5 Bizarre and Frivolous Lawsuits From Recent Years

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Twenty-five years ago, on Feb. 27, 1992, a woman named Stella Liebeck went through a McDonald’s drive-thru and ordered coffee. You’ve probably heard what happened next: the elderly woman spilled coffee on herself and suffered severe burns. And then she sued. A jury originally awarded her $2.9 million, although a judge reduced the amount and the two parties settled. But that case became a punchline for an out-of-control U.S. legal system and spurred calls for tort reform. Yet frivolous and outrageous lawsuits are still being filed daily in U.S. courts, burdening an already overloaded system. Other suits, while they may have merit, are incredibly bizarre. On a final note, if you don’t like this story … please don’t sue us.

Frivolous lawsuits cost U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year and add cost to the price of many consumer goods. © Karen Neoh

5. Pimp Sues Nike For $100M After Beating Man With ‘Dangerous Shoes’

A Portland pimp made international headlines a couple of years ago when he sued Nike for $100 million, blaming the apparel company for his legal woes. The suit stemmed from a 2012 incident in which Sirgiorgio Clardy brutally beat and stomped a man trying to skip out without paying a prostitute. Clardy claimed the Jordans he wore should have included a warning label that they could be used as a weapon to cause serious injury or death. Nike’s attorneys spoke for less than 90 seconds in court before the judge tossed the ridiculous lawsuit.


4. Man Sues McDonald’s For $1.5M After He Got Only 1 Napkin

A man who ordered a hamburger at a McDonald’s in Pacoima, Calif., in 2014 got only one napkin with his order. When he returned to ask for more, the manager told him he had received enough napkins. The customer, who is black, states the manager then mumbled, “you people.” The customer claimed the event had caused him “undue mental anguish.”


3. Plumber Sues Car Dealer After Terrorists Use His Work Truck

When a Texas plumber traded in his old work truck, he tried to remove his business decal and phone number from the door; he claims the dealer told him he might damage the paint, so they would remove it for him. Imagine the plumber’s surprise when his truck turned up on social media in 2014. Photos showed Syrian terrorists driving the truck, shooting an anti-aircraft gun mounted in the bed. Clearly visible on the door: the plumbing business name and phone number. The man sued the car dealer for $1 million, saying he’s since been harassed by strangers wanting to know why he is helping terrorists. We’ll definitely put this one in the category of “bizarre” rather than “frivolous.”


2. Inmate Sues NFL For $88 Billion For Cowboys Loss

Prisoners almost certainly file more frivolous lawsuits than any other class in society, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions each year. A 2013 New York Post story found that the New York City Department of Corrections had paid out $111.1 million in settlements over the past five years. Many were for frivolous lawsuits that the city decided to settle rather than spend time and money fighting in court. There may be no wackier prisoner suit in recent years than the Colorado inmate who sued the NFL for $88 billion after a Dallas Cowboys loss. Cowboys fans still complain about the play in the 2015 NFC playoff loss to the Packers where officials ruled that receiver Dez Bryant’s seemingly incredible catch was instead an incomplete pass. Cowboys fan Terry Hendrix, a prisoner in a Colorado facility, sued the league in 2015, alleging “negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and also reckless disregard.” The figure of $88 billion presumably was derived from Bryant’s No. 88 uniform number.


1. Man Sues Dry Cleaner For $54 Million for Losing His Pants

Many people have lost items at the dry cleaners. Stuff happens. We get mad, and maybe demand the dry cleaner reimburse us for the cost of the lost clothing. But when a Washington, D.C., dry cleaners lost Judge Roy Pearson’s pants, Pearson sued the business for $54 million. In Pearson vs. Chung, Pearson argued a “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign hanging in the cleaners entitled him to an enormous award. The judge hearing the case disagreed, ruling in favor of the dry cleaners. Unfortunately, the damage had been done — the Korean immigrants who ran the cleaners suffered devastating financial losses defending the litigation.

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