Dec 31, 2014 - 12:45pm

The 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2014


Senior Editor, Digital Content

From a Little League coach suing a player to a woman claiming that an animated movie was actually based on her life to a man suing for more than all the money on earth, 2014 has had many examples of lawsuit abuse.

Lisa Rickard, president of the Institute for Legal Reform, said, “As a country, we simply sue too much.”

In fact, the collective toll that abusive lawsuits take on our society and our economy is no laughing matter. Lawsuits should be a last resort, not a first option.

America’s lawsuit culture has given us the world’s most expensive legal system. This is especially burdensome for small businesses. Dealing with lawsuits cost them $105 billion every year. Reforms that uphold justice and prevent frivolous lawsuits are needed more than ever.

Here are the ten most ridiculous lawsuits of 2014, according to the Institute.

1. Plaintiff in Pending Disability Lawsuit Topples Huge, Historic Boulder

One of the men responsible for toppling an, “ancient boulder in Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park,” was found to have filed a personal injury lawsuit just a few weeks prior to the incident. In that lawsuit, he claimed he suffered from, “serious, permanent and debilitating injuries.”

Video of Glenn Taylor shoving the huge rock off a slender pedestal where it rested for millions of years went viral online and attracted media scrutiny.

2. Little League Coach Sues Player Over Celebratory Helmet Toss

A little leaguer who threw his helmet in the air to celebrate after scoring a winning run is now being sued by his former coach.  The coach alleges the helmet tore his Achilles’ tendon and is suing for $500,000 (although he thought his attorney was only asking for $20,000).

3. New York Man Sues for More Money Than Exists on Earth

The New York Post reports that, “A Manhattan man has sued the city, NYC Transit, Au Bon Pain Store, two local hospitals, Kmart” and a dog owner – for two undecillion dollars.

The man reportedly filed the lawsuit, which was hand-scribbled, in Manhattan federal court seeking more money than even exists on the planet. The Post reports that this likely sets, “a new record for a lawsuit money demand.”

4. Rescuers Sued by Man They Pulled from Floodwaters

Area rescue workers saved Roy Ortiz’s life during the Denver-area floods last September.

Their reward for risking their lives?

A proposed lawsuit for $500,000! Ortiz claims that his pleas were ignored while trapped upside-down in his car during the historic Colorado rainfall.

5. CA Town Victimized by Plaintiffs’ Attorney Who Has Filed More Than 3,000 Lawsuits

The Manteca Bulletin in Manteca, CA reports that “more than three dozen businesses in Manteca had been served with [Americans with Disabilities Act] lawsuits,” including two restaurants — the Barnwood Restaurant and Main Street Inn — that are being forced to close their doors as a result of the lawsuits.

[T]he Bulletin reported that “Scott Johnson, the Carmichael lawyer behind the Manteca ADA lawsuits, has filed more than 3,000 such lawsuits.”

6. New York City Woman Spooked by “Dexter” Ad Sues Transit Authority and Showtime for Subway Fall

A New York City woman is suing public transportation after she was startled by an advertisement for the Showtime murder series “Dexter,” causing her to take a tumble down the stairs at Grand Central Terminal.

At the time, the woman had lost track of her husband and was walking back up the stairwell, when the poster allegedly caused her trip and fall.

The image, which features a close up of “Dexter” star Michael C. Hall with cellophane covering his face was allegedly “shocking and menacing,” the lawsuit says, leading to the plaintiff’s injury and subsequent nightmares that necessitated visits with a psychiatrist.

7. Baseball Fan Caught Sleeping on Camera, Sues ESPN for $10 Million

A man has filed a $10 million lawsuit against ESPN and its announcers for ” defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, contending he was mocked while caught sleeping in his seat during a national telecast at Yankee Stadium.”

Andrew Robert Rector says in court documents he “napped” during a Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees game on April 13, but claims commentators Dan Shulman and John Kruk unleashed an “avalanche of disparaging words” against him. The suit says they used words like “fatty” and “stupid.”

According to Rector’s lawsuit, he suffered “substantial injury” to his “character and reputation” and “mental anguish, loss of future income and loss of earning capacity.”

“The comments attributed to ESPN and our announcers were clearly not said in our telecast,” an ESPN spokesperson said. “The claims presented here are wholly without merit.”

8. Minimum Wage for Court-Ordered Community Service?

Should New Yorkers who are ordered to perform community service for alleged violations be paid minimum wage for their “service”?

That’s the contention of a new lawsuit filed by Brooklyn, NY attorney Andrew Stoll, who contends that this unpaid “community service” (such as picking up trash in city parks (is a violation of state wage and hour laws).

Thousands of cases are settled with community service (via an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal) in New York City every year.  Stoll has filed his class action lawsuit on behalf of two New Yorkers – one an alleged subway turnstyle-jumper and another who allegedly had an illegal weapon in his car. He says those who perform community service are being exploited, likening their work to unpaid internships or, “a maid who is given free lodging but no salary.”

9. Jimmy John’s Lawsuit “Sprouts” Hefty Payday for Lawyers but Only Vouchers for Victims

California resident Heather Starks really likes her alfalfa sprouts. So much, in fact, that she’s brought a national class action lawsuit against national restaurant chain Jimmy John’s “claiming that a sandwich she ordered was supposed to contain sprouts but did not.”

Jimmy John’s has agreed to a class action settlement in which the company will provide vouchers for a $1.40, which is the approximate price of a bag of chips, pickle or cookie. The vouchers will total “up to a maximum of $725,000 less the actual costs of the settlement administration.”

The plaintiffs’ attorneys in the case, at the Malibu, CA-based law firm of Shenkman & Hughes, will receive a hefty $370,000.

10. Woman Sues Disney for $250 Million, Claims “Frozen” Stolen From Her Life’s Story

A woman is suing the Walt Disney Corporation for $250 million, claiming the blockbuster movie, Frozen, was actually stolen from her life story.

That’s right – according to author Isabella Tanikumi, the storyline for Frozen was plucked not from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Snow Queen, but rather from her autobiography, Yearnings of the Heart.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.