Civil law serves an important role in protecting citizen rights and preventing negligent individuals from getting away with careless behavior. However, civil law cases often carry a stereotype of frivolity. For example, some individuals try to sue others for anything they believe will earn some extra cash. Unfortunately, legal professionals who pursue ridiculous lawsuits give ethical, reasonable attorneys a bad rap.
The bright side of these frivolous lawsuits is that they often serve as comedic gold inside and outside the justice system. In late 2015, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce published an article on 10 of the most bizarre and frivolous lawsuits from the last 12 months. Here are the top six stories:
- Can monkeys own intellectual property?? In the most bizarre case of the year, the well-known animal rights group PETA filed a federal claim so an Indonesian monkey could retain ownership of his own “selfies.” Courts aren’t currently willing to extend intellectual property rights to monkeys at this time.
- Robber injured while fleeing crime scene sues police. Getting shot while complying with officers may be grounds for a legitimate lawsuit. However, this criminal who took fire after pointing a gun at cops had no such claim. In this case, the fleeing robber turned and aimed his gun at a law enforcement officer before taking two bullets. He sued the sheriff’s department for $6.3 million, although the reasoning for such an extreme amount wasn’t clearly documented.
- Aunt sues child after hug causes injury. A story of an aunt suing her 8-year-old nephew made headlines across the nation in 2015 for its ridiculousness. The woman claimed the child leapt into her arms at a party, causing her to fall and break the bones in her wrist. She sued the boy (not the parents) for $127,000, claiming he should have reasonably understood how much force to use when hugging an adult. She, of course, lost the suit.
- Student sues school after failing a course twice. A nursing student in Pennsylvania experiencing depression and anxiety, unfortunately, failed a required course—twice. The professor and school allegedly offered several remedies to help this student, but to no avail. After failing the course a second time, the student filed a lawsuit against the instructor, the department head, and the school president, citing her mental health as an unaccommodated disability.
- Millennials from New York claim injury over a distant gas explosion. If you’re several blocks away from an explosion, you probably won’t experience any type of significant injury. However, two city slickers decided to file a suit based on a few scratches they sustained after an apartment building explosion occurred in another part of town. The young adults wanted to secure $40 million in damages.
- Inmate in Colorado prison sues NFL. Incarcerated Cowboy fan, Terry Hendrix, sued the NFL for $88 billion after the officials made an incompletion ruling on a one-handed catch by Dez Bryant in a game against the Green Bay Packers. The fan claimed the call made by the officials represented reckless disregard and negligence, among others. While the ruling upset several fans, the general consensus is that it was made in accordance with the rules.
Sometimes truth is stranger—or more frustrating—than fiction. Read the rest of the 10 most frivolous lawsuits published here.
Lawsuits can be completely frivolous, but they’re generally not tolerated by the courts nor pursued by practicing attorneys. Others that appear frivolous at first actually contain clear elements of negligence that warrant a court’s ruling. For more information about pursuing a claim after a serious injury, contact Tiano O’Dell, PLLC for a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer in West Virginia.