Saturday, December 1, 2012

Frivolous Lawsuits—Almost Too Ludicrous For Words

Is the U.S. the most lawsuit-happy country in the world? Am I the only one who is sick and tired of reading/hearing about frivolous lawsuits where people are suing someone (or more often a company that they assume has deep pockets) for something that's the result of their own stupidity or carelessness? Apparently it's easier to sue someone rather than take responsibility for their own actions. Of course, the humor element of the lawsuit content is fun, but the reality of the cost to tax payers and having the court calendar bogged down isn't funny. It just seems to me that in something like the last maybe 20 years frivolous lawsuits have skyrocketed—not only in number, but also in how ludicrous and ridiculous they are. There is the reality that many reports of frivolous lawsuits are nothing more than internet hoaxes, but there are as many that are legitimate.

Ever wonder why those weird warnings are sometimes on the packages of items you purchase? Things like telling you not to operate various electrical appliances while in the bathtub, something that seems so blatantly obvious that it shouldn't require a special warning. But, obviously the manufacturer was sued at some time by someone who did just that.

And why the warning to tell you that hot coffee is actually hot? Well, that goes back to another lawsuit.

I think my conscious disgust with frivolous lawsuits dates back to the infamous McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit of several years ago. Woman buys a cup of coffee at McDonalds then puts the cup between her legs in her car so she could drive. Well…surprise, surprise…the coffee spilled and she suffered burns. Needless to say, she certainly didn't take any responsibility for what happened. After all, it was McDonald's fault because their hot coffee was actually hot. So she sued them. And the clincher is that a jury awarded her an obscene amount of money thus rewarding her for her poor decision making and actions.

And here's one I read in a news report a few months ago. In March 2012 a man died of heart failure while engaged in a threesome with a woman (not his wife) and another man. The dead man's family sued his cardiologist claiming the doctor should have warned him not to become involved in strenuous physical activity. The man had been to the cardiologist the week before with chest pains. The doctor determined he was at high risk of having clogged heart arteries and ordered a nuclear stress test for 8 days later. The threesome and the man's death occurred the day before the scheduled stress test. The jury awarded the man's family $3 million in damages even though the doctor had instructed his patient to "avoid exertional activity until after the nuclear stress test was completed." Apparently he should have explained that avoiding exertional activity included staying away from sexual threesomes.

And there's the guy who, in 1991, tried to sue Anheuser-Busch for $10,000 because, after drinking large quantities of Bud Light, beautiful women didn't come to life in tropical settings and pursue him like they did in the commercials.

As we all know, staged haunted houses at Halloween are there for the specific purpose of scaring people. But in 2000 a woman sued Universal Studios for $15,000 because their Halloween Horror Nights haunted house caused her "extreme fear, mental anguish, and emotional distress." Makes you wonder exactly what she thought something called Halloween Horror Nights haunted house would be.

A woman sued Starbucks for serving her tea that was "unreasonably hot." Makes you wonder which came first…McDonalds or Starbucks?

An Israeli woman sued a television station for predicting fair weather. Because of the forecast, she dressed in light clothes but later that day the weather turned cooler and it rained. She ended up sick and had to miss work so she sued for $1000. Bottom line, she sued over an act of nature…and won. I do have to admit that it's nice to come across one that isn't U.S.

And speaking of suing for an act of nature, isn't that like suing God?

A man living in Minnesota thinks he's a god of some sort. He became upset after seeing David Copperfield and David Blaine perform their magic acts and sued both of them for using his "godly powers." (this is me shaking my head in disbelief)

Two teen girls in Colorado decided to bake some cookies and share them with neighbors. One neighbor woman was so shocked by two 15-year-old girls at her door at 10:30pm that she had an anxiety attack. She sued for medical expenses and won $930 to cover the expense of her trip to the emergency room but was denied money for "pain and suffering."

And here's a truly bizarre one. A woman standing on a train platform was pelted by portions of an unfortunate young man who had just been hit by an oncoming train. She tried to sue the victim but the judge dismissed the suit because the young man had no way of knowing where his body parts were going to land…due to the fact that he was dead.

A fugitive murder suspect kidnapped a couple and claimed he entered into a verbal contract with them where they would hide him from the law in exchange for an unspecified amount of money. The couple turned him in and during the subsequent arrest he was shot. The couple sued the fugitive for $75,000 for trespassing, intrusion, and emotional distress. He countersued for $235,000 claiming the couple violated their verbal contract with him. The judge dismissed the fugitive's counterclaim because the couple could not have entered into that contract as hiding a fugitive was illegal.

And that's just a sampling of the idiocy clogging our legal system. It does make you wonder how any legitimate legal business get resolved.


Miriam Newman said...

I'd like to say these are too funny for words, but actually some of them are sad beyond words, too. It's a bit like mental aberration spilling over into society and you're left wondering who is in charge of the asylum. A little frightening in some cases. But I guess now I know why my coffee pot won't get coffee really HOT. :)

Lilly Gayle said...

Wow. I knew there were stupid, litigious people in the world, but who knew their claims were THIS wild? Really? Suing a dead man?? And the weather man? Well, my daddy always said you can't idiot-proof the world. A comedian later said it better. You can't fix stupid.

Thanks for an entertaining post.

Samantha Gentry said...

Miriam: It's truly sad and a scary trend. I guess you'll just have to live with the coffee pot not making really 'hot' coffee. You could always put the cup into the microwave for an extra shot of heat...oh, wait a minute. Then the microwave oven manufacturer could be sued...

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Hi, Lilly: Yep, Ron White had that one can't fix stupid.

Thanks for stopping by.

Harlie Reader said...

I just shake my head every time I hear of a stupid lawsuit. Late at night my husband and I count how many lawyer commercials we see.

In one night there were 6 different lawsuits being shown. Unbelievable.

Great post Samantha and I'm still grinning over the ménage lawsuit.


Julie Robinson said...

Thank you for posting this, Samantha. It baffles me how some people can be so stupid. Stupid is as stupid does. Or, more probably, many of these pepole go around looking for things like this to make some money. Most people want other people's money ,either without having to work too hard for it or because it's owed them "through no fault of their own" because they are victims. Or, at least slightly over half of the American population is of this lawsuit/gimme mentality, based on this year's presidential election.

Samantha Gentry said...

Harlie: Me, too, on the threesome. It makes me chuckle, then I just shake my head at how totally preposterous that is.

Thanks for commenting.

Samantha Gentry said...

Julie: For me it's a matter of people refusing to take responsibility for their own choices, decisions, and actions. They want to blame everyone and everything other than themselves.

Thanks for your comment.

Sandra Dailey said...

Great post Samantha. We all know there are people willing to do anything for money. What surprises me is that judges and juries allow them to get away with it.

Samantha Gentry said...

Sandra: I wonder why more of them aren't dismissed by judges as being ridiculous and, as you said, why juries are awarding such unbelievably high payouts. There were some that didn't make it into my blog where the judge greatly reduced the amount of money the jury awarded.

Thanks for commenting.

Julie Robinson said...

I agree, Samantha. With freedom comes personal responsibility. I also agree with your comment as to why these cases are even heard in court. All they do is backlog the real cases. It makes a farce of crimes with real victims. Haven't these people ever hears of common sense?