Sunday, June 21, 2015

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 clogged with this stuff 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 sadly 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 burned her. And, as seems to be the rule today rather than the exception, 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 being irresponsible and foolish.

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. And in a totally insane action (in my humble opinion), the jury actually 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." I 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 didn't happen in the 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 pieces 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 here's one I came across earlier this month. A woman in Spain is suing eBay for $11,000. She claimed she owned the sun and even went to a local court and found a notary who backed up her claim. As the notarized legal owner of the sun, she threatened solar power users saying she was going to charge them. She also started selling land parcels on the sun using eBay. Of course, there is no land on the sun, just gas that's like 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. When her activities came to their attention, eBay shut her down for violating their intangible goods policy. She claimed eBay collected their fee on her sales [people actually paid money for this?] while not giving her money to her.  She's now in the running for most frivolous lawsuit of 2015.

And the beat goes on…


Sandra Dailey said...

It makes you afraid to leave the house. Where do they find the jurors who go along with these claims. I think people who file frivolous suits should be sued.

Samantha Gentry said...

Sandra: That's what I'm wondering, too. Who are these people who give out these huge sums of money to foolish, irresponsible people as a reward for their disdeeds. No wonder so many people refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions. With the exception of Small Claims Court (no lawyers and no jury), the people filing these frivolous lawsuits need to have an attorney do it...perhaps attorneys who take on these lawsuits against companies assuming the company will settle out of court and avoid all the hassle should be fined, too.

Thanks for your comment.

stanalei said...

This falls into the what-happened-to-common-sense category. Thanks for sharing, Samantha.

Anonymous said...

I watched a news documentary on the McDonald's law suit. Was very interesting and showed how it was not just a frivolous suit.

Samantha Gentry said...

Stanalei: You're absolutely right. It does seem that common sense has done a disappearing act.

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Anonymous: I haven't seen or heard anything about the McDonald's lawsuit for quite a while. What new information did the documentary reveal?

Thanks for your comment.

Charlotte Copper said...

The McDonalds one gets me mad every time I think about it!

Samantha Gentry said...

Charlotte: Yes, that jury decision/monetary award was quite an eye opener.

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Samantha this was truly an eye opener. I can't believe that any of these lawsuit were won. amazing.