The 10 most ridiculous lawsuits of all time
Published 17/06/2009 | 00:00
Blame Stella Liebeck. It was her ridiculous lawsuit against McDonald's that started the avalanche. Back in 1992, 79-year-old Stella spilled a cup of McDonald's coffee on her lap and burned herself. Everyone laughed when she declared she was suing McDonald's, until a jury awarded her $2.9m.
Now outrageous lawsuits are a fact of life no matter how farcical.
The latest involves ex-con Dawud Yaduallah, who is suing a prison nurse in the US after she sent him to his cell even though medication had given him a painful 55-hour erection that wouldn't go away.
It seems that particular dose of "hard" time was just too much for Yaduallah. But even his legal action isn't so harebrained when compared to the Ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits Of All Time.
1. Beers 'n' babes
During the 1990s Budweiser ran a series of adverts where two beautiful women appeared in front of two truck drivers drinking the brew.
Michigan man Richard Overton promptly bought a case of the beer, drank it and waited -- but no hot babes appeared. Cue lawsuit. Overton cited emotional distress and mental injury due to false advertising and wanted over $10,000 in damages.
Thankfully, the court realised it would take a hell of a lot more than a case of Budweiser to get this loser a date and they decided to dismiss the case.
2. When all else fails, sue yourself
In 1995 Robert Lee Brock, a prison inmate in Virginia, claimed the crime he committed while drunk had violated his civil liberties and religious beliefs.
The penniless prisoner sued himself for $5m in the hope the state would be forced to pay on his behalf. The case was dismissed and proved prisoners serving 23-year-sentences have far too much time on their hands.
3. The $65m pants
When Roy Pearson's neighbourhood dry cleaner misplaced his trousers he demanded compensation -- $65m worth to be exact.
He not only claimed "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort" but that the Satisfaction Guaranteed and Same Day Service signs in the dry cleaners represented fraud.
Luckily Pearson, himself a judge, was not presiding over his own case and not only lost his pants and the case, but, eventually, his job as a judge.
4. Batman sues Batman
The mayor of Batman, a city in Turkey, is currently trying to sue Warner Brothers claiming the makers of the latest Caped Crusader movie The Dark Knight used his city's name without permission.
Mayor Huseyin Kalkan is also blaming the moviemakers for a number of unsolved murders and a high female suicide rate, which he claims are due to the psychological impact the film's success has had on the city's inhabitants.
As Robin would say, "Holy lame lawsuit Batman!"
5. The playboy pensioner
German playboy pensioner Rolf Eden (77) tried to sue 19-year-old Katharina Weiss in 2007 after she refused to sleep with him. His problem? Ageism. Eden claimed the teenager told him he was too old for her when the two arrived back in his place after a night out on the tiles.
Well, if Hugh Hefner can get away with it ...
6. Hit and sue
Spanish businessman Tomas Delgado tried to take the family of the 17-year-old boy he had killed when driving his Audi to court in 2004 over the dents left on his car. Even though speeding, Delgado was not prosecuted because the victim had been cycling at night without reflectors. Pubic pressure eventually forced him to drop the case.
Unfortunately, being an asshole is not a crime under Spanish law.
7. You're too famous!
Michael Jordan lookalike Allen Heckard tried to sue Nike for $832m for making Jordan so recognisable it caused him permanent injury, emotional pain and suffering. CBS called the legal action "so outrageous that it actually gives frivolous lawsuits a bad name".
8. Natural born suers
In 1996 the parents of Patsy Ann Byers sued Oliver Stone, claiming his movie Natural Born Killers resulted in the shooting of their daughter.
Byers was left paralysed after two thugs went on a crime spree after watching the movie.
Their case was eventually shot to pieces by Stone's lawyers and dismissed in 2001.
9. Give me my kidney back!
Richard Batista decided enough was enough when his cheating wife presented him with divorce papers.
He promptly decided to force her to return the kidney he had given her eight years previously to save her life or pay $1.5m. She had ripped out his heart and now he wanted her to rip out his kidney.
10. The sound of silence
Music publishers for the late avant-garde composer John Cage sued Mike Batt for plagiarism in 2002. They claimed Batt's song, 'A Minute's Silence,' ripped off Cage's '4'33,' which also contained absolutely no music or vocals.
Even though copyrighting silence would seem to be impossible, Batt agreed to settle the case out of court by paying a six-figure amount.
Silence, it seems, is not only golden but it is also potentially worth millions.