Some people will try anything to make a million. Ever thought of suing someone because they look like you? Check out this and other frivolous lawsuits for a laugh, but don’t try them yourself! Frivolous lawsuits very rarely make it through the courts, and usually wind up costing the plaintiff.
If I just drink enough beer, women will love me, right? 1991, Richard Overton sued Anheuser-Busch for $10,000. He claimed to have suffered emotional distress, mental injury, and financial loss because drinking beer did not make his fantasies of beautiful women in tropical settings come to life, as he claimed it had advertised, driving him to buy and drink more Bud Light. The case was dismissed.
If you can’t sue the system, sue yourself. 1995, Robert Lee Brock sued himself for $5 million. He claimed that he had violated his own civil rights and religious beliefs by allowing himself to get drunk and commit crimes which landed him in the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Virginia, serving a 23 year sentence for grand larceny and breaking and entering. What could he possibly have to gain by suing himself? Since being in prison prevented him from having an income, he expected the state to pay. This case was thrown out.
Criminals need not bear the responsibility for their crimes alone when the real money is in Hollywood. 1996, the family of Patsy Ann Byers sued Oliver Stone, Warner Brother, and others involved in the making and distribution of the movie Natural Born Killers for an unspecified amount. They claimed that the movie caused Sarah Edmondson and Benjamin Darrus to go on a crime spree which resulted in Edmonson shooting Byers during a robbery, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. The lawsuit was originally filed in 1995, against Edmonson and Darrus, the actual perpetrators of the crime spree. Stone and the others involved with the film were added in 1996. The portion of the case aimed at Stone and his associates was dismissed in 2001.
Since when were haunted houses frightening? 2000, Cleanthi Peters sued Universal Studios for $15,000. She claimed to have suffered extreme fear, mental anguish, and emotional distress due to visiting Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights haunted house, which she said was too scary.
When kids commit heinous crimes, who is responsible? The makers of every video game they’ve ever played, of course. 2001, Linda Sanders and other family members of Columbine High School shooting victims sued 25 movie and video game companies for $5 billion, in a class action lawsuit.They claimed that were it not for movies includingThe Basketball Diaries and videos games including Doom, Duke Nukem, Quake, Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, Mech Warrior, Wolfenstein, Redneck Rampage, Final Fantasy, and Nightmare Creatures, the massacre would not have occurred, and that the makers and distributors of the movies and games were partly to blame for their loved ones’ deaths. The case was thrown out and the plaintiffs were ordered to compensate the video game and movie companies for their legal fees.
Negligent security is a legitimate claim, when you’re the victim, not the perpetrator! 2002, Edward Brewer sued Providence Hospital for $2 million. He claimed that the hospital was negligent because it had not prevented him from raping one of its patients. The judge ruled that any damage Brewer suffered due to his crime was his responsibility for choosing to commit the crime, and that the hospital had no legal duty to protect him from that choice.
In another role reversal, dog killer sues victim’s owner for mental anguish.
2003, Andrew Burnett sued Sara McBurnett and the San Jose Mercury News, claiming they had caused him to suffer mental anguish and post traumatic stress disorder. Burnett filed the lawsuit while serving a three-year sentence for killing defendant McBurnett’s dog in a road rage incident, claiming that the incident had caused his suffering. The case was thrown out.
Music piracy can get you in real trouble, but you have to be alive to do it. 2005, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued Gertrude Walton, who had passed away the year before at the age of 83, after having received notice of her death and a copy of the death certificate. The RIAA claimed that Watson had illegally downloaded and shared over 700 songs. Watson’s daughter claims that she never even had a computer in the house. Although RIAA dropped the case against Watson, it was only one of over 20,000 similar lawsuits filed by the association beginning in
2003. While some of the lawsuits are legitimate cases of piracy, defendants have included a twelve-year-old girl whose parents wound up paying RIAA $2,000, and families who have never owned a computer. Defendants can face charges of $150,000 per song.
Weak stomachs and gross-out TV don’t mix. 2005, Austin Aitken sued NBC for $2.5 million. He claimed that an episode of “Fear Factor” caused him “suffering, injury, and great pain.” He said that watching the contestants eat rats on television made him dizzy and light-headed, causing him to vomit and run into a doorway. He judge said the case was frivolous and threw it out.
Mistaken for a superstar? How insulting! 2006, Allen Heckard sued Michael Jordan and Nike founder Phil Knight for $832 million. He claimed to suffer defamation, permanent injury, and emotional pain and suffering because people often mistook him for the basketball star. Heckard dropped the lawsuit later that year.
So, what about the infamous McDonald’s coffee case – the one that kicked it all off? We all know that coffee is hot, that’s not in question. What most people don’t know is that McDonald’s was serving their coffee at about 180-190 degrees, hot enough to cause third degree burns in mere seconds. After 700 claims for serious injuries caused by their coffee, they continued to serve it at that temperature. 79-year-old, Stella Lieback suffered third degree burns, was in the hospital for eight days, had multiple surgeries and skin grafts. All she asked of McDonald’s was to pay her medical bills. They refused, prompting her and her family to take them to court. Contrary to popular belief, Stella did not walk away with millions.
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