Culture

8 Most Absurd Lawsuits of 2015

And we still have a month and a half to go.

Photo Credit: Everett Collection/Shutterstock.com

The videotaped sight, in October this year, of Hungarian camerawoman Petra Laszlo deliberately tripping refugees and their children as they rushed past her was beyond shocking. The video went viral and Laszlo apologized for her actions, sort of, claiming that, contrary to appearances, she is not a monster. She claimed she was frightened by all the panicked refugees and was instinctively protecting herself. The images, however, tell another story. The video became an Internet sensation and social media condemned Laszlo as basically the worst person on Earth. Her subsequent actions pretty much confirmed that; she decided to sue not only Facebook, for neglecting to take down worldwide criticism of her footwork; she also filed a suit against one of the refugees she tripped! According to Laszlo, the man slanderously changed his story, first blaming the police for tripping him, then identifying the camerawoman (presumably after he saw videos of her tripping him and kicking him). Laszlo’s reasoning? "My husband wants to prove my innocence. For him, it is now a matter of honor.” Huh.

Laszlo’s lawsuit may win the award for Most Callous Waste of Court Time this year. But there have been no shortage of eye-popping lawsuits in 2015. Here are eight of the most ridiculous lawsuits filed this year. 

1. Worst aunt ever.

Jennifer Connell arrived at the eighth birthday party of her nephew Sean, who, overjoyed to see her, leapt into her arms. Connell, apparently not expecting such affection, fell backward and broke her wrist. Like any loving aunt, Connell decided to sue her 8-year-old nephew for $127,000 for “negligence and carelessness” because the boy “should have known that a forceful greeting such as the one delivered by the defendant to the plaintiff could cause the harms and losses suffered by the plaintiff.” Don’t they teach kids anything these days? It seems poor Aunt Jennifer suffered greatly, pointing out that at a party she attended afterward, she was unable to hold her hors d’oeuvre dish without great difficulty. The jury listened to her heart-wrenching story, deliberated for 20 minutes and awarded her nothing. Connell later said her insurance company had forced her to sue.

2. The great pain robbery.

Todd Kirkpatrick is bad at his job, which happens to be “bank robber.” Todd was in the middle of his heist in Snohomish County, Washington in 2012, when he was inconveniently interrupted by a sheriff’s deputy. Doing what crappy bank robbers do, he ran. He then turned and pointed his gun at the officer, Dan Scott, who unsurprisingly felt threatened and fired his own firearm twice, wounding Kirkpatrick and landing him first in the hospital and then in the hoosegow (the Clallam Bay Corrections Center). Hoping perhaps to improve on his predicament (he got 17 years for robbery with a firearm), Kirkpatrick sued the county for $6.3 million—$300,000 for medical bills, and the rest because the other cops at the scene failed to stop Scott from “trying to execute” him. No resolution to the suit yet, but it is telling that shortly after the incident, Scott was named 2012 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs. Coincidence? We don’t think so.

3. Beck’s: The German Beer that’s not German.

Beck’s is a popular beer that originated in Germany in 1873. In 2012, that quintessential American brewmeister, Anheuser Busch (the makers of Budweiser, the King of Beers), bought Beck’s and decided to save a few bucks (well, $9 million bucks) and concoct Beck’s brewskis in St. Louis. One problem, however. They didn’t tell Beck’s fans that their German beer wasn’t technically German anymore. Nothing on the label indicated that Beck’s was now the best St. Louis, Missouri (not Bremen, Germany) could offer. Some lawyers smelled a payday and filed a class action suit against Anheuser Busch. Settled this year, Beck’s fans who have imbibed since 2012 can now claim up to $50 a person. The lawyers got a bit more than that…$3.5 million. We’re betting they are enjoying a nice cold one right about now.

4. Woman sues self.

In 2011, Barbara Bagley was involved in a tragic accident that killed her husband. Driving their Range Rover in Nevada, she struck some sagebrush, flipped the car, and her husband was thrown from the vehicle, later dying of his injuries. This year, Bagley found a novel way to avoid paying off her husband’s creditors with money that would come from her husband’s estate (which she inherited). She’s suing herself for wrongful death, claiming negligence while driving. If she wins her suit against herself, and finds herself legally negligent, then her insurance company will pay the creditors, instead of payment coming from the estate. If she wins, in essence, Bagley will collect money from herself for her own negligence. Nice. Lawyers are attempting to throw the suit out.

5. Don’t mess with a Cowboys fan.

Last year in an NFL playoff game, star Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Dez Bryant made a miracle catch for a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers that seemingly propelled the “Boys” to the championship game. Much to the horror of Cowboys fans, however, the referees took another look at the catch on videotape and ruled that Bryant had trapped the ball, not caught it. Terry Hendrix, a Dallas Cowboy fan and a prisoner in a Colorado correctional facility, decided he wasn’t going to take this injustice lying down. Hendrix filed an $88 billion lawsuit against the NFL and its referees, alleging “negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and also reckless disregard.” Speculation is he arrived at that number because Bryant’s uniform number is 88.

6. The Hamburglar stumbles.

Selena Edwards must have read about all those lawsuits alleging pain and suffering for burns caused by McDonald’s scalding hot coffee, and she must have felt there was gold in them there Styrofoam cups. Edwards sued McDonald’s for $10,000 for the second-degree burns she claimed she suffered when a cup of Mickey D’s coffee spilled on her hand. As proof, she submitted photos and medical documents showing the severity of her burns. While there might have been some merit to these lawsuits, there was one problem—turns out, upon insurance investigation, Edwards’ photos of her burnt hand weren’t hers. They were grabbed from the Internet. Edwards is now facing 21 counts of felony insurance fraud and workers’ comp fraud. Guess she really did get burned.

7. Mila Kunis’ game of Chicken.

Twenty-five years ago, Mila Kunis, award-winning star of Black Swan and wife of Twitter fanatic Ashton Kutcher, was just a cute first-grader in Ukraine. But Mila’s criminal past has finally caught up with her. It seems her childhood friend, Ukraine singer Kristina Karo, is claiming Mila was envious of Kristina possessing a pet chicken, and in a moment of jealousy, stole the clucker. Now, 25 years later, Kristina is seeking restitution, suing Kunis for $5000 for the emotional pain she suffered after this fowl crime. Kunis denies the larceny. “I would never steal someone else’s chicken. I wouldn’t!” She is fighting back, claiming she will countersue Karo, who recently released a music video. “I would like to launch a counter $5,000 lawsuit for sitting there making me watch your music video!”

8. Dog with super bark powers.

It’s annoying when your neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking. We get that. But is it half a million dollars worth of annoyance? Apparently it is to Woodrow Thompson, who sued his neighbor Denise Norton for $500,000 because her dog Cawper wouldn’t stop barking. According to Thompson, Cawper has a "super bark.” He claimed in his lawsuit that Cawper’s bark was measured at 128 decibels through his double-paned glass windows. To put that in perspective, that would be louder than a clap of thunder and almost as loud as a military jet taking off (according to experts at Purdue University). Pretty ridiculous, thought Norton, who ignored the lawsuit. Bad move, since her failure to appear in court resulted in the verdict going in favor of Thompson. Norton, now taking it a bit more seriously, is trying to get the verdict overturned. 

Larry Schwartz is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with a focus on health, science and American history. 
 
 
Stay Ahead of the Rest
Sign Up for AlterNet's Daily Newsletter
+ sign up for additional lists
[x]
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Rights & Liberties
Education
Drugs
Economy
Environment
Labor
Food
World
Politics
Investigation
Personal Health
Water
Media