45 Facts About Frivolous Lawsuits

Rachel Seigel

“Frivolous Lawsuits are booming in this county. The U.S. has more costs of litigation per person than any other industrialized nation in the world, and it is crippling our economy”. -Jack Kingston

Some people will do anything to make a buck, including suing both individuals and corporations for ridiculous reasons. These lawsuits rarely make it through the courts, but they are definitely good for a laugh. Below are 45 funny facts about frivolous lawsuits.

45. Half-an-inch short

New Jersey resident Jason Leslie was a loyal Subway customer, and estimated that he’d eaten 50 Subway Footlong sandwiches every year for 14 years. In 2013, he sued the chain for $142 million, claiming that the “Footlong” sandwiches were half an inch short. He arrived at the number by calculating the 5% unfair and deceptive revenue that came from the misleading name. He received $1000 dollars.

44. Skinny on the Milk

In 2016, Starbucks faced a slew of lawsuits from customers who claimed that the chain was filling their lattes 25% less than the advertised size. According to the complaint, the underfilling was an effort by the chain to save on the cost of milk, which is one of the most expensive ingredients. Amazingly, a federal judge allowed the case to proceed.

43. What Did You Think Would Be In It?

That same year, a customer from Chicago sued Starbucks for putting too much ice in their ice drinks. The judge dismissed the case as ridiculous, saying that “even a kid knows better”.

42. Batman City vs the Caped Crusader

The mayor of a small city in Southeastern Turkey named Batman sued Christopher Nolan and Warner Brothers for not getting permission to use the name “Batman” in the Dark Knight films. He also placed blame for the city’s high female suicide rates and unsolved murders solely on the films.

41. His Fantasies Didn’t Come True

In 1991, Richard Overton sued Anheuser-Busch for false advertising. He complained that ads showing beautiful women and tropical settings were misleading, as they implied that his fantasies could come true. He sought damages for emotional distress and for physical and mental injury. Not surprisingly all his claims were dismissed.

40. Me v Myself & I

A man serving a 23-year sentence for grand larceny and breaking and entering sued himself for civil rights violations. He claimed that he had violated his civil rights and religious beliefs by allowing himself to get drunk and commit the crimes which landed him in jail. He wrongly believed that since he was in jail and couldn’t pay and the State would cough up the five-million. He was wrong and the case was thrown out.

39. A Horrifying Experience

Usually, when a person goes into a haunted house, they do so expecting to be scared. Not Cleanthi Peters though! In 2000, she sued Universal Studios for $15,000 because the Halloween Horror Nights Haunted House was too scary.

38. Instructed by the Devil

Construction Worker Thomas Passmore was working a jobsite in Virginia when he thought he saw the numbers 666 on his hand. Believing the numbers represented the devil, he grabbed a power saw and cut off his hand. He and the hand were quickly rushed to the hospital, where he refused surgery to reattach it. He later sued the hospital and the surgeon, claiming that they should have known that he was psychotic and reattached it anyway.

37. A Case of Mistaken Identity

A man sued Michael Jordan and Nike for $832 million dollars, complaining that he was frequently mistaken for Jordan. The suit claimed that he was frequently harassed by the public, which caused him emotional pain and suffering. The man later withdrew his suit and never collected a dime from either party.

36. Wake Up!

A 15-year-old boy sued his teacher for slamming her palm on his desk to wake him up in class. He claimed that the noise from the slam caused him ear-damage.

35. Shoo!

The owner of a swanky antique shop on Madison Avenue in Manhattan sued homeless people for congregating in front of his shop. He asked for 1 million dollars, alleging that their presence was scaring off the customers.

Frivolous Lawsuits FactsShutterstock

34. Who Gave You the Right?

Minnesota resident Christopher Roller sued magicians David Copperfield and David Blaine for not having God’s permission to use his power while performing their acts. He also claimed to be a god, that the movie The Truman Show was based on his life, and that he was married to both Katie Couric and Celine Dion. Having a grip on reality was about the only thing he didn’t claim.

33. So Much for Being Neighborly

One night, two teenage girls with good intentions decided to bake cookies for their neighbors. They wrapped the treats in plastic wrap with a heart-shaped message wishing the recipients good night. Things didn’t go as planned with their neighbor Wanda Renea Young. She became so terrified that someone was outside her door that she suffered an anxiety attack. She successfully sued the girls for the cost of her emergency room visit, but her request for additional money for pain and suffering was denied.

32. Passes the time

Between 2006 and the present, South Carolina inmate Jonathan Lee Riches has filed more than 1000 frivolous lawsuits while in jail. His most remarkable suit was one from 2006 where he sued 57 pages of defendants for unnamed civil-rights violations. Among the defendants were President George W. Bush, Pope Benedict XVI, Bill Gates, Queen Elizabeth, the Gambino crime family, Three Mile Island, Burt Reynolds, Google, the Salvation Army, the Wu-Tang Clan, the Magna Carta, “tsunami victims,” the Kremlin, Nostradamus, the Lincoln Memorial, Nordic gods, Pizza Hut, the European Union, the Methodist Church, Viagra, “ninja samurai fighters” and the planet Pluto.

31. Insufficient Warning

Two Ohio-based carpet layers filed suit against the adhesive manufacturer Para-Chem because they felt the warning label on the back of the can was insufficient warning of possible safety risks. The pair were severely burned when a can of carpet adhesive ignited when the water heater next to it kicked on. Apparently, words like “flammable” and “keep away from heat” didn’t prepare them for the fact that it was explosive.

30. It’s all the Car’s Fault

In 1992, a 23-year-old woman backed her car into Galveston Bay after a night of drinking. She was unable to undo her seatbelt and drowned. Her parents sued Honda for making a seatbelt that their drunken daughter couldn’t open underwater. The jury found Honda 75% responsible and awarded them $65 million dollars, but an appeals court threw it out.

29. No Oreo’s for Kids

A San Francisco man sued Kraft Foods in 2003 for putting trans-fat in their Oreo cookies. He wanted the court to order Kraft to stop selling the popular cookies to children. When the media got a hold of the lawsuit, the attention became too much and he decided to drop the suit.

28. Missed the Warning Sign

Jessie Ingram, owner of a bar in Illinois had recently set a trap around his windows to deter burglars when Larry Harris broke in. He was under the influence of both alcohol and drugs, and didn’t notice the warning sign that was prominently displayed in the window. He set off the trap as he entered and electrocuted himself. His family sued Ingram and was awarded $150,000. The sum was reduced to $75,000 when it was decided that Harris should share half the blame.

27. A Confusing Tiger

In 1998, Kellog sued Exxon because they thought that customers might confuse Exxon’s whimsical tiger mascot with their Tony the Tiger logo. Exxon had been using the logo for 30 years prior to the lawsuit, which begs the question- why did they wait so long?

26. A Breast Injury

Florida physical therapist Paul Shimkonis sued his local gentleman’s bar in 1996, claiming mental and physical harm from the lap dancer’s breasts, which he said, “felt like cement blocks”. He sought $50,000 for his ‘injuries’ but was denied.

25. Busted!

Participating in a cross-country bike race is a brave thing to do. So is suing your employer for firing you because you took a sick day to do it. He probably should have just asked for the time off.

24. Oops- Wrong Weapon

When a suspect became uncontrollable in the back of her police car, Nancy Moreiga, a California Police Officer reached for the taser in her belt, but accidentally drew her gun and shot him in the chest. The man’s family launched a wrongful-death suit against the city, and then the city then sued the taser company, claiming that any reasonable officer could mistakenly shoot their gun instead of their taser.

23. Damage from Flying Metal

A 52-year-old traffic officer from Los Angeles sued Victoria’s Secret for causing damage to her eye with their underwear. She alleged that the tight fit of the thong she was trying on caused a metal clip to fly off and hit her in the eye. I guess she doesn’t want another size?

22. Poor Deer Management

Two PETA members were on their way home from a protest when they accidentally hit a deer that had run onto the highway. They informed the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife that they intended to sue for damages and injuries, stating that they were responsible for damages due to their “deer management” program.

21. Inaccurate Weather Forecast

An Israeli woman successfully sued a weather station for failing to accurately predict rain. She claimed that she’d dressed lightly for the expected good weather, and as a result caught the flu, and missed a week of work. She was awarded $1000.

20. It’s the School’s Fault!

In 2009, Bronx native Trina Thompson sued her college for $72,000 when she was unable to find a job three months after graduating. She blamed the school’s office of Career Advancement for not trying hard enough to find her a job, and wanted to recoup her entire tuition, plus an extra $2000 for the stress of her job search.

19. Ouch!

Two teens from Lancaster, PA were severely burned when they illegally entered an Amtrak-owned property and climbed on top of a boxcar. An uninsulated wire suspended above the train charged one of the boys, causing severe burns over 75% of his body. His friend also received burns when he ran to help his friend whose clothes were on fire. A jury found that the trespassers were not responsible for their injuries, and blamed Amtrak for failing to post warning signs of the danger posed by electrical wires.

18. No Reward for Stupidity

A 20-year-old woman meeting friends at a sports grill in Bluffton, S.C. was served alcohol even though she was under age. She drove away from the restaurant while intoxicated, and lost control of her car. Not wearing a seatbelt, she was thrown from the vehicle, and sustained injuries that caused her to become a paraplegic. She sued the sports grill for negligence for selling her the drinks without first confirming her age, and then for making sure she wasn’t drunk. She also sued the South Carolina Department of Transportation, claiming that a defect in the shoulder of the road caused her to flip her car.

17. Did Somebody Lose a Finger?

In 2005, a woman claimed to have found a finger in her Wendy’s chili. She filed suit against the company, but further investigation revealed that she had planted the finger herself. She ended up dropping the suit because it “caused her great emotional distress”.

16. Tripping on a Grassy Hole

A small town in Missouri went bankrupt after spending $100,000 to settle a lawsuit. Plaintiff Sally Stewart required ankle surgery after tripping on a grassy hole, and blamed the city for the accident. Since Reed Springs had no health insurance, half of their annual budget went towards settling the suit.

15. No give-backs

In March 2014, a runaway teen sued her parents for child support and college costs. She claimed that her parents threw her out of the house just before her 18th birthday, but her parents insisted that she left on her own because she didn’t want to follow household rules. When she was denied a claim for assistance, she immediately moved back into her parents’ house and dropped the suit.

14. Don’t Put This Guy on Hold

British Resident Richard Herman sent a company an invoice for 195 British pounds- 10 pounds for every minute he was kept on hold waiting to tell them to stop calling him. They claimed they had no record of his number, so he took them to small claims court and won. He was compensated the sum of his invoice plus his court fee.

13. Lost His Pants

A man filed a civil case over a dispute with a dry cleaner over lost pants. He sued for $40 million-dollars for inconvenience, mental anguish, and for failing to live up to their ‘satisfaction guaranteed’ sign. He lost the case after four years of trying every legal means possible to win.

12. Assault with a Deadly…Sneaker?

In January 2014, a 26-year-old pimp from Portland sued Nike for $60 million dollars, partially blaming them for a brutal beating that landed him in jail. He was wearing a pair of Nike’s when he stomped the face of a man who was trying to leave a hotel without paying for his prostitute. He felt that Nike should have put a warning label in his Nike Air Jordans warning that they could be used as a deadly weapon.

11. Wot m8?

A New York resident sued Foster’s beer for allegedly being deceptive in their ads. All of their ads apparently featured kangaroos and Australian flags, which led him to believe that the beer was brewed in Australia (It’s actually brewed in Texas). He says he’ll resume drinking the beer when they properly label their cans and stop falsely advertising that they’re Australian.

10. Food Fight

Unilever (the Parent company of Hellman’s Mayo) sued Hampton Creek for misleading advertising in calling their plant-based product “Just Mayo”. They complained that their product lacks the main ingredient found in mayo (eggs) and calling it that was stealing market share that belonged to Hellman’s. Hampton CEO made light of the suit stating, “Maybe we’ll see big cookie and big pasta lawsuits against us next.”

9. One Letter Makes All the Difference

In 2014, an American dentist planned a trip to Granada, Spain. He had quite the surprise when he ended up on a flight to the Caribbean Island Grenada instead. The airline refused to reimburse him for his and his partner’s tickets, and he sued for $35,000 in damages for pain and suffering caused by the mix up.

8. He’s Not Lovin’ Them!

There are many good reasons to complain about McDonalds, but not being given an extra napkin usually isn’t one of them. Webster Lucas alleged that when he asked for an extra napkin, the General Manager mumbled something racially discriminating. The incident supposedly left him unable to work because of undue mental anguish, and he priced his suffering at $1.5 million.

7. Turn Left Onto the Highway

Google Maps has famously given people some unusual directions, and most users know not to put complete trust in its reliability. Lauren Rosenberg apparently missed the memo, and followed the walking directions down a major highway. When she got hit by a car, she sued Google for Leading her there. So much for common sense!

6. Just a Wee Little Problem

In 1995, while attending a Billy Joel Concert, Robert Glazer received a shock when he went to the bathroom to relive himself. He didn’t realize the bathrooms were unisex, and was startled to see a woman using a urinal. He circled the stadium looking for a Men’s Room, and ended up holding it for four hours. He sued the stadium for emotional distress and embarrassment, but lost.

5. Sued from the Grave

The RIAA accused a woman of making over 700 songs available to illegally download over the internet, and sent her a warning letter. This would have been fine, except the woman being accused was dead, and according to her daughter, hated computers anyway. Despite being sent the woman’s death certificate, they decided to sue her anyway. As the accused was unable to defend herself, an RIAA spokesperson said they would “try” to dismiss the case.

4. Put a Cease and Desist on God

A Nebraska State Senator sued God for bringing about natural disasters. He wanted the court to issue a cease and desist order on his harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats. God could not be reached for comment.

3. The Man Fits the Name

In 1997, Viacom (MTV’s parent company) was sued by a man who legally changed his name to Jack Ass, because the Jackass TV show defamed the character he’d created. His character was campaigning against the dangers of alcohol, and used the slogan “Don’t be a dumb ass, be a smart ass”.

2. Swimming with the Whales

27-year-old Daniel Dukes had always dreamt of swimming with whales, and in 1999, he hatched a plan that would make that dream come true. He went to SeaWorld, hid from security guards after closing one night, and then managed to jump into the tank containing a killer whale. The whale killed Dukes, and his parents sued Sea World for not posting warnings that a ‘killer’ whale could kill people.

1. Judgement is for the Dog

A woman who was bitten on the butt by a police dog lost because she attempted to sue the dog.  The judge dismissed the case and fined the woman for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

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