Close Race to the Finish Line
It would be a tie between two: A woman wanted to sue because Dr. Pepper bottle caps had cut her fingers twice over a three year period. A man wanted to sue Walgreens because it used pictures of his secretary’s children in its ad without her permission. Not sure he has standing…
14. A Furry Friend
“Do you help people get restraining orders in domestic violence cases?”
“Four or five every month.”
“Do you represent gays, or just straights?”
“I represent anyone who needs me and can afford to pay me.”
“Do you make house calls?”
“Sometimes, if they can’t make it in. Tell me about your situation.”
“Well, my partner attacked me last night, and he undoubtedly would have seriously injured me if my pet wolf hadn’t intervened, and…”
“Hold on a second. There’s a goddamn wolf over there?”
“He’s actually a very nice wolf. It’s only ignorant people who are afraid of him.”
“I don’t do house calls to houses where there are wolves. You’re gonna have to come in to my office.”
13. How Dare You Let Me Hurt Myself Due to My Own Stupid Decisions!!
I worked in a forensic engineering company for a little while. I saw a case where a skateboarder was skitching (holding onto the back of a truck without their consent) and hit a bump in the road. Somehow fell down and the truck ran over him. Terrible injuries, paralyzed from the waist down.
Reading the depositions and seeing the pictures was incredibly sad and gruesome.
Anyways, long story short, the skateboarder sues the city for a ton of money and wins. I don’t remember the specifics, but it was heavy into the seven figures.
12. You’d Think That Would Be Kind of an Important Detail to Mention…
Conveyancing in England (legal stuff concerned with buying and selling property, requirement if you have a mortgage but everyone uses them even when they don’t).
Had a client selling. Got all the way to exchange when we got told there was a tenant who we had never ever been told about.
We had to delay the sale on the property because the buyers had no idea either and we were obligated to tell them. The seller got pissed at us and refused to give us ANY information after that saying we should just get on with it.
We explained we needed the info. She refused. She changed from our company to another and sued us for the delay and because she had to keep paying the mortgage rather than sell the property. She told the ombudsman that we were refusing to progress the matter and she was 100% helpful and gave us everything we requested within seconds.
We explained our side with evidence of consistent letter writing etc and got told that it was our fault because we didn’t request information about the tenant daily (we did it 2-3 times a week but not daily, she changed within two weeks) and because we didn’t specifically ask her about the tenant BEFORE she instructed us to even act.
It was baffling. We ended up paying her fees back plus 300%. She gave us negative reviews saying the next company sold the house within four days. We looked it up and she still owns the property…
People are outrageous.
11. Those Evil Uncles Are Like That
I’m not a lawyer, but my evil uncle once sued his wife’s friend because, while him, his wife, and son were at her house, they failed to watch their kid and he fell in the pool and nearly drowned. The lady pulled him him out, gave him CPR and saved his life. My jerk uncle sued her. He also tried suing my relatives and my parents for not giving him money. He sells bar soap too.
He’s very weird.
10. It’s About Time Someone Takes Up This Cause
Throwaway for obvious reasons.
I work for a judge and we get some truly ridiculous cases. The most ridiculous was this guy who alleged an international UN based plot against rednecks (that was the word that he used) in America, and how they had some super secret high tech army to eliminate rednecks.
He was in prison and was requesting a presidential pardon, a boatload of money, a church and tax-free status, recognition as a sovereign nation, etc. He was suing the government, and the continent of Asia (yeah, the whole continent) and the United Nations, etc. He also, as proof, said that he sent letters to Britney Spears and she never answered, which proves a big conspiracy against rednecks somehow. All of this was in a 30 page document, completely illegible in his terrible handwriting.
9. A Royally Important Matter
Not me, but my childhood best friend. She did law school in England and practices there now. Her first day volunteering at the legal aid clinic at her school, a bedraggled guy with long hair and a beard halfway down his chest came in. Said he’d just returned from ten years in a Thai prison for drugs, and he wanted her to help him sue the Queen for not rescuing him.
8. The Rules Are There For a Reason, Folks
When I was about 13 or 14, I was really into skating and used to have to get the bus to the nearest town to go to their skate-park. Well, I wasn’t too fond of this because (a) it was an hour each way and (b) it was a crappy town and some of the more… unsavory types used to come down sometimes and start on us. So, we decided what we needed was a skatepark in our own town.
So, my friends and I got together and started a charity with the help of a few local adults and (eventually) the Council. After a couple of years, we’d raised about £60,000 and our skatepark was built. Despite nearly being 30, this still sits as one of my proudest achievements (I was in charge of finances despite my age, and was pretty damn good at it).
There were a few requirements to suit the insurers and RosPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), such as gating it off and having lots of signs that have warnings, and to ban anyone under ten from using the park.
Despite these signs, the inevitable happened and a kid aged eight went onto it (with his parents blessing and presence) and walked right in front of another skater, and was knocked over with a broken wrist.
So the parents sued. Oh dear! Never mind, we pointed out that the signs clearly stated an age limit, and the parents should have known better than to let him run around on a skate park when he was two years under the age limit. However, you’ll never guess what their solicitor’s argument was…..
Apparently, us putting the signs up with the warning showed we knew there was a problem, and we didn’t do anything about it.
Screw those parents for blaming everyone else for their failed parenting. Screw their solicitor for trying to destroy a much-loved skate park for a quick quid.
7. Stumbled Into a Mess
Around seven or eight years ago a woman fell together with her balcony onto my mother’s car. This woman was around around 55 years old so she ended up with lots of broken bones and some pretty nasty bruises. Considering that my mom’s car pretty much saved her life (she would have fallen from a greater height and onto rough concrete hadn’t it been there) she decided it was a good idea to sue us. It’s important to note here that:
a) It was her fault that she fell as she decided that wasting her money on safety checks was of no use. Therefore, no insurance money.
b) Our car insurance sued her for some of the damage she caused (we paid most of it).
Ms. Thick-as-a-Brick decides to sue my mother for parking her car there. She claimed that she would have been better off if it weren’t there (which by any logic was complete rubbish). Well guess what happened—she lost the case. As a result, she now had to pay both for the damage she caused, a fraction of her medical bill (she had medical insurance) and the lawyer fees for both herself and my mother.
This is the point where she exhibits excellent cognitive skills and logic: she decides to move without informing the authorities. My mom notices the moving-crew and decides to follow her to her new address. She writes down the address and eventually provides our insurance with it since the woman stopped responding to her mail. All of this got her in more trouble than she already was. To top it all off, the investigation caused by the latter eventually led to the police finding out she and her husband were connected to a human trafficking network.
6. A for Effort
Former client wanted to sue an employer for not providing him with a letter of recommendation. Demanded compensation for the accumulated lost wages from all the jobs the client didn’t get (which he certainly would have got with said letter of recommendation) for the six years following the termination of the employment in question.
Hats off to him for thinking outside the box—the box of sanity…
5. The Grocery Store Was Clearly At Fault Here…
My lawyer husband had a woman come in to his office with this gem: she wanted to sue a large grocery chain because her baby’s fingers had gotten hurt in one of their carts. How so? Well, all she did was put her baby in the cart. You know, down underneath the cart on that shelf where the babies go? Babies fingers were dangling down and the mom ran over its fingers, several times.
4. There is No Legal Precedent for This Level of Ridiculous
I used to work for the Attorney General in my home jurisdiction. A guy who’d had his children taken away for some really horrible abuse (he was crazy and had really insane religious beliefs) tried to get his kids back by claiming they were his intellectual property. He sent notices that he’d copyrighted the kids, and demands for their return.
Then he got the idea that his name and all his kids’ names were trademarks, so every time he received a court document that referenced any of their names, he sent us an invoice for trillions of dollars for each use of his “trademarks.”
I guess this doesn’t really fit the bill since the dude wasn’t coming to me to sue someone, but it was still pretty remarkable.
3. A Neverending Case of Nepotism
Two years ago I was struck head on in an intersection by a woman driving an SUV (I was driving my dad’s Civic). She was speeding and had gone through a red light. My car was totaled, while hers looked like her bumper needed to be replaced. When the police showed up they told me that she was obviously at fault and not to worry.
A few days later I get a call from my insurance company saying that I was at fault… turns out the lady that hit me was the police chief’s wife. It took a year to fight the case in court, which I eventually won due to the huge amounts of evidence against her. But it gets better…
Two months ago I get a call from my insurance company saying that they were going to close the case. Huge relief that that chapter of my life was over. The NEXT day I get a call saying that the case was reopened and I was being sued because the lady had suffered injuries in the crash… a crash that I was ultimately found not at fault for…
2. Just a Little Clowning Around
I did a pro bono case for a street clown who wanted to sue another street clown for stealing his routine. You can’t copyright a routine because it isn’t stored in a medium. I told him that but he insisted we try to break some new legal ground.
1. Well, I Guess He Walked Right Into That One…
My lawyer dad had a person come in and he couldn’t walk because of some “injury” at work. At the time, my dad was skeptical so he hired a psychologist to do an examination on him, and she found out that something COULD be wrong, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
Jump to next week, my dad ends up with a video in his hands of the person WALKING down their driveway to take out the trash. Busted. So my dad called them and told them “Hey come on in, we have a breakthrough in your case, and you can get some money for your injury.”
So the guy comes to his office, and he leaves him sitting in the lobby for almost an hour because my dad knows this guy is a scumbag just trying to get money over nothing (which makes lawyers look bad). So then my dad calls him into the meeting room, and plays the video.
The guy walked out.