While frivolous lawsuits aren't uncommon in today's litigious environment, some stand out because they are so preposterous. Here are seven examples.
The $67 Million Pants
In 2005, an administrative law judge in Washington D.C. took a pair of pants to a local dry cleaner for alterations. When the judge went to retrieve the pants a few days later, he discovered they weren't there. The business owners, a couple named Chung, had inadvertently sent them to the wrong location. The pants were soon located but the judge claimed they weren't his and refused to accept them.
The judge then sued the dry cleaners for $67 million. He claimed the Chungs had failed to honor a "satisfaction guaranteed" sign displayed at the store . He also contended that in failing to honor the guarantee the Chungs had committed seven separate violations of Washington D.C.'s consumer protection law. A D.C. court disagreed and ruled in favor of the Chungs. The judge appealed but ultimately lost the case. His term as a judge expired in 2007, and he was not re-appointed.
That Ad Was Just Too Scary!
In 2014, a New York woman sued Showtime Networks, CBS Outdoor Americas, the City of New York, and two transit authorities for an injury she sustained in a fall triggered by a scary poster. The woman claimed she was on a staircase in Grand Central Terminal when she spotted an ad for the TV show "Dexter." The ad featured a photo of Michael C. Hall, who plays a serial killer on the show, with his face covered by cellophane.
The woman alleged that the image was a "shockvertisement" that was so disturbing it caused her to fall down the stairs. She claimed the defendants were liable for injuries she sustained to her right foot and ankle.
The defendants argued that they had no duty to protect the woman from the ad, her reaction to it was unforeseeable, and they weren't responsible for her fall. The judge ultimately agreed. He dismissed the case based on the woman's failure to present a cause of action.
You Infringed On the Patent I Didn't Have!
A magician named David Roller sued the illusionist David Copperfield for patent infringement. Mr. Roller alleged that he had patented his godly powers and that Mr. Copperfield had used them without his permission. In reality, Mr. Roller had neither applied for nor obtained a patent on his divine powers.
When Mr. Copperfield filed a motion to dismiss the suit, contending that no patent existed, Mr. Roller filed an amended complaint. This time he alleged that Mr. Copperfield and several other individuals had conspired to murder him. The court noted that the plaintiff hadn't cited any facts to support his claim and that he had a long history of filing frivolous suits, including previous claims against Mr. Copperfield. The court dismissed Mr. Roller's suit and barred him from filing any similar claims in the future.
But My Fantasies Never Came True!
A Michigan man sued Anheuser-Busch for allegedly violating the state's pricing and advertising act. According to the lawsuit, the brewing company placed ads containing images of beautiful women and tropical settings. The ads were deceptive and misleading because they implied that a person's fantasies could become reality. They also enticed the plaintiff and other members of the public to drink the company's products. Anheuser-Busch knew its products were potentially dangerous as they could lead to addiction and other health problems. The plaintiff sought more than $10,000 in damages for physical and mental injury, emotional distress, and financial loss.
A trial court didn't buy the man's claims and ruled in favor of Anheuser-Busch. An appellate court agreed. It determined that the images in the ads weren't fraudulent but were simply puffing. It also found that the brewery had no duty to warn the plaintiff since the risks of alcoholic beverages are widely known.
There's Still Lip Balm in the Tube!
A California woman sued Fresh Inc., the manufacturer of Sugar Lip Treatment lip balm. She alleged that Fresh deceived consumers about the amount of balm contained in its tubes of lip treatment. Her suit claimed that consumers could access only 75 percent of the lip balm in each tube. The remaining 25 percent remained at the bottom of the tube and could not be applied "in the intended manner" (from the tube to the lips). Her lawsuit accused Fresh of unjust enrichment and violating three state consumer protection laws.
A district court dismissed the case and an appeals court affirmed. The appeals court ruled that the product label accurately described the amount of lip balm in each tube. Moreover, consumers could decide whether it was worth their while to dig out the remaining balm with a finger or a small tool.
There's Air in That Box of Candy!
A Missouri man attempted to initiate a class-action lawsuit against the Hershey Company, claiming the boxes of Reese's Pieces and Whoppers candies he'd purchased contained too much air. The man had been buying the candies for at least a decade and the amount of air in the boxes hadn't changed. Still, he filed a lawsuit claiming that Hershey had violated Missouri's consumer protection law. He also accused the company of unjust enrichment.
The judge dismissed the case, contending that the plaintiff had failed to prove he'd been injured. The plaintiff had also failed to prove that Hershey had obtained any unfair benefit.
You Mean Iced Drinks Actually Contain Ice?
In 2016, an Illinois man sued Starbucks for misrepresenting the amount of liquid contained in its cold drinks. The man alleged that Starbucks cheated customers by adding ice to cold beverages, thereby reducing the amount of liquid contained in the cups. His suit sought damages for numerous offenses, including fraud, breach of express warranty, unjust enrichment, and violations of various state consumer protection laws.
A federal judge dismissed the case, determining that the plaintiff had failed to prove Starbucks' advertising was deceptive. The judge agreed with Starbucks' argument that a reasonable consumer who orders an iced drink expects the drink to contain both liquid and ice.