Remember the 90’s? Grungy rock stars with greasy hair in their eyes. Gangsta rappers with their bootylicious girls and guns. One or two TV shows to watch. Hooties and blowfishes. Frivolous lawsuits. Oh, the frivolous lawsuits. So many in one decade that it made our heads spin. And even though someone tried to put a lid on the lawsuits in 1998, they still just keep on a-comin’.
Here are some of those crazy lawsuits known – and unknown. And surprisingly enough, most come after the 90’s lawsuits craze.
Wendy’s Finger Chili Case
In 2005, Anna Ayala claimed she found a severed finger in her Wendy’s chili and the nation made a giant vomiting noise. As a result, Wendy’s lost millions in sales from patrons who had images of severed fingers dancing in their heads. But it turned out to be a giant hoax: the cold fingertip was planted in the chili by Ayala and her husband, Jaime Plascencia, who acquired the fingertip from a friend.
Richard Overton Sues Budweiser
In 1991, Richard Overton turned on the TV and was outraged by what he saw: pictures of people drinking beer with hot girls! So, he sued Anheuser-Busch for $10k for false advertising. He noted that the commercials for Bud Light depicted scenarios where “beautiful women and men engaged in endless and unrestricted merriment.” Overton apparently felt distress when he discovered beer didn’t guarantee this. His case was promptly dismissed. Please, no one tell him about unicorns.
Man Sues Magicians for Using His “Power”
According to his website, Christopher Roller is a powerful being (as witnessed by the CIA) and Tom Hanks is going to play him in a movie about his God-like powers and 30 wives. Though Roller talks about his ability to have astral projected sex and to cheat death in a joking manner, he has filed several serious lawsuits. In 2005, Roller sued magician David Blaine for $50 million because, he claimed, Blaine was tapping Roller’s power to perform magic tricks. He also sued David Copperfield for similar magic-stealing. Yet, despite being all-powerful, Roller lost his case. But don’t worry, according to his website, he’ll keep suing.
Woman Sues Dead Man
In 2008, Gayane Zokhrabov was standing on a train platform when she was struck by portions of an unfortunate young man who had just been hit by an oncoming train. When she tried to sue the accident victim, the judge dismissed the case saying the man couldn’t have known where his body was going to strike. Uh, because he was dead.
Chinese Man Sues Wife For Being Ugly
When most people have an ugly baby, they hope the kid will grow out of it and move on. But when Chinese man Jian Feng had one, he demanded answers from his beautiful wife. She broke down and admitted that she had undergone extensive plastic surgery before she met Feng. Feeling betrayed, Feng divorced his wife and then successfully sued her for $120,000 in damages for marrying him under false pretenses.
Judge Sues Dry Cleaner For $67 Million
In 2007, Judge Roy Pearson, sick and tired of bad service, decided to make an example of his local dry cleaner by suing them for $67 million over a lost pair of pants. Because he’s a reasonable guy, he later dropped the suit to $54 million. Pearson became teary on the witness stand as he cross-examined himself about the emotional toll of losing a pair of pants. If Pearson had such a deep relationship with his pants, he should have been overjoyed when the beleaguered dry cleaner returned them in the courtroom. Despite a matching claim ticket, Judge Pearson was adamant they weren’t his.
Old Guy Sues Young People Contest
In a case of irony so thick it should be an Alanis Morrisette song, a man sued the Young Concert Artist competition for age discrimination. Martin Stoner, 60, was a violinist with the New York City Ballet orchestra. He lost his job, then tried to compete for the Young Concert Artists prize, valued at $75,000. Since Stoner was 60 and had been playing for the ballet for 25 years, he wasn’t allowed to compete. So, he did what any American would do: he filed an injunction to stop the contest. After his case was thrown out due to filing errors, he refiled and got the same judge. He then complained that the 88-year-old judge had too many “mental and physical limitations” and was “too old” to fairly try Stoner’s case. (The judge allowed the contest to proceed without the plaintiff.)
Jesse Dimmick Sues Couple He Kidnapped
Kidnappers don’t get no respect. Jesse Dimmick, a fugitive murder suspect, kidnapped a young couple and claimed he entered into a verbal contract with them. The terms were that they would hide him from the law in return for an unspecified about of money. Unsurprisingly, the couple turned him in and in the resulting arrest, Dimmick was shot in the back by police. The couple sued Dimmick for $75,000 for trespassing, intrusion, and emotional distress. Dimmick countersued for $235,000, claiming the couple violated their contract with him. The couple’s lawyer noted in his response to the counterclaim that a contract couldn’t be entered into, because hiding a fugitive is illegal. The judge agreed; the counterclaim was dismissed.
Woman Loses 80 Cents, Sues for $5 Million
A woman walks into a store, buys some things and uses a coupon. When she returns one of those items, she is outraged to discover that the refund is the value of the item, minus what was saved with the coupon. In this case, 80 cents. She claimed that the “scheme” “unjustly enriched” the store and deprived her of the “full benefit” of the coupon. So, in order to recoup her $0.80, she sues for $5 million. If you ever needed evidence that Americans are terrible at math, this is it.
Kids Sue Mom for Not Loving Them Enough
Siblings Stephen and Kathryn Miner sued their mother over shocking allegations: not sending care packages to Stephen, refusing to buy Kathryn a homecoming dress, and threatening to take a young Stephen to the police station if he didn’t buckle up in the car. The judge dismissed the case put forward by the twenty-something children, saying that the nature of their mother’s actions did not fall outside the bounds of “common decency.”
Man Sues God
Many of us feel that God has dealt us a bad hand. But suing the Holy of Holies? In 2007, Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers filed a lawsuit ordering God to cease “harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats.” But just in case you think he’s crazy, he clarified his intentions by stating that he’s not actually suing God, he just wanted to fight possible laws restricting the filing of frivolous lawsuits. Yes, you read that right.
The Infamous Hot Coffee Lawsuit
You know that warning on the side of your hot drink? You can thank Stella Liebeck for that. Liebeck suffered third-degree burns from the McDonald’s coffee cup she was holding between her knees and sued the company for damages. McDonald’s refused to settle and the case went to a jury, which awarded Liebeck $2.7 million. The judge reduced the amount and both parties appealed. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount, but paved the way for similar litigation that other corporations have had to fend off.
Mouse In Mountain Dew
What’s worse than a finger in your chili? How about a mouse in your Mountain Dew? That’s what one oil worker claimed he found when he popped open a can of his favorite beverage. In 2009, Ronald Ball sued Pepsi for $50,000 in damages as a result of the dead mouse. Pepsi argued that there couldn’t have been a dead mouse in his Dew because the yellow brew would have liquefied the rodent. Pepsi insisted on their denial of liability, even as they settled for an undisclosed sum.
Michael Jordan Looks Like Him
Instead of being happy that people think he looks like Michael Jordan, Alan Heckard is mad. He says he feels uncomfortable hearing people make the constant comparisons, which caused emotional pain and suffering. It was especially galling when fellow gym-goers accused Heckard of playing ball like Jordan. So, in 2006, he sued Michael Jordan for $416 million. He also sued Nike for the same amount on the grounds that they made Jordan a recognizable celebrity. Heckard eventually dropped the suit.
Paul Ceglia v. Facebook
Paul Ceglia, owner of a wood-pellet fuel distribution business, sued Mark Zuckerberg in 2010, claiming he owns 84% of Facebook. The claim was based on a contract he and Zuckerberg allegedly entered into in 2003, in which Ceglia gave Zuckerberg start-up money for “The Facebook.” After back-and-forth fraud allegations, claims of doctored documents, and a lot of lawyer’s fees, Ceglia was dropped by three law firms. The judge then ordered him to produce a letter written by his former lawyers calling his contract a fraud. Between nearly $1 million in mounting court fees and Facebook’s plummeting share price on the stock market, should Ceglia ever win his suit, he may find it wasn’t worth the effort.
- 9 Insane Cases that Prove the US Legal System Is Screwed (undisputedlegal.wordpress.com)
- Judge Will Decide Lawsuit Involving Busch Next Month (stlouis.cbslocal.com)
- Jury Says No To Convicted Kidnapper’s Claim For Damages (wibw.com)
- Judge refuses to toss Kansas military school lawsuit (kansascity.com)
- Report: “Frivolous” suits cost SD $17M (utsandiego.com)