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!

Photo: Marco Verch Professional Photographer / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

  • A Mother And Daughter Were Frightened By Costumed Monsters At A Theme Park - On Halloween

    Shannon Sacco and her teenage daughter were apparently underprepared for the 2018 Halloween festivities at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, PA. Sacco's daughter, not wanting to be scared, allegedly asked the park's costumed monsters not to bother her. 

    When they persisted, she fell over in a fright and reportedly sustained injures - the details of which were not released to the public. The pair sought $150,000 in damages; it's unclear how the case turned out.

  • A Couple Got Sued Because Of Emojis They Used In A Text Message

    An Israeli couple had to pay more than $2,000 for an apartment they never rented - thanks to emojis!

    In June 2016, the couple contacted a landlord they found online about their interest in an apartment. During their text conversations, the couple used various smiley faces, as well as other emojis, like a champagne bottle and a peace sign. Because of this, the landlord thought the couple was sincerely interested and took his property off the market.

    They weren't as interested as the landlord assumed. When they backed out, he took them to court for the month's rent he lost, and a judge ruled he had every right to do so: 

    Although this message did not constitute a binding contract between the parties, this message naturally led to the Plaintiff's great reliance on the defendants' desire to rent his apartment.

  • A Woman Sued Starbucks For Using Too Much Ice

    A Chicago java lover got fed up with her watered-down iced coffees from Starbucks, and decided to sue the company over it. According to the court documents brought on behalf of Stacy Pincus: 

    Plaintiff alleges that… Starbucks has engaged in the practice of misrepresenting the amount of Cold Drink a customer will receive. As a result of this practice, Starbucks’ Cold Drinks contain significantly less product than advertised, by design and corporate practice and procedure.

    Getting cheated on your "cold drink" is no laughing matter. The complaint argues that standard practice at Starbucks is to fill a venti-sized container until just above the head of the siren on the logo, then fill the rest with ice. That means customers are getting somewhere around 14 ounces of coffee instead of the 24 ounces that fit in the cup.

    For its part, Starbucks says that customers can always ask for less ice. 

  • A Beer Drinker Sued Foster's For Convincing Him The Beer Was Australian

    New York resident Leif Nelson sued Foster's in late 2015 for deceiving him. Apparently, all their beer ads featuring kangaroos and Australian flags misled him to believe his beloved beverage was brewed down under. In fact, Foster's is brewed in Texas, and has been since 2011.

    Nelson says he'll resume drinking his favorite beer when the company properly labels its cans and bottles, and stops falsely advertising its beer as Australian.  

  • Hellmann's Owner Sued The Competition For Using The Word 'Mayo'

    According to Unilever (Hellmann's parent company), federal regulators specifically define mayonnaise as a spread that contains eggs. That's why Unilever was unhappy in late 2016 that a competitor tried to pass off an egg-free version as the real stuff.

    The “Just Mayo” made by Hampton Creek used plant products instead of chicken eggs in its spread. It its lawsuit, Unilever contended that by calling the decidedly non-eggy product "Just Mayo," Hampton Creek participated in false advertising and stole the market share that was rightfully Hellmann's. 

    "Consumers and cooks have an expectation that mayonnaise should both taste and perform like mayonnaise. ‘Just Mayo’ does neither," the complaint states.

    Hampton Creek's CEO Josh Tetrick didn't seem to think it was a big deal: 

    Today it's mayo, tomorrow it's a cookie ... next year it will be pasta. Maybe we'll see big cookie and big pasta lawsuits against us next.

  • A Traveler Sued British Airways For Sending Him To Grenada, Not Granada

    Geography is tough. In 2014, American dentist Edward Gamson planned himself a trip to the beautiful city of Granada, in the south of Spain. He was especially excited in the trip due to his lifelong interest in Islamic art and his Spanish Jewish heritage. Despite his insistence with his travel agent that he wanted to visit Granada, Spain, imagine his surprise when he ended up on a nine-hour flight to the Caribbean island of Grenada.

    When British Airways refused to reimburse Gamson and his partner for their first-class tickets, he sued the airline for $34,000 in damages; this was to cover the seven flights Gamson and his partner had to take to resolve the situation, along with the cost of his lost wages during the extended “trip.”

    Lesson learned: always double-check your spelling (and maybe a map) when booking travel.