The Year’s Most Ridiculous Lawsuits

The mad holiday rush is nearly behind us. Next up, ushering in 2016. First, though, it’s always fun to reflect back upon the events of the passing year. And for us that means, taking a look at the year’s most ridiculous lawsuits.

The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) just issued its Top 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits for 2015. There are a few doozies; several involving hot coffee, another for an 8-year-old’s so-called careless hug and monkey “selfies.”

The ILR ranks the lawsuits by their popularity in monthly polls featured on the organization’s public awareness campaign, FacesofLawsuitAbuse.org.

“These stories will make you laugh, but sadly, frivolous lawsuits are all too common.  As a society we’re too quick to sue, and issues that could be settled outside of the courtroom result in expensive and unnecessary litigation and wasted time.”

ILR President, Lisa A. Rickard

Here’s the list, with a few of our favorites spotlighted:

1.  PETA Sues Photographer, Claiming Monkey has Ownership of “Selfies”

Yes, you read that correctly. David Slater, a British photographer, was snapping shots in Indonesia when he decided to set up a camera for a 6-year-old macaque monkey for his “monkey selfies” series. He published the images in a book called “Wildlife Personalities” but the animal rights group PETA is calling shenanigans. They’re arguing the monkey, named Naruto, should receive all proceeds from the selfies. The U.S Copyright Office replied it will register copyrights “only for works produced by humans.” Go figure.

2.  Bank Robber Sues for Injuries He Incurred While Making Escape

Todd Kirkpatrick thought he was going to get away scot-free after robbing a bank in 2012. That is until a Washington sheriff’s deputy caught him trying to flee the scene of the crime.  irkpatrick pointed a gun at deputy Dan Scott and shot then him twice.

He was found guilty of armed robbery and is serving time for that crime. This year, however, Kirkpatrick filed a legal claim against the County (a precursor to a lawsuit) for $6.3 million. He says medical bills totaled over $300,000 and that the other officers present did nothing to stop the deputy from shooting him while he was trying to flee the bank.

3. Aunt Sues 8-Year-Old Nephew for His “Negligent Hug”

As a child did you ever cringe at the thought of seeing that one aunt who insisted on squeezing your cheeks or planting unwanted kisses all over your cherub face? One 8-year-old boy felt the exact opposite for his aunt, Jennifer Connell. When she attended the boy’s birthday party her nephew was so excited to see ‘Auntie Jen’ he leapt into her arms, causing her to fall and break her wrist.

Connell claims the overly-excited boy was “negligent and careless” and “should’ve known that a forceful greeting such as the one delivered could cause the harms and losses suffered.” So, she filed suit for $127,000 (the cost of her medical and legal bills).

Connell says the injury has affected many aspects of her life, in the lawsuit she attested that she “was at a party recently, and it was difficult to hold [her] hors d’oeuvre plate.”

4.  Co-Ed Sues School After She Fails a Course Twice

5.  “Like, Five or Six Scratches” From a Gas Explosion Blocks Away Prompts NYC Women to File $40 Million Suit

6.  Sore Loser Suing the NFL For the Cowboy’s 2015 Playoff Loss

What sort of wrongdoing could possibly be worth suing for nearly $100 billion? Football of course.

A Colorado inmate filed a suit against the NFL for a whopping $88,987,654,321.88 following an overturned call in a playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. Wide Receiver Dez Bryant (number 88, see the correlation there?) made a one-handed catch the officials immediately reviewed and ruled as an incomplete pass.

The inmate, Terry Hendrix, felt cheated, alleging “negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and also reckless disregard” from NFL officials. He believes if the catch was not overturned his beloved Cowboys would have advanced to the NFC Championship.

7.  Woman Sues FedEx for “Negligently” Leaving a Package on Her Doorstep that She Tripped Over

8.  North Carolina Police Officer Sues Starbucks for Spilled Hot Coffee

After baristas handed Lt. Matt Kohr a cup of joe for free, he spilled the coffee in his lap. The Raleigh, North Carolina officer filed suit for $750,000 in damages from Starbucks. This happened three years ago but took until 2015 to resolve when the lawsuit was ultimately tossed out by a jury.

9.  Woman Files Suit for Injuries Incurred from a Flying Dinner Roll

10.  Woman Fakes Coffee Burns in an Attempt to Sue McDonald’s

The moral of all these stories? Suing isn’t always the answer. What do you think of these ridiculous lawsuits? In the meantime, Happy New Year!

Zachariah B. Parry is an attorney and founding partner at the law firm Parry & Pfau and is an adjunct professor who teaches torts, contracts, and Nevada practice and procedure for UNLV’s paralegal program. He can be reached at 702-912-4451 or [email protected]

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