Summary: The top 10 craziest lawsuits from this year, according to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.
In our sue-happy country, there are bound to be some people who take advantage of the system. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose; but either way, their actions make us scratch our heads. The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform compiled a list of the Top 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2016. They created the list after surveying 5,000 people, and the lawsuits against Starbucks landed them the top slot. The coffee chain was hit twice by “ridiculous” plaintiffs for having “too much” of an apparent bad thing.
ILR President Lisa A. Rickard told USA Today that the lawsuits “are a cringe-worthy reminder that America’s legal system is being abused.” She added, “The combined list highlights how this practice has run amok.”
10. Business owner spends $25M to fight government…and wins
Howard Root is the CEO of a medical company that sells an FDA-approved device to treat varicose veins. The U.S. Department of Justice claimed that his company falsely advertised the product, and they sought to fine him. Root fought back, spending $25 million in legal fees and using almost 100 attorneys. In February, he finally won the case; but experts worry that the DOJ will never stop their unnecessary persecution of high-profile and compliant companies.
9. Family sues SAT for giving son extra time
The SAT is stressful for every student because of its weight in their college applications. So it would make sense that students would do anything to gain an edge, and one lucky kid in New Jersey was given more time on the test because of a typo on the exam. Instead of taking his good fortune and moving on with his day, he and his mom sued the test makers! Turns out the Educational Testing Service and the College Board decided not to grade the portion of the test where kids were given extra time, and that really pissed off the plaintiffs.
8. Man sues Nebraska Cornhuskers to end balloon release
At the University of Nebraska, football fans celebrate touchdowns by releasing almost a thousand red balloons in the air. But one Donnie Downer sued the school because he said that the balloons were harmful to the environment. His concern could’ve been valid, except that the balloons were biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Oops. Maybe he just didn’t like the tailgate.
7. Cyclist sues Soulcycle for too intense of a workout
Soulcycle is hella expensive and hella trendy, and its cult followers love it because of its intensity. Well, everyone except for Carmen Farias. Farais sued the cycling class chain because she said she suffered an injury during class. In her lawsuit, she said “the lack of instruction, design of the bike, volume of the music and darkness of the room” resulted in gross negligence, even though ironically those are some of the reasons its members pay almost $30/hr to attend a class. Before the course, all users are required to sign a release form, but Farias said hers was invalid because they did not provide her with a copy. Sounds like she’s just spinning her wheels.
6. Lawsuit troll buys $40 printer off Craigslist, sues seller
Doug Costello wanted to sell his printer, so he did what most people would do–he put up an ad on Craigslist and sold it for $40 in 2009. Too bad for Doug, the purchaser was a notorious lawsuit troll named Gersh Zavodnik, who sued him for $30,000 in damages. Due to a dumb state technicality, Costello ended up spending $12,000 fighting the frivolous suit, and the case is still pending.
5. Mastercard sued over cancer fundraiser
Mastercard raised money for “Stand Up for Cancer,” and the credit card company stated that their fundraising goal was $4 million. Even after hitting that mark, they kept going and eventually raised $30 million. While most people would rejoice at the pledgers generosity, one man sued Mastercard for $5 million, stating the company should have quit asking for money once they met their target. Mastercard responded by saying the lawsuit was “baseless.”
4. Animal rights group fights for monkey selfies
In 2015, a British photographer was hanging out with a monkey, who took his camera and started taking cute selfies with it. Charmed, the photographer released the portraits online and made a decent profit, and in a bizarre move, PETA sued the photographer. The animal rights group argued that the monkey, not the man, owned the rights to the work, but PETA ended up losing the suit in January. Even after it was all over, PETA still came out victorious by making the photographer’s life bananas for a while.
3. Woman wins $161,000 after walking into a ladder
We see it everywhere. People glued to their cell phones, whether they’re out to dinner, at work, or exercising, even. But for one woman, walking while texting proved to be a lucrative act. DeToya Moody was texting when she walked into a ladder, which was in a blocked off construction zone. Her accident caused her to be taken away to the hospital, and she suffered injuries. She sued the construction company, and even with surveillance video proving she wasn’t paying attention, a jury awarded her $161,000.
2. Court dismisses lip balm lawsuit
Any woman who has ever purchased makeup knows that there is always going to be precious goodness stuck to the bottom of the container, destined to be wasted. But very few people would bother suing over it, let alone filing a class action lawsuit. However, that’s exactly what one woman did against Fresh. She claimed that the lip balm maker hoodwinked customers into thinking they’ll be able to use the product stuck in the tube; and she sued, saying the company violated California’s Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. In the end, a court said everyone knew how lip balm tubes worked, and they threw out her case.
1. Starbucks sued over ice and steam
In 2016, Starbucks faced two class action lawsuits for being too extra. In one lawsuit, the coffemakers allegedly gave customers too much ice. In another lawsuit, they allegedly whipped up too much steam. It was like they were inside their own Goldilocks fairy tale. Luckily, the ice lawsuit was thrown out; the steam one is still up in the air.
- Related: Texas Lawyer Suing Starbucks for Too Hot Coffee
- Related: “7 Craziest Fast Food Lawsuits of All Time“
- Related: “Starbucks Sued for Underfilling Lattes”
What do you think were the most ridiculous lawsuits of the year? Let us know in the comments below.