History

The Most Frivolous Lawsuits In Recent History

We live in a litigious world - one filled with people looking for any excuse to blame their mistakes, problems, or minor shortcomings on large companies or the government. It seems like people will sue at the drop of a hat these days, but what are the silliest lawsuits of all time? From spilled coffee to scary Halloween attractions to a Michael Jordan look-alike - the cases on this list include some rather frivolous claims.

One person tried to sue himself and then talk the government into paying the rewards he owed - to himself! Sometimes, though, it isn't large companies being sued; they're the ones doing the suing. Viacom even sued a deceased woman in connection with illegal downloads.

Here are some lawsuits that may sound silly, but many of the plaintiffs actually managed to win and collect some major cash in the process. All those dollars may just be the best reasons to go to court in some cases!

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  • A Concert-Goer Sued A Park For Not Labeling Restrooms Well Enough

    In March 1995, while attending a Billy Joel and Elton John concert at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, CA, Robert Glaser felt nature calling and went to relieve himself. Little did he know that the restrooms at the stadium were unisex. When he got there, he found a shocking sight: a woman using a urinal. This traumatized Glaser and turned his wee problem into a big one.

    He walked the entire stadium to find a place to pee in peace, but all he found were women in the restrooms. Upset at the idea that one of them would suddenly pull down their pants and crouch over the urinals, or that he was in a ladies' restroom and therefore "breaking rules," Glaser resolved to hold it in for four hours. 

    The "emotional distress" and "embarrassment" he said he suffered were later used as complaints in the lawsuit he filed against the stadium and the city of San Diego for $5.4 million. He lost, and to this day, women can still choose to use urinals at Jack Murphy Stadium.

  • A Man Sued Michael Jordan For Looking Like Him

    Allen Heckard would like you to know he is not Michael Jordan. And he would appreciate if you stop calling him that. Using his own legal words, the years spent dealing with "defamation, permanent injury, and emotional pain and suffering" of being mistaken for His Airness proved to be too much for this plaintiff - who's nearly a decade older, and many inches short than, the real Michael Jordan. 

    In 2006, the Oregon resident sued Jordan for $416 million for stealing his likeness. He also sued Nike for the same amount because it made Jordan one of the most recognizable men in the world. Why $416 million each?

    “Well, you figure with my age and you multiply that by seven and, ah, then I turn around and, ah, I figure that’s what it all boils down to,” Heckard explained, after paying a $206 fee to file the case. He had no lawyer to help him, but did have enough money and legal rights to file the case and bring it to a judge. He eventually dropped the charges, however. 

  • A Police Officer Sued Taser International Because Its Tasers Looked Too Similar To Her Firearm

    In October 2002 in Madera, CA, police responded to a disturbance call, arrested Everardo Torres, handcuffed him and brought him to the backseat of a police vehicle. He wasn't interested in going quietly, however; he attempted to kick out the windows and doors and wrestle himself free from the handcuffs and the grips of the officers subduing him. At that point, officer Marcy Noriega took out her Taser to subdue Torres.

    It worked - sort of. The only problem was that Noriega didn't actually use her Taser; she instead mistakenly took out her police-issue handgun and lethally shot Torres in the chest. His relatives initiated a lawsuit with dual plaintiffs: Noriega and the City of Madera. In turn, the city and Noriega sued Taser International, claiming its devices looked too similar to police handguns, and that the company didn't provide enough information to the Madera Police Department about how Tasers can be mistaken for handguns. 

    After a drawn-out trial process, a federal court judge dismissed the suit of Madera and Noriega against Taser International. The city ended up paying damages of $775,000 to Torres's family.

  • The Music Industry Tried To Sue A Deceased Person

    In a way, you have to feel bad for the Recording Industry Association of America. Ever since the internet arrived in people's homes, they've been pirating away the once-lucrative profits that came from selling records, tapes, and CDs - with pretty much no one able to stop them.

    All that's left is the law. RIAA lawsuits have increased threefold, and apparently it doesn't take much to get sued by them. Even the smallest or most insignificant detail can convince the RIAA to press charges, such as when the organization accused 83-year-old West Virginian Gertrude Walton of making more than 700 songs available to illegally download on the internet. Despite testimonials from her daughter that Walton hated computers, and being sent her official death certificate as a response to the warning letter, the RIAA still decided Walton deserved to be sued.

    Walton was not available to retaliate or defend herself, since at the time she was interred at Greenwood Memorial Park. Ultimately, RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy went on the record to state: "We will now, of course, obviously dismiss this case."