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What are Some of the Most Outrageous Lawsuits?

When people are living in a country with a well-established judicial system, they have the opportunity to raise to the courts any injustice for whatever wrongs they see. While most cases are legitimate, sometimes the wrongs being sued at the court are not what most people consider to be unjust. For some, these cases are only caused by a minor inconvenience, but these people want to receive the justice they think they deserve.

The cases are bizarre – most people would even think they are real (or they may be amused that there are people who will actually file those kinds of absurd cases). Here are some of the most outrageously weird lawsuits:

1. Woman sued McDonald’s after being burned by hot coffee

A McDonald’s with McCafe sign

Let’s start this list with the most famous one. Remember Stella Liebeck, who was burned by a hot coffee from McDonald’s? For the longest time, she was the poster girl for ridiculous lawsuits. The 79-year-old spilled a cup of the hot coffee on her lap while sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car. As a result, she suffered from third-degree burns on her inner thighs, groins, and buttocks, and spent seven days in the hospital. She contacted McDonald’s to ask for compensation for her medical bills, but the restaurant chain took her to court after not agreeing to the amount.

The jury’s damages award made headlines because McDonalds was unwilling to correct a policy despite hundreds of people suffering from injuries. Liebeck was awarded the equivalent of two days’ worth of revenue from coffee sales from the restaurant chain. The original punitive damage award was at $2.7 million but was reduced by more than 80% by the judge. But since both parties appealed, they settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.  While it seemed frivolous, this case tackled a serious concern. Ms. Liebeck was mocked mercilessly, but after some years, the people realized how terrible her injuries were and how little she actually demanded from the company.

2. Man wants to change his age legally

At a time when legal changes to a person’s name and gender are becoming common, a man from the Netherlands sued for the right to change age. A Dutchman named Emile Ratelband made headlines for the lawsuit, which he filed because his real age was affecting his job and his chances of success on Tinder. The man claimed that he had the looks of a 49-year-old man, so he wanted to cut his age by 20 years officially.

His lawsuit was quickly dropped as the judge explained that many rights and obligations are age-based, and changing the legal age can cause harmful precedents and complications.

3. Woman sued Jelly Belly because it contains sugar.

Sugar comes in many names, so it stands to reason that some people may not recognize the ingredient when reading the product labels. In 2017, a mind-blowing lawsuit was filed by a California woman, when she felt misled by the term “evaporated cane juice.” Jessica Gomez sued Jelly Belly for alleged fraud for using that term instead of “sugar” in the label. She claims that the jelly bean maker is misleading consumers, even when the total grams of sugar per serving were clearly listed in the nutrition facts. Also, she thought that the candies were sugar-free and that it was a healthier snack option.

The candy company called the lawsuit “nonsense,” and they urged the courts to drop the case. The case was easily dismissed after the plaintiff failed to show facts specific to their purchase, and their reliance on advertising.

4. Parents sue son for overstaying at home.

For some cultures, a jobless adult child can still be welcome in his parent’s house, but he may need to bear hearing the “get a job” message every now and then. But for a New York couple, this is unacceptable. In 2018, Mark and Christina Rotondo took their 30-year-old son to court in the hope that a judge would force him to move out of their house. Their son Michael was jobless and is accused of mooching. The parents sent their son a series of eviction notices and even offered more than $1,000 to help him get a new place. But all these failed, so the parents filed for the court.

The judge eventually sided with the couple and ordered Michael to vacate their home.

5. Man sues date for being on her phone the whole time.

A lot of people have stories of dates gone wrong, but most would simply try to forget about it, maybe have a drink, then move on. But a 37-year-old man from Texas would not let go of his bad experience and sued his date because she spent the time they were at the movies texting on her phone. When he complained of her behavior, she walked out of the screening of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. Brandon Vezmar claimed that his date’s behavior was breaking theater rules and affected his movie-watching. He even called it his “first date from hell.”

Vezmar filed a lawsuit against the woman, hoping to get back the $17.31 he spent on the movies. The woman eventually gave him the money back so he would drop the whole thing. Soon after, Vezmar withdrew the lawsuit.

6. Customer sues Subway because a footlong sandwich isn’t a foot long

One of the most famous examples of outrageous lawsuits about false advertising is when a customer measured his Subway footlong sandwich in 2013. A teenager who measured the sandwich claims that the bread is only 11 inches, an inch too short. A class-action lawsuit was filed.

It took four years to finally settle, and the company promised to make its rolls 12 inches. The people who benefited from the case were the attorneys, who were about to receive more money than the actual plaintiffs. The judge agreed with a legal activist who said it wasn’t fair and dismissed the settlement and the entire case.

7. Consumers sue candy maker for underfilling Junior Mints boxes

We all experienced eating a bag of chips or a box of candy, wherein after opening, you realize that it contains more empty space than the actual food. But a group of angry customers from New York and Mississippi took it to the next level. These people believed that the Tootsie Roll Industries is tricking people by leaving about one-third of every Junior Mints box empty. The sued the company because of that complaint.

A judge dismissed the case and threw out the claim. That judge even wrote a 44-page decision saying that a reasonable customer must expect some space inside each box.

8. Customers sued Red Bull because it doesn’t “give them wings”

Any advertising department of a company needs to think hard about their slogans because they can be sued because of any false claims. This is a rare example of this situation. You’re probably familiar with Red Bull’s slogan that the energy drink “gives you wings.” This statement obviously isn’t meant to be taken literally, but still, it got the company in some trouble. The plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit, accusing the company of false claims and misleading ads. Reportedly, the plaintiffs did not receive “wings” – figuratively speaking – because they did not feel energized. They expected the energy drink to give them some physical performance boost.

Red Bull actually agreed to settle the lawsuit for $13 million. They even offered every unsatisfied customer to get either a check for $10 or a certificate for $15 worth of Red Bull drinks.

9. Firefighter claims fear of fire a disability

Disability claims are not a light matter, but this one made people roll their eyes. A firefighter in Texas named Shayn Proler sued the Houston Fire Department, where he was working in because he is afraid of fire, making him unable to do the job. After a poor performance in combating multiple fires, he was demoted to an office position so he would not have to come in direct contact with the fire. However, he wanted to remain his position and claimed that his fear of fire was a disability, resulting in him being discriminated against.

A jury sided with the man, giving him $362,000 in damages. But when his case reached the Texas Supreme Court, the judge disagreed with the jury and ruled that there was no evidence that the man was discriminated against on account of his “disability,” and that he wasn’t considered as “disabled” under the protection of ADA.

10. Kidnapper sues victims for escaping

Shameless, right? But fugitives are known to do some desperate acts to stay out of jail. Jesse Dimmick, a fugitive facing a murder charge, broke into a Kansas couple’s home and held them at knifepoint. When the couple escaped because he fell asleep, they sued Dimmick for over $75,000 in damages.

Dimmick’s response was to sue the couple back for breach of contract. He reasoned that he and the couple had a legally binding oral agreement that they will hide him from the police in return for money. A judge dismissed this lawsuit.

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