We live in a litigious world and, more importantly, one filled with scam artists and individuals looking for any excuse to blame their mistakes, problems or minor shortcomings on large companies or the government. People will sue at the drop of a hat these days, but what are the dumbest lawsuits of all time? From spilled coffee to an undecillion dollars, the legal cases below include some pretty funny, if absolutely crazy claims.
1. Think twice before you use that emoji
An Israeli couple had to pay more than R27 000 for an apartment they never rented, thanks to an emoji. The couple contacted a landlord they found online about their interest in an apartment. During their text conversations, the couple used various smiley faces, as well as other emojis like a champagne bottle and a peace sign. Because of this, the landlord thought the couple was sincerely interested and took his property off the market.
Except they weren’t, and when they backed out, he took them to court for the month’s rent that he lost. And a judge ruled he had every right to do so. “Although this message did not constitute a binding contract between the parties, this message naturally led to the plaintiff’s great reliance on the defendants’ desire to rent his apartment,” he said in his ruling.
2. Man against God
Here’s a case that brings new meaning to the relationship between church and state. Ernie Chambers sued God “for directly and proximately [causing], inter alia, fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plague.”
He also used the lawsuit as a cease and desist order to God, complaining He must bow to the law and “cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats.”
3. Well, with a name like that
A man who legally changed his name to Jack Ass in 1997 sued Viacom, MTV’s parent company, because the show they aired called “Jackass” prompted defamation to his good name and tore apart his reputation.
Mr. Ass was seeking R135 million “for injury to a reputation I have built and defamation of character I have created.” Mr. Ass was trying to spearhead an awareness campaign about the dangers of alcohol. Mr. Ass had good intentions, but it seems a little crazy and convoluted to legally change your name to Jack Ass and run a campaign whose slogan is “Don’t be a dumb ass, be a smart ass.”
4. The mafia are very serious about their fashion models
Gregory McKenna alleged that two iPods he purchased on eBay contained illegal receivers. The Mafia used these to send him threatening messages, he said in the suit filed in 2009.
McKenna claimed that the reason why the Mafia was after him was because he had refused to work as a fashion model for them. He has asked for R192 million in damages.
5. Thief rewarded for injury
A young man of 19, located in Los Angeles, CA was awarded R2 million (plus medical expenses) when his neighbour accidentally ran over his hand with his car. The young man was unaware that there was someone behind the wheel of the car…while he was trying to steal the hubcaps off his neighbour’s car.
6. The coffee was just too hot
It’s common to hear people complain about their hot coffee being served cold. For 79-year-old Stella Liebeck, however, the McDonald’s coffee she ordered at a drive-thru was so hot, it deserved a lawsuit. After all, it spilled on her all over her lap when she put it between her knees and gave six percent of her skin third degree burns.
When Liebeck contacted McDonald’s for hospital bill reimbursement, the company responded with an R10 000 offer. She then sued the fast food chain for R170 000 citing “physical and mental pain, anguish, and loss of life’s enjoyment.” The jury awarded her R3.8 million in damages which was ultimately reduced to R650 000.
7. Undecillion Dollars – that should be enough
A man who was bitten by a dog in New York sued the city for, literally, all the money on the planet.
Enraged Anton Purisima, 62, has filed a lawsuit calling for two undecillion dollars – $2,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 – for his injuries.
After being nipped by a rabid canine on a bus, he had an infected middle finger. He also felt his suffering couldn’t be fully compensated for by money, but the huge sum he was asking for might help.
8. 4000 too much
Though Americans seem to sue people at the drop of a hat, prisoner Jonathan Lee Riches – who has filed almost 4,000 lawsuits from his Kentucky jail cell – takes the cake.
Many have been important actions, with his targets including Adolf Hitler, The Eiffel Tower, The Garden of Eden and the former planet, Pluto. Not all of them have focused on dead people or inanimate objects, however. Jonathan, 39, has also tried to sue George W Bush and Britney Spears. Then, in 2009, the Guinness Book of World Records tried to list him as the most litigious individual in history. So, he sued them too.
But in 2010 he got his comeuppance when the US Attorney’s Office in Kentucky sued him for wasting judicial resources.
The world is a crazy place, and it is not slowing down, and we here at IPS are excited to see what the world is yet to offer.