Let’s face it: It can be tough to be a lawyer and make a convincing argument for the judge and jury. But with clients like these, that job is even harder. From outrageously bitter divorces to incredibly stupid reasons to sue, these attorneys had to go through a lot just to try to win at court. Strap in, because these case files are totally ridiculous.
1. A Shady Past
I used to work at a firm that did a lot of maritime personal injury work. One guy was hurt offshore with a legitimate injury, but the drilling company won't settle, so it goes to trial. The guy is from some small rural town in East Texas, and the trial is set there. During one of his video depositions, our client shows up in a T-shirt that has a silhouette of a woman dangling from a pole.
At the bottom, there is text that says, “I support single mothers.” Perfect, just what we need for a video deposition. Later, we go to trial, and right as it's about to start, the client goes, "I was hoping we didn't get this judge." My co-lawyer thinks that is strange and asks him why he hoped that. When the man responded, I was chilled to the bone.
Apparently, our client offed the judge's nephew during a break and enter years ago. It was a huge case in this little small town, and it was something the client neglected to mention at any point prior to this. Perfect. Great thing to know as trial is beginning. Somehow or other, we won the case. I'm honestly still not sure how.
2. Message Received
I remember a guy called me and wanted to take action against the Post Office. He had received a letter from them saying that they would no longer deliver packages to him, as he was never “appropriately” dressed when he opened the door to accept them. I remember being nervous about asking him to elaborate…so I didn’t.
3. I Rest My Case
I had a case where a man refused to pay rent because his apartment smelled terrible and it was making him sick. So, his landlord tried to evict him. A few days after I took on the case and just before his first hearing, the ceiling in the tenant's bathroom just totally collapsed on him when he came home one day. It revealed a disgusting truth.
Turns out, some plumbing wasn't connected and his ceiling had been filling with poop for months. The landlord settled pretty quickly after that.
4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
My friend is a big-shot lawyer downtown, and works on high-profile cases. He once told us about this ridiculous case involving a nurse. This nurse was hired to give flu vaccines to patients at a local string of assisted living homes. Now, Hepatitis C was very common back in the baby boomer days, from lack of knowledge and a lack of effective protection. So a bunch of these guys had it.
Well, this nurse decided it would be a good idea to reuse the needle they had on EVERY SINGLE patient. She ended up giving Hepatitis C to a bunch of seniors. It was so bad that they had to contact the CDC and consider it an outbreak. The best part was that the family of the elderly were suing the nurse AND the nursing homes.
Meanwhile, the nursing homes were suing the nurse and the hospital that contracted her out. The NURSE even tried suing the hospital for "lack of training." Also, the nurse had been given warnings before and was previously let go from another job…because she was reusing needles. Absolutely ridiculous circus show all the way around, honestly.
5. That’s Karma For You
I had a guy come in who spoke almost exclusively in quotes from US Presidents. This was a specialist firm in a very English town, and the dude was about as English as it's possible to be—tweed suit with leather elbow patches English. He wasn't initially anything to do with me, but half an hour into the initial meeting, my boss wandered into my office totally exasperated.
She said, “Hey, you're a patient man, find out what this loon actually wants. It'll be a good case evaluation for you to handle by yourself." So I spent two hours listening to him talk. Literally every second sentence began with "As Woodrow Wilson once said..." Or "As Grover Cleveland once said...". He even managed to quote Taft.
Anyway, after two hours I explained how much the meeting was costing him—quite a tidy sum at that point. That’s how I learned why he was really there. He visibly sagged and suddenly blurted out like a naughty child, "I poured bleach on the roots of my neighbor's tree, and it fell into my greenhouse. Can you make him pay for the repairs?"
I gently explained why that wouldn't work, and he cried, so I called the loveliest secretary in the firm, who made him a cup of tea and sat with him until he went home. Sorry, buddy, and good riddance.
6. Latte And Order
My family friend is a lawyer. She had someone come to her asking to sue Starbucks because someone spilled their latte on the sidewalk and she slipped on it and hit her head. She claimed Starbucks was at fault because it wouldn't have happened if "Starbucks didn't put extra slippery whipped cream in the drink." My friend did not take the case.
7. A Universal Language
I dealt with a guy once who wanted me to take on his road traffic accident claim. He had written a poem, in Yoruba, about the accident. He refused to tell me anything about his case until he's read the whole thing, in Yoruba. Among other problems, I can't speak any freaking Yoruba. As in, not one word. As in, that day was the first time I had ever heard of the Yoruba language.
I'm not even from a part of the world where I might readily be mistaken for someone who speaks Yoruba. It's a West African language, and I am really, really obviously not from a West African background. I try to explain this to the guy, who becomes very agitated and insists that he must read out his poem in Yoruba. I give up and tell him to get on with it so we can talk about his claim.
He does. It takes him nearly 20 minutes to finish. Anyway, after he's done, he finishes and sits back with a big smile and says that he's certain I'll take his case on now, as if it's all completely clear. I begin to ask him some questions about his case, but he refuses to answer. He says that this poem (in Yoruba) is everything I need to know about his case.
Basically, I tell him to screw off and stop wasting my time. He does, but not before standing around outside my office for an hour or so, reading out his poem, to no-one in particular, over and over again. In Yoruba.
8. She Said, She Said
I worked on a custody dispute between a mother and grandmother, where both sides were absolutely outraged by the others' claims. The mother was very upset that she was alleged to have been a stripper. In her own incensed words, "I was in the industry, but I NEVER did that!" The grandmother, in return, was furious that she was alleged to have 21 cats in her two-bedroom apartment.
In HER iconic words, "We only have 17 cats! How DARE she flat-out lie and say that we have 21 cats." The child ended up living with the father in a different state.
9. Is It Art?
I defended a vengeful guy who sent poop through the mail to his ex-girlfriend from behind bars. I don't know how it got past the wardens, but it did, and the guy didn't even deny sending the package. However, the case went to trial because he wanted me to argue that the poop was expressive speech, and thus protected by the First Amendment. We lost.
10. Sleight Of Hand
As a public defender, I defended a grown man accused of taking magic cards from Wal-Mart. There was an hour-long security video meticulously showing, from dozens of angles, that he was picking up sets of cards, unwrapping them, and discarding the wrappers around the store. He insisted that he was innocent, and we actually went to a jury trial instead of securing a plea deal. This turned out to be a huge mistake.
It took the jury just eight minutes to convict him, and the judge laid into my client, telling him that he was the worst thief he had ever seen. The best part? At one point in the trial, I had to spend no fewer than 45 minutes explaining to the judge what Magic Cards even are. He couldn't understand why anyone would need more than one deck.
11. The Other Shoe Drops
I worked in a big firm, and we had a potential client who once needed to access something on a high shelf when she was at work. Instead of using the step that was provided, she took it upon herself to take her shoes off, then stand on her chair to reach the shelf. She forgot about her own shoes on the way down and tripped over them. She then tried to blame her employers. That's not how it works, love.
12. A White Lie
I used to work in matrimonial law, which is the worst practice area of them all. You see fairly reasonable, reasonably good people reduced to the worst of themselves in every aspect. They're emotionally distraught, seeking vengeance, have wounded pride, etc. This one guy was an executive at a big company in NYC. He was faithful (supposedly) to his first wife of 40 years, cared for her through sickness, and then her passing.
He had a grown son. He then became addicted to strip clubs—he spent something like $10-20k a month at them—and met a girl there who he eventually impregnated and then married, with pre-nup. She had two kids with him; he reduced his club spending to $50k a year. Apparently, she suspected him of being unfaithful with one of her co-workers, so she filed for divorce.
She claimed he was an unfit parent, and he claimed the same. The guy was not attractive, though he kept himself well-groomed. He was also in his 70s! I don't understand, maybe he was just a dollar sign to the woman. In any case, one day while discussing his pre-nup, we had to ask: "Did you cheat on her?" because that would nullify the pre-nup.
"No,” He says. We respond, “Come on. We need to know all the information before we can proceed." We needle him for an HOUR on this…and then he says, “Well yeah, the one time.” That was it. By the way, his wife wanted to break the pre-nup—which afforded her $7-10k a month for child care needs alone—and make him pay upwards of $25k/month to her. Glad to be out of that practice area.
13. A Very Particular Craving
The client wanted to sue because there were no strawberries in her fruit salad when she bought it from a supermarket. Thankfully, my secretary was able to screen the call. She asked if the package said it had strawberries, and the response was, "No, but I thought it would have." I don't know how these people manage to make it through life.
14. Suffering For His Art
Back when I was doing appeals, I had to argue that the rap lyrics my client wrote while sitting behind bars awaiting extradition to face murder charges were inadmissible for First Amendment reasons. The guy had written a fairly detailed song essentially describing him performing the act he was ultimately convicted of, all while he was waiting to be tried for it.
I don't know what he was thinking. I made a "but this is art!" argument, which was actually kind of cool because I did a lot of interesting research and it's a hot-button topic these days. Regardless, I lost.
15. Sure Bud, I Believe You
I’m a law librarian in a big law school. This was years ago, before the Internet. A man used to call the reference desk all the time with odd questions about currency and laws related to it. He claims he is an author and is writing a book about how aliens are going to come to Earth and take over by manipulating our currency system.
He has all kinds of questions about the money. Shows up in person one day, and looks like something out of central casting: Odd fitting green suit, grey hair that is wild and looks like it has not been combed since Nixon was in power, glasses, and an agitated demeanor. I spent an entire afternoon explaining why there is no information on how to make fake money.
16. Not So Friendly Now
A year out of law school, I once had a potential client who wanted me to sue Canada. Apparently, he could not get into the country due to his court record. I tried to reason with him, saying that it was up to the sovereign nation to set its own rules regarding entry to their country, but he insisted that we could make a lot of money suing Canada.
I didn't take the case, but I told him I might be able to get him a letter that said "Sorry" –from Canada.
17. An Old Grudge
I’m a lawyer in a small town. I mostly do estate planning, probate, old people stuff, etc. I have a client who sued his ex-wife for not selling the house after the divorce as she was supposed to. Judge held her in contempt, and asked what my client wanted to do about it. His revenge was brutal. He had his ex-wife thrown in the slammer. They are both nearly 80 years old.
The client also has something valuable buried on his property for his grandchildren after he passes. I have a sealed letter in my desk that he pays me a goodly sum each month to hold and give to his grandson when he’s gone.
18. Jesus Walks
I had a potential client come in and say that he wanted to sue his uncle for murder. Setting aside the fact that you can't sue someone for "murder," I asked him whom did his uncle murder. He replied "Me." I turned the case down.
19. Who You Gonna Call?
This call came through on a dreary December day as I was sipping coffee and watching the snowfall. The caller ID read that it was the local hospital, and as I picked up, I spoke to a rather frantic young man who informed me he was being held against his will and he needed an attorney to help him. When I asked where he was, he simply said "the fifth floor."
While this may sound innocuous, every hospital has a "fifth floor," where Napoleon roams the halls freely and the residents speak to their imaginary friends who may, or may not, have been an influencing factor in why they decided that clothing was a way for the government to track them and therefore the only solution was to create Poop Pants to throw off the monitoring ability of the CIA.
Long story short, within an hour of the call a friend had dropped off my fee, and I was en route to the Fifth Floor to meet with my new client. I assumed it would be an involuntary committal defense, and after speaking with my client I gauged that, while the man was most definitely in need of mental care, he was not a danger to himself or others.
He had, in my opinion, been forced to agree to being committed by his probation officer, and frankly I wasn't going to let that stand. I got the name of some contacts from his treatment plan who were willing to vouch that he had, until recently, been compliant with his medications, and contacted his social worker who was able to confirm that, yes, since he had ceased taking the medication due to an inability to afford the medications, the county would assist him with it.
A slam dunk. I would get him released, then appear in the court to defend him against the involuntary committal. Within 24 hours of being committed, my client was back at home. A hearing was set a couple of weeks in the future, and I did daily checks to be certain he was compliant with his medication leading up to the hearing...until the one day I didn't.
A call from the local authorities was my tip-off. An older officer, one I was familiar with, called to advise they had responded to a disturbance at my client's home. He apparently had been screaming in an empty room loud enough that the neighbors were concerned and called them. The officer, a friendly sort, gauged the situation and decided my client wasn't a threat, but asked what the situation was.
"The ghost," my client responded, "The ghost won't get out and it won't leave me alone." "Well," said the officer, "I can tell it to leave." So he did. He told the ghost to leave. And then, apparently for fun, the officer told him that it was a "civil matter" if the ghost refused to leave, and therefore an attorney would need to be contacted.
At which point my client dropped my name...which resulted in the officer giving me a heads up. So, I call my client, who is inconsolable at the concept of sharing his home with the ghost. Keep in mind, I've been to this guy's house. This is the first I've heard of a ghost. But there is a competency hearing on the horizon, and this will not play well in front of the judge.
"The officer said it's a civil matter," my client repeated about the 18th time after I told him I was not, in fact, a priest, but was a lawyer and didn't know how to perform an exorcism. "What do you want me to do," I snapped a bit, "Evict it?" There are moments in time when you should keep your mouth shut. This is one of them. Of course, the immediate response was "CAN YOU? THAT'D BE GREAT!"
Well, darn. So, I ended up driving out there with a mock-up Notice to Quit addressed to "Any spirits in possession of the property without any authority under color of law," advising them that their possession was "unlawful in nature" and ordering them to "quit and surrender the premises, or any portion thereof, within fifteen (15) days of the date of this notice."
I had my client direct me to the portion of the premises the Ghost occupied, an empty spare bedroom, and made service by posting the Notice to the door of the room. I then announced that the ghost "HAD BEEN SERVED A VALID NOTICE TO QUIT AND SURRENDER POSSESSION" and went home. A week later, as we're preparing to enter the Court for my client's competency hearing, I ask about the status.
"Oh, it worked great!" my client announced. "He moved out the same night and took all his stuff with him." The ghost apparently had "stuff." Anyhow, I smiled and patted my client on the shoulder as I offered some sage advice. "Well, good," I said, "Now, let's not mention this in front of the judge. He might have a problem with the service and order us to let the ghost back in if he finds out about it."
My client nodded enthusiastically. I kept him out of the mental hospital that day, and take some comfort knowing somewhere today, this crazy guy is still telling people about his great lawyer who got rid of his ethereal roommate for free.
20. Animal Instinct
A woman called saying that she had a product liability suit involving animal crackers she gave to her daughter. I was thinking it was going to be something to do with food poisoning and kept listening. I wish I’d never heard her next words. She explained that when she looked at the crackers, it looked like the monkey was holding its junk.
Well, nope, it was a banana. Still, this woman was mortified and ashamed. She said she told all her co-workers, and they were very shocked and uncomfortable. I wanted to tell her she was nuts and that they were probably freaked out, but I didn’t.
21. Single White Female
Every day was "outrageous” as a lawyer. The very first person I ever spoke to in a lawyer capacity was a woman who wanted to sue her contractor for an unfinished job and emotional distress. First, being upset at an incomplete job isn't emotional distress. Second, upon further questioning, I learned that this contractor had actually completed all the terms of the contract.
This woman eventually admitted she was suing him because he was "rude and always late." I informed her that we would not take this case. Additionally, I warned her that a failure to pay the contract would most likely result in the contractor suing her. She found this idea ludicrous and began to yell at me in my office—first person on my first day—about how she had a right as an American that I act as her lawyer.
So I handle that: We are not helping her in this case. Two days later, I get a call that makes me want to faint. It’s the contractor's attorney, stating that this woman has cited me as her attorney and threatened a hailstorm of suits upon the contractor from me. It took all of five minutes for the other guy to realize what was going on.
Heck, he even made sure to remind me of the steps I should take to protect myself from any related suits this lady might bring upon me. So, about a month or two passes. The woman comes in again, furious because the contractor sued her and was able to get a lien on the property. She said this was my fault because I didn't help her.
I manage to talk her down. She then immediately gets fired up again because "they are trying to scam her into giving them all her documents." Turns out, a trial on the matter was coming up in about a week, and they had requested photographs of allegedly unfinished work, damages, etc. as well as the original contract and payment receipts.
Basically, all typical stuff that’s reasonable to request and that she is obligated to provide. She thought that evidence was supposed to be a "surprise" at trial, and that sharing this information beforehand would hurt her case. NO duh it would hurt her case, because she is a LIAR. Anyways, again. Not her lawyer. I actually make her sign a paper signifying she understands this.
She leaves. Months pass. I'm no longer working at my old job. So the lady finds me at my school. I get a call from the freaking Dean asking me to swing by. Says he just met with a disgruntled client of mine who says I cost her her home, marriage, and children. Apparently, things went downhill fast. She claimed she would do everything in her power to make sure I never did anything again.
Well, the Dean is a nice guy and helped me with my restraining order paperwork.
22. A Real Character
A friend of mine is a magistrate, and a guy appeared before the magistrates after attacking an officer. They first watched a video of the event with the guy shouting all sorts of things at the officers. When the court asked him to answer for what he did, he...started to pretend to speak another language. His solicitor just said, "Please forgive my client, he does speak English, however he is an idiot."
After this blatant lie of trying to speak a foreign language that was actually complete and utter nonsense, he then started to pretend that he was deaf and dumb, and started to mimic what he thought was sign language, pointing at his mouth and shaking his head. His solicitor again: "Please forgive my client, he is not deaf and dumb, he is just stupid."
My friend then said to the defendant, "Please take a seat.” He responds "Yeah, no problem, luv."
23. Tis The Season
During law school, I was a member of a law clinic. We represented low-income individuals. We handled family law issues, but would try to point clients in the right direction if we could not personally help them. One man came in and stated that he wanted to sue Best Buy. This is not uncommon, but why he wanted to sue Best Buy was…different.
See, this man said he purchased a refurbished computer from Best Buy for his daughter as a Christmas present. Best Buy had then neglected to remove the previous owner's password screen and thus, this man and his daughter were unable to access the computer until they took it back to Best Buy, which was understandably closed on Christmas day.
This, he said, caused his 12-year-old daughter to begin to question the very existence of Santa Claus. He and his daughter then argued the rest of the day, until finally, he admitted to her that there was no Santa Claus. His words were, "Seeing your daughter lose faith in Santa ruined all Christmases to come." He also claimed that now his daughter was "a real witch" since she had lost all faith and stopped believing in Santa Claus.
What was even more interesting is the amount of damages he requested. He stated he believed that Best Buy owed him "at least 25 million" because Christmas was ruined, his daughter will never believe in Santa again, and now he has to deal with her being "a real witch." I did not believe he had any type of recourse against Best Buy for inadvertently demolishing his daughter's belief in Santa.
However, even if I did, our clinic could not help him. I informed him that we only handled family law issues, and he should call the local Bar Association's lawyer referral service. He stated the Bar Association already told him they would not take his case. Then he proceeded to ask if I had children. I told him I did not.
He then proceeded to wish that all my future kids have their belief in Santa Claus ruined. He stated he would not help me if that happened. He then told me to "screw off" and left. Thing is, the whole time he was there and I was talking to him, I was wondering how this guy's daughter believed in Santa Claus until age 12.
24. Burn It All Down
As a law student, you have the option of doing a lot of low-level pro bono work. I was at a family court as part of a project to help women get restraining orders against their abusers. To look lawyerly, all of us law students dressed up in suits. As it happens, family court tends to be filled with people representing themselves.
Well, anyone dressed in a suit starts attracting all of the people who don't want to deal with the issues themselves, since "Hey, they look like a lawyer." This one gentleman came up to me and my partner, another law student, asking us if we could help him file a restraining order against his girlfriend. When he told us why, I nearly burst out laughing.
She wrote on her Facebook wall that he had a small you-know-what, which he assured us wasn't true. He also wanted to get a restraining order against a different ex-girlfriend because she took some of his clothes and things when they broke up and he wanted them back. He also wanted to get a restraining order against his brother for beating him up when he was a kid. He was in his 30s.
25. From Love To Hate
I am a personal injury lawyer in the UK. I took a call from a potential client who had fallen down the stairs in her own home. She had tripped over her own cat as she went down. She told me that she wanted to sue her local authority, as the council owned her home and she was not allowed to keep pets as part of her lease agreement.
She claimed that when the house was inspected, no one told her to get rid of the cat. It was therefore the council's fault that she fell down the stairs. We didn't take the case on.
26. This Guy’s Fired Up
I once had a gentleman come to my office wanting to sue his former employer. My office is general civil litigation, and I handle our employment matters. I met with him for about half an hour. He explained that he had been terminated from his employment and believed it to be gender-biased. In my jurisdiction, an employer needs to show a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for discharge.
While this hurdle can be overcome, it's a high one. I asked him if he had ever been disciplined, cited, or written up in the past. I wanted to establish if the employer would be able to say he was an unfit worker. If he had an unblemished record, our job is easier. He said yes, he had been written up. Not only that, he said it had happened 12 times. In two years.
I finished the interview, thanked him for his interest in our business, but told him we would not be able to take the case.
27. Axis Of Evil
My dad was a lawyer in California, and this husband and wife were getting a divorce. Everything went normal, but then the husband requested partial custody. This was fine…except for the fact that they had no children. No, the husband wanted partial custody of the dog. The jurisdiction is that pets are personal property, so this couldn't be arranged in the first place, but my dad had to wonder why the heck this guy wanted partial custody of a pet.
"Does the pet mean that much to you?" He asked. "No, it's that we both like the dog, so she'll have custody and like it, but when I get custody, I'm gonna take it to the vet and have it put down." That’s 101 on what you don't say to your defense lawyer.
28. Little Caesar’s Downfall
When I was in law school, I clerked with a solo practitioner. Our client wanted to go to trial over a charge of impersonating an officer. What happened that led up to this? Well...One night, our client got plastered and ordered a pizza for delivery. Now, I've been there before, and it can be frustrating to wait forever for that glorious, delicious pizza.
So this guy came up with an “ingenious” plan. To speed things up for himself, he called the pizza place back and told them he was an officer, and if they don't hurry it up there would be trouble. However, as it turns out, the guy who answered the phone at the pizza joint was a volunteer firefighter, and asked for our client's name because he knew all the officers in that town.
When our client gave him his real name (not smart), and inevitably it turned out that he was not, in fact, an officer, a small investigation led to him being charged. Before trial, our client wanted us to argue he had a First Amendment right to tell people he was an officer. He doesn’t. He ended up pleading out, but that case stood out in my mind.
29. Daddy’s Little Secrets
I work for a small but really old firm in Texas, and I work with a few attorneys who handle estate planning and wills. This man was a doctor. He passed on. He was worth about $2,000,000. He wasn't very wealthy, and we also handled a lot of bigger cases. However, he had five kids and an ex-wife. When he divorced years before, he came out as gay and moved in with his partner.
After he passed, his will stated that his house and money would go to this partner. His kids tried to argue it, and we ended up going through mediation. As kind of a whackadoodle move, his partner actually requested a paternity test on the father’s frozen specimen to see if the kids really had any claim at all to the estate. Well…
It took a lot of pull to do it, but in the end...It turns out all five kids were not actually related to the now-deceased father. The partner got to keep the entire estate.
30. Exhibitionist A
My client was charged with harassment for sending risqué photos and videos of himself to his ex-wife. The client swore to me, in private, that it was baseless and that his wife was lying. He never sent photos like that in his life. Then my office received a folder for discovery from the other side. Its contents were astonishing.
It’s filled with photos of my client's nether parts. Not only that, it was full body shots, with his face in frame. Sometimes, my client was wearing a baseball cap, sometimes he was wearing sunglasses, but without fail, he was never wearing clothing. I had to yell at him because it was an unbelievably flagrant lie to me. I told him he needed to trust me as his attorney.
After this confrontation, he only asked one question: "How many people saw me?" My answer was, "It should have been three or four. It was probably closer to 50."
31. Hijinks Ensue
My brother, fresh out of law school, was asked to defend this fraternity being sued for defecating in the dorm room of a pledge who did not finish his bid to be a brother. My brother called the co-defendants and the plaintiff the "Poopers" and the "Poopee" respectively in our group text.
32. A Family Affair
I am an attorney practicing estate planning and wills and trust. Not a week goes by that I don't hear a story about a family squabbling over an inheritance, but there was this one guy in particular. He had an aunt who was a lesbian and had recently married her lifelong partner. His aunt passed shortly after they were finally allowed to be married.
Like many couples, they had a trust together and, as you would imagine, it left everything to the surviving spouse. Only when both of them passed was it divided between other friends and relatives. The nephew was left with a fairly generous gift once both his aunt and her surviving wife passed. Well, apparently that wasn't good enough for him.
He wanted to sue his aunt's widow to get his inheritance that he was "entitled" to now. I explained that wasn't really possible, since the trust was very clear and it wasn't like his aunt left everything to her spouse under duress or anything like that. Also, the spouse had complete authority to change the trust and could theoretically cut him out of the trust entirely if she chose to.
There is something that happens when you tell people something contrary to what they want to hear. When you give someone advice that conflicts with how they believe the world works, they get upset, flustered, and more entrenched in their position. They will ask the same question multiple ways just to try to get you to tell them the answer they want to hear.
So he kept asking different ways he could sue to get his inheritance, and I kept telling him that he would mostly likely lose the case and then not receive anything, ever. Finally, he asked, "So what can I do?" My actual, legitimate advice: "You can be really, really nice to your aunt's wife." He stormed out of my office without saying a word.
That was a first for me. His mother was there for the entire meeting and apologized for his behavior, saying, "He's upset, he was really close to his aunt." Right, sure. It was absolutely clear where he developed his sense of entitlement.
33. The Bad Neighbors
These people wanted to sue their neighbor after having her house burned down because the fire spread to their house and they needed to do…a roof repair. The catch? Said neighbor passed in the fire. Their argument was that her behavior of taking homeless people into her house to give them a meal and some clothes was recklessly negligent. Thankfully, I was working defense on that case.
I think they just wanted some insurance settlement money, but we took it all the way and they took our offer to settle for nothing the week before trial.
34. This Old House
I'm not a lawyer, but I was involved in an outrageous case that changed my life. I bought a property while I was in college. When purchasing, I got title insurance from First American Title. At the time, the seller suggested I use them because that's who HE used and they did a great job—this will become important later.
Three weeks after buying the place, my nightmare begins. I get served by a Sheriff. Lawsuit says I'm in unlawful possession of someone else's property. What? So, I sent a letter to my title company and told them to handle it. No problem. They hired a lawyer who responded. Apparently, some guy who owned the house 10 or 15 years before had lost it in a lawsuit judgment.
Later, however, the lawsuit was overturned, and he wanted his property back. So, the previous owner sued the SELLER, AKA the guy I bought it from. The seller did the same thing I did, and told the title company First American. And they fought it for years. So, then this jerk seller decides to sell the property to me and not disclose this little problem.
Title company doesn't say anything, either. I didn't know any of this until one day in court, my attorney mentioned how she was so sick of dealing with this guy, Tim, who was trying to sue for the property he lost. I did some research and realized it was big cover-up by the seller and the title company. This went on for YEARS, as this Tim guy wouldn't go away.
College ends, and I need to move to another city. I can't sell the house because no one in their right mind would buy a house they know they are going to get sued for. So, I sued both the seller and the title company. Scraped every penny I had to keep it going. It came down to my last dime, but finally, we got them to settle.
This was basically paying me for what I owed on the house, and nowhere near what I should have gotten. And—the best part—the SELLER had to buy the house back. I think they are still battling it to this day. Same guy.
35. A Swing And A Miss
A guy found a rock in the middle of Melbourne that he believed came from an underground volcano, therefore he discovered the volcano and he owned the volcano. Therefore, the Melbourne city council and indeed the state government should pay him rent to live on top of his underground volcano. Fun Fact: Australia is the only continent with no active volcanoes.
36. A Speedy Trial
My stepmother took a case involving alleged workplace racism, where an African American woman was offended by a man making a joke about "African and European swallows" in response to someone’s question about swallows. According to my stepmother, she literally had to buy and play clips from a VHS copy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail in court to show the woman that it was just a Monty Python reference.
Luckily, the guy she accused won, and our family got to keep the VHS tape.
37. The Super Computer
I run a consumer advocacy firm, and I had a client come in and tell me that he bought a product, and the company refused to honor the warranty after the product broke. I asked for details, and he just started screaming in my face, asking if I was going to take his money or not. I decided then that I wasn't taking him on as a client, but I wanted to know what was going on.
I convinced him to tell me what happened. His explanation made my jaw drop. Turns out, he bought a computer back in the 1990s. It had just recently stopped working. But not because it was old, oh no. It was slow, so he picked it up and threw it out of a two-story window. And then he wanted to sue the manufacturer for breaking warranty.
38. A Convenient Truth
I’ve been a lawyer for 12 years. One of my clients was charged with "stealing a mobile toilet." After we won, he told me he actually did it, and still owns it. The dingus had the thing in his backyard because he was lazy and his office was nearby. I forced him to deliver it back that night...I’m still offended that he lied to me the whole time.
39. The Revenge Of The Ex
My client let his ex-girlfriend—they weren’t married—live in his house with her new boyfriend until her child’s school year ended. Very reasonable and understanding as heck. All in the child’s interest—who is not his child, by the way. My client was rich and bought and paid for everything they needed on top of all that other generosity.
Finally, the ex and the kid move out. When we arrived at the house, there was nothing to see. She dug up half the spruce hedge with her new boyfriend. Half is hers she said, since they planted them together. They probably burned it, because we found some branches in a barrel behind the house, where there was clearly burnt something. House was cleaned out. They took even the spoons and carpets.
40. Looking A Gift Horse In The Mouth
I interned at a law office, and this client came in to consult with my boss. They owned a horse farm in the country, and their sister had ridden one of the horses off the farm and into swampy, bogish territory off the beaten path. This client was utterly set on suing the sister for "decreasing the value of her horse" and wanted to sue her for $500 of damaged goods. Just….$500.
My boss just kind of sat there and stared at her. Being the good guy he is, he told her, "Miss, it's going to cost you more than $500 in fees, you'd be better off doing this in small claims court. But I wouldn't recommend that either, as the judge will likely throw out the case." The client was vehement on suing her sister in court with an attorney to "Teach her a lesson that she can't just ride off on other people's horses without permission."
My boss told her there was no way in good faith that he could assist with this lawsuit.
41. Pot, Meet Kettle
I’m a criminal defense social worker. I had a client who ran three red lights on a very busy street, knocked over an officer, drove up on the sidewalk, and was finally dragged out of his car in a parking lot. He wanted us to refer him to a civil attorney to sue the city because an officer was too rough with him during his arrest. I mean, I get it. They were probably rough with him. But good luck with that lawsuit.
42. A Promise Is A Promise
Not a lawyer, but I have a pretty ridiculous and tragic story from my own family. So, my grandfather promised my cousin when he was a kid that if he ever needed help in life, he would help him. You know, pretty standard grandpa stuff. Well, my cousin went to college at the University of Virginia and after that, he wanted to go to law school.
He didn't have enough money to attend, so he sued my grandfather on the basis that my grandfather had promised him “anything.” My grandfather didn't want to go to court, so he just settled. It was all very sad and I haven't seen my cousin in over five years.
43. The Cat’s Meow
My dad is an in-house lawyer for a major American insurance company. He once spent an entire year trying to help deny insurance benefits for a painter who had stepped off his ladder onto a cat, fallen down the stairs, and become paralyzed. The insurance company was arguing that a cat was a commonly expected occupational hazard for a painter.
As a result, they claimed he was negligent in not checking for cats before stepping down. A whole year of his life. Over whether a cat is a known occupational hazard of house painting.
44. The Worst Of The Worst
Lawyer and dog enthusiast here. During law school, I had the opportunity to work under a special license for the public defender in my city. Like in most cities, they were grossly understaffed and overworked, so I got to do an actual misdemeanor trial. The client that I had to accept—honestly, was forced to accept—was a woman who offed two puppies by neglect.
She left them in a cage outside, in February, with no food or water, then she called animal control to get them. I couldn't look at this person without feeling utter disgust. It did not help that she had a mustache and a rotten tooth. I asked her why she waited so long to call animal control, thinking that she should've called before so they could have been saved.
She replied "I don't like dogs." I had to defend this woman as the first person I ever represented. She took a decent plea. When it was concluded, she thanked me and tried to shake my hand. I just gave her a look and left.
45. Creative Uncommon
I was working in a firm and got a call from reception advising that someone had arrived and needed some intellectual property advice. I arrived at reception to find a clearly disturbed woman with a persistent facial twitch and a small, wheeled suitcase. I took her to a conference room to discuss, making sure I kept a good line of sight to reception.
She put the suitcase on the table and opened it to reveal a stack of thousands of handwritten pages and one half of a pair of scissors. She explained that she had written a manuscript about how the city council gave her schizophrenia and hepatitis, aliens took her pets, and that it was all part of a bigger conspiracy involving the army and the Illuminati.
She was worried that our local newspaper was going to take her thoughts and publish her manuscript without her consent, and wanted to register the copyright in her manuscript. We then had a perfectly rational and reasonable discussion about copyright laws. I explained that in our jurisdiction, she didn't need to register it and that she had rights as an author automatically on the creation of the work.
I told her the most useful thing she could do is ensure she had evidence of her creative work, and that she should send a digital copy to herself and a friend, and also leave a copy with a friend. That way if it was published without her consent, she could prove it was her work. We spoke for nearly an hour, she thanked me and then left.
She got free advice, and I didn't get punctured with a scissor. I hope she found the help she needs.
46. What Lies Beneath
I worked at a law office and sat in on some meetings to take notes. We had a guy come in for his case evaluation, and my boss, the lawyer, asked what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to sue this lake. I did my best to keep a straight face, and my boss asked the guy why he wanted to sue the lake. I’ll never forget what he told us that day.
He said that it ate his boat. We asked if he meant it sunk. He said that no, it didn't, the lake ate it. The boat was gone one day and he checked the video. The video showed the water level of the lake rise almost four inches and fall again, which caused the boat to break loose from the dock and sink. He showed us the video and sure enough, here is this little four-person boat and exactly that happened.
My boss said that she'd take the case, but couldn't guarantee how well it would do in court. When my boss said she'd need some money to process the paperwork, the guy threw down a brick of cash. There are some real weirdos out there.
47. Conflict Of Interest
My parents are both attorneys. Most recently, their crazy neighbor asked my dad to serve as his attorney in a slip and fall suit…against my parents. He had come over unannounced and uninvited at 6AM on a snowy morning and fell down our driveway. My dad was the one who helped him up and called the ambulance on his behalf.
The next day, crazy neighbor dropped off documents in my parents' mailbox for my dad to look over to see if he had a case…against my dad. And this is why I hate people.
48. I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means
This was unbelievable. My co-worker’s girlfriend filed for divorce a few weeks ago. That's right, girlfriend. They aren't married, and common-law doesn't apply in my state. They lived together for five years. She has a job. She isn't on the mortgage. And she left him a few months ago. There are no kids involved. They were never engaged.
In the "divorce," she wants him to leave his house and she wants to be the one to move back in. She also wants him to pay her $2,800 a month for some reason. I referred him to my divorce attorney, and now that attorney is probably going to represent him. The chick is nuts. She has already tried to get a restraining order against him that was dismissed.
49. You Get What You Pay For
This guy was a super smart engineer, but he fell for a woman who was just white trash. He married her, and at the time of the divorce, they had two kids aged six and four. One day, she told him she wanted a divorce and wanted him to move out. It was a huge house in a gated community, so I advised him to just move to another part of the house so he could be near his kids. But I knew something he didn’t know.
See, the reason she wanted him out of the house was so that she could have the man she was cheating on him with move in. I’d seen it before, and I was pretty sure it was the case here. He didn’t believe she was cheating, though, so I told him to go to the gate and check the logs. Sure enough, my client left every morning at 6:30 am for work.
Then around 7:30 am, three to five times a week, another man would check in at the gate and say he was headed to my client's house. I dug into the name, and it was my client's wife's ex-boyfriend, who was fresh off an eight-year stint behind bars. My client confronted his wife and recorded it. Her response was bone-chilling.
She basically admitted to cheating, then told my client she wanted to move her lover in, and if my client did not move out, she would make their children's lives miserable and make sure they know it was because daddy is being selfish. She lawyered up after that, and we played the tape for her attorney in the first conference.
He made some noise about consent and it not sounding like her, but he knew he was done for. In the end, my guy got the house, full custody, and the bank accounts. She got one car, her clothes, and jewelry (which were very valuable), some of the household items, and $25,000 cash. She literally moved from a palatial home in a gated neighborhood in the nicest part of town into a trailer in an unincorporated part of the county. Don't marry trash.
50. Sing It With Me: Five...Five...Five-Dollar Foot-Long
I once worked as a prosecutor on the misdemeanor docket, and I heard some really amazing defenses that, if the defendant had an attorney, they would definitely not have made. My favorite was this guy charged with speeding who gave what I now call “the five-dollar foot-long defense.” He pled guilty, but he wanted to provide an explanation to the judge. It became legendary.
He said that he had just eaten a five-dollar roast beef foot-long from Subway and was speeding to get home before he fell asleep because roast beef is a sedative. The judge chuckled and asked if he meant to say turkey, a lunchmeat that might cause some form of mild sedation. The man realized his mistake and said that the five-dollar foot-long contained both.
At this point, I am trying not to burst out laughing. Honestly, he used the word “five-dollar foot-long” about a half dozen times by this point, like he was actively advertising for Subway. The judge said he didn't think there was such a five-dollar foot-long available at Subway. At this point, the entire courtroom was laughing.
The judge told him to choose his food more carefully and slow down, along with giving him the maximum fine.