Just in Time for Halloween-
More Scary Lawsuits

Journey with us into the macabre, the bizarre, and the scary. All it takes is a short trip to the local courthouse.

It’s Halloween again, and Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) is unmasking some of the scariest lawsuits that made news so far this year.

“Don’t bother hiding under the covers,” said Jon Opelt, Director of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. “There’s no way to escape the fact that these lawsuits are out there, and you’re paying for them. Have a good laugh, or have a good scream, but remember this: every one of these lawsuits is a true story.”

It wasn’t a ghost, just a flying T-shirt: (Burbank, CA). A man in the audience to watch “The Tonight Show” sued the show, NBC and Jay Leno after he was struck in the face with a souvenir T-shirt. Claiming pain and suffering, disability, lost wages, emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment, the man asked for $25,000.

( Los Angeles Times, online edition, December 5, 1999)

A victim of the “witches brew”: (Las Vegas, NV). A California man sued the Las Vegas Hilton and Mandalay Bay Hotel Casino claiming the casinos were negligent in allowing him to gamble away more than $1 million while drunk. He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and he wants the casinos to be precluded from seeking to prosecute him criminally.

( Las Vegas Sun, January 12, 2000)

Attack of the Killer Sneakers: (New York, NY). A woman sued Nike earlier this year claiming that her sneakers caused her to fall while running and permanently injure her wrist. She sued for $10 million, claiming negligence, product liability and breach of warranty.

(Reuters, April 6, 2000)

Next time try lightning. It worked for Dr. Frankenstein when he needed to jump-start a brain: (Tampa, FL). After a round of drinks, a Florida man climbed up a transformer tower. He was shocked by 13,000 volts of electricity and thrown nearly 40 feet. He then sued six bars and stores that “negligently served or sold him alcohol.” He also sued the Tampa Electric company, saying the utility didn’t do enough to prevent him from breaking into the fenced, gated and locked substation and scaling the transformer.

(Reuters, March 3, 2000)

Wrath of the snake woman: (Santa Ana, CA). A local telephone company erroneously listed an attorney’s name under “Reptiles.” It was an error that became the source of jokes everywhere from local newspapers to Jay Leno. Being of something less than good humor, the attorney filed a libel lawsuit seeking $100,000 in damages from the phone company.

( Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2000)

Cancel Halloween, “fright” really is a cause of action: (New York, NY). After experiencing 28 seconds of turbulence on an airline flight, 12 passengers heaved up a lawsuit over their “fear of dying.” They won $2 million.

( Miami Herald, July 25, 2000)

Speaking of Dr. Frankenstein and misplaced body parts: (New York, NY). A New York jury awarded a former exotic dancer $30,000 to compensate her for the “anguish” she suffered when a doctor used silicone breast implants to enlarge her buttocks. The doctor claims he did everything by the book. The plaintiff said, “I looked like I had two (breasts) on my butt.”

(Associated Press, June 12, 2000)

Haunted by Lawsuits: (London and Tennessee). Six years after the famous McDonalds “hot coffee lawsuit” made the U.S. civil justice system the laughingstock of the world, McDonalds has remained a favorite target of lawsuits over food mishaps. In London, several McDonalds customers are suing over hot coffee, hot tea and even hot water. In Tennessee, it was a pickle that did the damage, as a woman and her husband sued the restaurant for $125,000 after a hot pickle from a hamburger fell on her chin. The husband is demanding $15,000 for “loss of consortium”. In other words, the abrasion from the hot pickle put their love life in a deep freeze.

(Reuters, August 2, 2000 and The Los Angeles Times, October 8, 2000)

Phantom disk drive problems: (Beaumont). A federal court in Beaumont gave final approval to a $2.1 billion settlement in a class action lawsuit against Toshiba Corp. The suit claimed the company produced a flawed disk drive that can potentially cause data loss. However, no consumer has ever claimed any actual harm – or lost data. The Texas lawyers who filed the case pocketed $147.5 million. Toshiba laptop owners are getting coupons, cash, and hardware or software replacements to repair the alleged defect.

(Associated Press, February 2, 2000)

“Bizarre lawsuits often produce a good laugh. But their effect can be frightening,’ Opelt said. “Sure we have a right to sue but it is not a right to be taken lightly by judges, jurors or the attorneys who consider such cases.”

According to the American Tort Reform Association, the cost of lawsuits amounts to an “invisible tax” of $1,200 per household.

For more weird and wacky lawsuits check out “Best of the Bizarre.”

Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

2500 City West Boulevard, Suite 300 • Houston, Texas 77042
E-mail: sosueme@ • Administrative: (713) 267-2302 • Fax: (713) 267-2267