The Stupidest Lawsuits of All Time: Part Two

22 Dec

 

In part one of this post, we read about some lawsuits that were optimistic, vexatious, or just downright stupid.  Or all three.  Sadly, (or awesomely depending on your view) they weren’t even the worst of them, as you’ll see in this, The Stupidest Lawsuits of All Time: Part Two.

In part one I also left you with the following pop quiz:

Which of the following are reasons why actual lawsuits were filed by US prisoners:

  1. A prison failed to freeze a prisoner’s ice-cream.
  2. A prisoner received a bad haircut.
  3. A phone message taken for a prisoner contained errors.
  4. A prison refused to serve an inmate veal, lamb and oysters.

The answer?  All of the above!  Obviously!  Yes, evidence suggests that US criminals love themselves a stupid lawsuit.  I suppose they do have a lot of spare time on their hands.

Take, for example, Dale Frank Maisano.  The inmate of the Arizona State Prison Complex in Tucson sued the prison for giving him a “non-medical diet” that resulted in “cramps which caused the plaintiff to lose sleep”.  The amount of damages he was seeking?  One trillion dollars.  You might want to dial that back a notch Dale.

Or not…

Maisano also sued the prison for giving him late meals two days in a row, resulting in him developing an eating disorder.  The amount of damages he sought for that?  TEN trillion dollars!  Needless to say these lawsuits were dismissed.  As were the 380 other suits he’s filed since 1991!  Like I said, they have a lot of spare time on their hands.

"Ten trillion dollars!"

“Ten trillion dollars!”

But it’s not just US criminals who enjoy a stupid lawsuit.  The guys on the other side of the courtroom have proven themselves just as idiotic.  In 2007, a Washington D.C. judge named Roy Pearson sued the owners of a ‘mom and pop’ drycleaners*.  After he had picked up an $800 pair of pants ($800!!!) he had dropped off to be cleaned, Pearson examined the pants and decided that they were not his.  He sued the drycleaners, Mr and Mrs Chung, for stealing his $800 pants (seriously – $800!!!) and swapping them with a cheap replacement.  Even though they didn’t think they’d done anything wrong, the Chungs offered to settle the lawsuit by paying the judge $12,000.

Pearson refused.

Instead he wanted at least $1,500 per defendant for each day that they displayed a ‘Satisfaction guaranteed’ sign on their business (estimated at 12,000 days), emotional damages, the cost of a car to drive to an alternate drycleaners, and legal fees – even though Pearson represented himself!  The total cost of the lawsuit?  $67 million!

Thankfully not all judges are absurdly misguided as Pearson, and his lawsuit was promptly dismissed by the courts, as was his inevitable appeal.  Not only that, Pearson was required to pay the Chungs’ legal fees.  The best part about this story, however, is that Pearson also lost his job as a judge after a review board found he lacked “appropriate judgment and judicial temperament.”  The technical legal term for that comment by the review board is ‘rank understatement’.

I'd like to think Pearson's pants looked like this.

I’d like to think Pearson’s pants looked like this.

What could be worse than suing a hard working, older couple just trying to do a good job?  Suing a pair of children for giving you free cookies.  Yes, a 49-year-old American woman named Wanita Young sued her neighbours, teenagers Taylor Ostergaard and Lindsey Zellitti.  The friends spent an evening baking cookies for the residents of their street.  They wanted their good deed to be anonymous, however, and so left the heart shaped packages of biscuits on their neighbours’ porches, knocked on the doors, and ran away.  They also left behind notes saying, “Have a great night.  From the T and L Club.”  Naturally this enraged and frightened Young, who promptly called the police.  Even though the police saw nothing to suggest a crime had been committed and tried to calm Young down, she admitted herself into hospital the following day with a complaint of an anxiety attack.

Ostergaard and Zellitti apologised to Young when they found out, and their parents offered to pay her medical bills.  She turned down the offer and instead decided to sue.  There is a happy ending, as whilst the judge awarded Young the $900 she was seeking for medical damages, her claim of $3000 for lost wages and new motion-sensor lights was denied.  Also, when the ruling made national headlines, members of the public donated money to the teens to cover their costs.  The moral of the story?  Do not go trick-or-treating in that neighbourhood.

It’s not just crazy people who file ridiculous lawsuits – it’s also crazy cities as well.  In 2008, the mayor of a Turkish city planned suing Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros., the director and company behind the film The Dark Knight.  The city sought royalties from the film.  Why?  Because the Turkish city in question is named Batman.

As the mayor said, “There is only one Batman in the world.  The American producers used the name of our city without informing us.”  Not even the Joker would dare commit a crime so outrageous.

The mayor of Batman did not mention why the city hadn’t sued anyone before, even though the character was created in 1939, the TV show debuted in 1966, and five other Batman films were released before The Dark Knight.  It doesn’t take the Caped Crusader to figure out that The Dark Knight’s box office takings of over $1 billion might have had something to do with it.

Perhaps most bizarrely, the mayor planned on claiming damages for a number of unsolved murders and a high female suicide rate resulting from the psychological impact the film’s success had on the city’s residents.

Bruce Wayne always struggled internally with himself, but this is truly the biggest fight Batman has had with Batman.

"Let's see.  'I'm Istanbul!'  No.  'I'm Ankara!'  Nup.  'I'm Izmir!'  Nope.  'I'm Batman!'  Yes!  That works!"

“Let’s see. ‘I’m Istanbul!’ No. ‘I’m Ankara!’ Nup. ‘I’m Izmir!’ Nope. ‘I’m Batman!’ Yes! That works!”

Going to a strip club on your bucks night can be dangerous, depending on whether or not your fiancé finds out, but for Paul Shimkonis, his visit to the Diamond Dolls Club was particularly fraught with peril.  That was because Shimkonis was injured – by being struck in the face by a stripper’s breasts, resulting in alleged injuries to his face, head and neck.

The alleged ‘assailant’ was Tawny Peaks (possibly not her birth name), a stripper and star of several adult films including Boob Cruise ’94 (I’m not making that up).  Tawny sports a pair of breasts variously reported as between sizes 60HHH and 69HH – in other words, freaking huge – which she used to ‘entertain’ Shimkonis.  However, Shimkonis claimed that Tawny’s breasts were so hard, and hit him so forcefully, that they knocked him out and gave him whiplash.  Or as I like to call it, striplash.

As Shimkonis stated, “I was literally seeing stars.  The best way to describe it is like a concrete block hitting me in the forehead.”  Not sure what the doctor used for Tawny’s implants, but I would stick to silicone if I was him.  In any event, Shimkonis sued Peaks and the Diamond Dolls Club for $15,000 in damages.  Preferably in $1 bills.

Just when you think this story couldn’t get more ridiculous, the lawsuit was heard on the television show, The People’s Court.  After hearing evidence on Peaks’ breasts being like “concrete”, a female bailiff ‘appraised’ her breasts (Tawny’s, not the bailiff’s) and gave evidence that they were, “About two pounds each and of average firmness.”  The lawsuit was dismissed, and Tawny was free to slap her breasts into the faces of more appreciative men.

Finally is this, possibly my favourite lawsuit of all time.

According to he lawsuit of Allen Heckard, of Portland, USA, life was tough.  He couldn’t attend religious services, ride public transport, play sport in public parks, or eat at restaurants without being harassed.  The cause of the harassment, according to his lawsuit, was that Heckard looked too similar to basketball superstar Michael Jordan.  Yes, in 2006 he sued Jordan and the company that helped make him a celebrity, Nike, $416 million each on the grounds that his resemblance to Jordan caused emotional pain and suffering, defamation, and permanent injury.  Apparently not everyone wants to ‘Be Like Mike’.

Mmmm...no.

Mmmm…no.

In Heckard’s words, “I’m constantly being accused of looking like Michael, and it makes it very uncomfortable for me.  Even when I go to the gym I’m being accused of playing ball like him.”  Yes, I’m sure you frequently get told you play like the best and most exciting basketball player that ever lived.  And even if you did, it must be devastating to hear.  As for looking like Jordan, Heckard is six inches shorter and eight years older, which doesn’t help his claims.  And if his ‘resemblance’ to Jordan is so problematic for him, perhaps he could stop shaving his head and wearing Nike earrings and Jordan sneakers.

Heckard eventually dropped the suit.  He was last seen at the Diamond Dolls Club.

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