Bizarre. That’s the first word that comes to mind when you take a look at these absurd lawsuits filed over the decades. Would a lot of them even be possible today? What were these people thinking? Are brands constantly dragged to legal battlefields thanks to the ingenious ideas originating in the minds of their customers?
Try painting a picture of a serious courtroom and sincere debates with any of these cases. Law is a serious matter but these cases probably just give it the occasional dose of humour, leaving behind amused judges and entertained audiences. Check them out.
1. McDonald’s couldn’t have imagined that a cup of coffee could cost them $2.7 million someday. It all happened when 79-year-old Stella Liebeck spilt a takeout coffee all over her lap. This led to third-degree burns, 8 days in the hospital and 2 years of medical treatment. Liebeck filed a lawsuit against the fast food chain, initially asking only for the $800 spent on her skin grafting. Her offer was turned down. During the progress of the case, it was revealed that more than 700 customer complaints had been made regarding the dangerously hot temperatures of McDonald’s coffee. Liebeck won the case and became quite the media sensation.
As for McDonald’s, it was a classic case of burrrrnn.
2. Imagine what’ll happen if we all started taking advertising literally.
It might not end that well. In 1991, a man called Richard Overton sued Anheuser-Busch, an American brewing company and the largest beer producer in the world, in a case of misleading advertising for $10,000. All because even after downing a six-pack of Bud Light, he failed to see bikini-clad babes chilling at a breezy beach, as shown in the company’s commercial. Guess he had a hard time telling fantasy from reality. The case was obviously dismissed.
3. Another recent lawsuit due to wrongful advertising saw a woman suing KFC for $20 million for blown up, exaggerated use of imagery. She said that she ordered a bucket of KFC after seeing tubs overflowing with big, juicy pieces in ads. But what she received was a half-empty tub of tiny, disappointing portions. She said the contents don’t “feed a family”, as claimed by the company. The bucket cost $20. She sued for $20 million.
She just wanted more chicken. Who doesn’t?
4. As they say, books can never teach you what real life can. 27-year-old Trina Thompson slapped a case on her alma mater, Monroe College, due to her own inability to find a job after a futile 3-month lookout. She demanded that the $70,000 she spent on her course fee be returned to her. The case was brushed aside as no college can guarantee employment.
Here’s hoping Trina learnt her lesson. The hard way, we suppose.
5. This man gave us the king of all lawsuits. Guess who Robert Lee Brock sued?
The guy was a prison inmate and sued his drunken self (who broke the law) for $ 5 million on the grounds of violating his own religious beliefs. Best part? He said he’d pay himself but couldn’t do so at the time as he didn’t have a job. (No shit you don’t, genius. You’re in jail.) He asked the state to pay for him till he got out and found a source of income. The judge said no. Thank god someone was sober.
6. This one is pretty gross but hilarious as hell. Austin Aitken, a diehard Fear Factor loyalist, sued his favourite show’s broadcast network, NBC, for $ 2.5 million for airing a particularly graphic episode that showed contestants eating rats that had been chopped up in a blender before being served. This made Aitken lose his shit and run into a wall. His blood pressure shot up too. The case was ultimately dismissed in court.
If you come to think about it, all he had to do was change the channel.
7. Who wants to be like Michael Jordan?!
Not this guy.
Allen Heckard sued Jordan for $416 million for… looking like him. The basketball legend's doppelganger claimed that he went through “emotional pain and suffering” as he was compared to Jordan time and again no matter where he went. Interestingly, he was spotted with the trademark Jordan earrings and sneakers too. But obviously he wasn’t trying to look like the superstar. Thankfully, he dropped the case when better sense prevailed.
8. This dude sued Bank of America for… hold your breath… $1,784 billion trillion. Don’t even bother thinking how much money that is. Dalton Chiscolm filed a case against the bank for poor customer service. Apparently, a few of his cheques weren’t deposited correctly. Anyway, Chiscolm wanted more cash than there is in the world. In the end, he got nothing.
9. Man starts watching porn on his MacBook. Man gets addicted to porn. Wife finds out, takes the kid and leaves. Sad and angry, man blames Apple and sues the company.
This is the story of Chris Sevier. He filed a 50-page complaint with the court, accusing the tech giant of being a “silent poisoner” responsible for “arousal addiction, sex trafficking, prostitution and countless numbers of destroyed lives.” One day, Sevier had mistakenly typed in a wrong URL that led to his first-ever porn site. Basically, the man was seeking ‘damages’ from the company for his many, many orgasms. He didn’t get paid for them.
10. Would you trust Google Maps with your life?
Lauren Rosenberg, a young woman from Los Angeles, certainly did. She sued the search engine for more than $100,000 for misleading the way, taking her to a ‘four-lane highway without sidewalks’ that didn’t seem safe enough for pedestrians. Even though that should have been her cue to turn around and find another route, she kept walking and was hit by a speeding bike. Many called her claim silly but her lawyer fought on, calling the directions given by Google reckless and dangerous.
If only she’d kept her eyes on the road instead of her phone.