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Ouch, that hurt! Now give me lots of money (a sample of inane lawsuits)

January 20, 2010
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I live in Orange County and there has been a relatively big story lately about an accident that occurred in one of the local harbors.  The harbors here have several byways in the form of channels lined with docks and homes.  They are all “no-wake” zones and littered with low bridges.  A few months ago, a few morons left a bar, hopped into a speedboat, and proceeded to boat down one of these channels at high speed.  As they went under one of the bridges, the boat made it and the men didn’t.  I believe the accident killed two of them and seriously injured a third.  Now remember, all three men were very intoxicated and committed a felony just by driving the boat.  I usually don’t wish to speak ill of the recently deceased, but this case is Darwinesque.  

"Your honor, my vision was impeded by a can."

 Well, the families of the two men are suing the city for millions of dollars for failure to post a “low bridge” sign.  Unbelievable.  These idiots got drunk, got in a boat, went down a channel well above the posted speed limit, ran into a bridge, and it’s the city’s fault?  The sad thing is, they’ll probably just settle out of court and the families will have a bunch of money to help forget about the deaths of their loved ones.  Pitiful.  It seems to be the American way these days.  We have become such a litigious society that everyone is suing anyone for the most inane reasons.  Here are some of the most ridiculous examples. 

  

So much for truth in advertising 

In 1991, a Michigan man sued the large brewer for false advertising and mental anguish.  Citing a commercial in which two women come to life for a couple of Budweiser drinkers, he was angry that he wasn’t experiencing the same fantasy.  

Even if true, still not enough for me to drink a Budweiser

 Because he’s an idiot and tried to make this happen so often, he also sued for financial loss.  The case was dismissed by the judge. 

  

Maybe he really wanted to be rear-ended 

This one, also in Michigan, involves a 27 year old man who was the victim of a minor car accident.  Several years later, the man sued the person who hit him claiming that the accident changed his sexuality.  

"You idiot! Why don't you watch where you're going? By the way, do you work out?"

 You read that right.  He said that since the accident he was no longer sexually attracted to his wife, moved in with his parents, and started frequenting gay bars.  You see!  All Ted Haggard had to do was get into a small accident to cure his gayness.  That would have been much faster. 

  

Since you’re suing everyone, sue yourself too 

When you’re in prison serving a 23 year sentence, I guess there’s nothing left to lose.  In 1995, a prisoner sued himself for $5 million.  He said that because he allowed himself to get drunk and commit grand larceny, he violated his civil rights and religious beliefs.  

Someone said "Go sue yourself." He said "Good idea."

 His idea was that since he was a ward of the state, the state would have to pay any damages awarded to him.  The judge had himself a little chuckle and threw out the case. 

  

Did you ever think of looking out the window? 

A woman was watching the local news waiting for the weather report.  After some mindless banter and lame jokes, the prediction was for sunny weather.  She went out without a coat and got caught in a downpour.  

Today's forecast: cloudy with a chance of stupid

 She subsequently caught a flu bug, missed four days of work, and had to buy some NyQuil.  She sued for $1000 for that and mental duress. 

  

That’s a frisky pool! 

This one happened overseas, but it just means that there are crazy people elsewhere as well.  A woman sued an Egyptian hotel because she claimed the swimming pool at the hotel got her 13-year-old daughter pregnant.  

Just try to get a condom on this

 She said that there must have been sperm floating in the pool because her daughter “did not meet any boys on the trip”.   Sure.  Maybe ignorance is bliss, maybe apathy or bad parenting is to blame.  Either way, this woman must have failed every biology class she ever took. 

  

If it’s triple-ply, it could be dangerous 

A man in Alabama sued a Wendy’s because “unreasonably dangerous toilet paper dispensers.”  Hold on while I try to contain my laughter.  OK, better.  Anyways, he said that a roll of toilet paper dislodged from the dispenser and seriously injured him.  

OK fine. Toilet paper can SOMETIMES be dangerous

 Now, I toilet papered my fair share of houses when I was a kid.  I guess that time when the roll hit me in the face (that I barely noticed) I should have feigned injury and sued my friend. 

  

An act of God?  Not is this guy has anything to say 

Ernie Chambers is a senator from Nebraska.  Pay close attention to that, because that means he is a man of the people and a smart one at that, right?  Well, maybe not.  You see, Senator Chambers decided that his state was being targeted by natural disasters.  They must have been small ones, because I didn’t hear about any.  Well, he took it to court and sued God. 

Sorry God, but you're going to have to cease and desist. At least in Nebraska.

 The senator claims that the defendant, who at the risk of sounding redundant is God, directly and proximately has caused, inter alia, fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornados, and pestilential plagues.”   While that may or may not be true, the judge wouldn’t hear the case because the defendant wouldn’t show up for a hearing.  Chambers attempted to base his ability to sue God as, “the defendant, being omnipresent, is personally present in Douglas County.”   “No dice” said the judge.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. tony permalink
    January 20, 2010 4:20 pm

    I like the guy — who was a judge or a lawyer, can’t remember which — who sued the dry cleaners for millions of dollars for failing to deliver his pants on time.

    or the lady who spilled her coffee in her lap at the drive-through and sued McDonald’s… Because the coffee was… wait for it… Hot!

    personally, after i win my lawsuit against Vince the Sham-Wow guy regarding my Slap-Chop suckiness and my resulting disillusionment in As-Seen-On-TV products and mental anguish, it’s easy street, baby….

    Fat of the land, Lennie.

  2. Miramon permalink
    January 21, 2010 10:00 am

    He was a judge, and he damn near drove the cleaner out of business, being a vindictive crazy SOB who knew how to abuse the system.

  3. ryan permalink
    January 21, 2010 10:57 am

    to be fair, ernie chambers sued god as a protest against the laws in nebraska that let frivolous lawsuits happen.

  4. Cari permalink
    January 21, 2010 12:25 pm

    I’m a lawyer, and I’m going to sue over the mental anguish caused by this article.

  5. Viridian permalink
    January 21, 2010 7:26 pm

    As to the woman who spilled hot coffee in her lap, she was very seriously burned and required surgical treatments because the coffee was a few degrees below boiling. The burn extended deep into the flesh of her legs.

    It sounded ridiculous, but the actual details are gruesome. McDonald’s had a policy of serving coffee at that temperature; a number of people had been severely burned and McDonald’s had known the temperature was the problem, and did nothing to change it, and that’s why they were found liable.

    • Gerard permalink
      January 21, 2010 7:40 pm

      I’ll second this. No other fast food outlet served coffee at that temperature. You cannot come anywhere near drinking McD’s coffee at the time they hand it to you. And the lid placed by their employee popped off. There are ludicrous suits, and it is fun to laugh, but this one was tailor made for over-simplification.

    • Gauldar permalink
      January 22, 2010 8:08 am

      “On February 27, 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico, ordered a 49¢ cup of coffee from the drive-through window of a local McDonald’s restaurant. Liebeck was in the passenger’s seat of her Ford Probe, and her grandson Chris parked the car so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. She placed the coffee cup between her knees and pulled the far side of the lid toward her to remove it. In the process, she spilled the entire cup of coffee on her lap.[9] Liebeck was wearing cotton sweatpants; they absorbed the coffee and held it against her skin as she sat in the puddle of hot liquid for over 90 seconds, scalding her thighs, buttocks, and groin.[10] Liebeck was taken to the hospital, where it was determined that she had suffered third-degree burns on six percent of her skin and lesser burns over sixteen percent.[11] She remained in the hospital for eight days while she underwent skin grafting. During this period, Liebeck lost 20 pounds (nearly 20% of her body weight), reducing her down to 83 pounds.[12] Two years of medical treatment followed.”

      She won the case due to the temperature of the coffee, but the spilling was her own fault.

      Taken from

      • Duane permalink
        January 22, 2010 9:16 am

        As noted before, McDonalds was aware that their coffee was burning people and an internal memo recommended that they reduce the temperature to avoid this problem but someone in management decided to keep the high temp. That is the definition of negligence.

    • tony permalink
      January 22, 2010 10:36 am

      begin rant:

      sure, sure. i understand what you’re saying. and in a perfect world, i would get my coffee and immediately be able to sip it at just the perfect temperature that was neither too hot nor too cold for my delicate little taste buds.

      in reality, though, most people know that fresh coffee–wherever it comes from–should be handled with at least some minimal level of common sense. As Gaulder pointed out, the lady held it in her lap in a styrafoam cup–not a smart move.

      the fact that she had such a horrible reaction and lost so much weight it sad, but could this whole thing have been avoided–as most of these types of lawsuits could be– by using a little common sense?

      where do we draw the line? should mcdonald’s have to drop a thermometer into the coffee before they issue it to a customer? or stamp every coffee cup with a warning saying that the coffee may be very hot and you shouldn’t try to hold it between your legs?

      it opens the door for so many jerks to try to take advantage of every one of us. “your honor, there was no fence to keep me from falling down the cliff and breaking my neck while i was hiking through yosemite. the national park should pay me millions of dollars for making there cliffs so high and dangerous and not posting a sign!”

      sure, there was a memo at mcdonalds, so it was negligence. they should know that everyone wants to be able to chug their coffee the second it comes out of the maker. they should just serve the stuff at room temperature.

      rant over.

  6. Joshua permalink
    January 22, 2010 12:45 pm

    Tony,

    I can appreciate your rant. However, because of her lawsuit, most companies lowered their temperatures to a reasonable and safe level (but still nice and hot). That lawsuit has actually had a positive impact that has benefited others. I hate frivolty, but I’m all for the kind of suits that change policy for the better.

    Yes, a person should use common sense and be careful, but accidents happen to everyone. A company serving a drive throughs should assume spills are inevitible. Even while using the best judgment, someone could still end up spilling a cup of coffee. At no point would I assume that a consumable product I just purchased would be hot enough to cause 3rd degree burns. A scalding is one thing, but chared and necrotized flesh? 3rd degree is serious. Now, it’s safe to say that no one will go through that again.

  7. January 23, 2010 12:30 pm

    Also from the Wikipedia account of the case:

    “Though defenders of the Liebeck verdict argue that her coffee was unusually hotter than other coffee sold, other major vendors of coffee, including Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s, and Burger King, produce coffee at a similar or higher temperature.”

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