Anyone who has watched Law & Order, or any other U.S. detective show, will have heard the cops state the words: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…” The phrase needs to be recited by law enforcement while detaining suspects. It basically ensures suspects of their rights to defend themselves and that they are not required to talk to detectives without an attorney present.
These rights are also known as the Miranda Warning and were implicated in a 1966 case: Miranda v. Arizona. Ernesto Arturo Miranda was a 24-year-old high school dropout who was accused of the kidnapping and sexual assault of an 18-year-old girl. He gave a full confession during a two-hour investigation, and that was the sole evidence used against him. After Miranda’s conviction, his lawyer used the Constitution to appeal to the court. This is the case that changed police protocol in the United States.
On March 3, 1963, an 18-year-old young woman was working her regular job at the movie theater concession stand in downtown Phoenix. When her shift was over, she got on the public bus and headed home; nothing out of the ordinary. It seemed to be a typical evening. When the bus reached her stop, she jumped off and made her way towards her house. She noticed a car, which later was proved to be Ernesto Miranda’s.
Mr. Miranda didn’t know who this woman was, but he approached her. He then forced the frightened woman to get into the backseat of his car. The girl was obviously terrified, worried she would never get out of this kidnapping alive. Miranda drove for about twenty minutes before he stopped at a secluded area. Sadly, that’s where he stopped and sexually assaulted the innocent girl.
The young woman was scared. Not only did Ernesto rob her and kidnap her, but he also raped her. However, after the brutal assault, he took the woman back to the city, alive and relatively safe (as safe as you can be after a traumatic attack). While dropping her off, he muttered the words, “pray for me,” and the woman rushed home.
She told her family, who immediately called the police to report the demoralizing rape. The woman spoke to detectives and described to them what the car looked like. She said the assailant drove a green or gray car with dark upholstery with stripes. This was their only lead.
Approximately one week later, she and her cousin noticed a car in the neighborhood that matched the description. She managed to get part of the license plate number, which she gave to the police. From that partial plate, police tracked down the sedan, and it led them to 29-year-old Twila Hoffman. She wasn’t the suspect, though.
She was living close to Mesa, Arizona. Hoffman was living with her boyfriend at the time, and his name was… Ernesto Miranda. He was detectives’ first and only suspect. When they knocked on the door, Miranda agreed to go into the station and participate in a lineup. He stood there for identification with three other men.
From that partial plate, the investigators discovered that Ernesto Miranda was their top suspect. Mr. Miranda was arrested on March 13, 1963, and taken into the police station. He was placed in a lineup to be identified. Unfortunately, the victim wasn’t able to positively recognize him as her attacker, but Miranda was led to believe otherwise. He asked the police how he did afterward, and Captain Carroll Cooley responded, saying: “Not too good, Ernie.”
It’s important to note that Miranda only had a 9th-grade education. He didn’t even know the constitution, let alone understand the law. Because of this, he was an easy suspect for detectives to work with.
After his arrest, Miranda was placed in a lineup. The card label he was wearing was number 1. Then, for another two hours, he was questioned by detectives. However, Mr. Miranda was never told that he had the right to have a lawyer present, and he wrote a confession. Miranda ultimately confessed to kidnapping and assaulting the young woman.
At a certain point, the detectives decided to bring the victim into the room. Miranda was asked if this was the woman he raped, and his response was, “That’s the girl.” He detailed the confession, and it was used in court. It didn’t take long for the jury to deliberate and come up with a verdict. They convicted the criminal, and he was sentenced to 20-30 years behind bars.
Another attorney heard about Miranda’s case, and he was intrigued. The attorney, Robert Corcoran, worked with the Phoenix chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. He got in contact with John J. Flynn, a prominent trial lawyer in Arizona. Flynn took over the case and recruited his colleague, John P. Frank, a constitutional law expert.
Flynn wanted Frank’s help to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. Frank wrote in his brief on behalf of Miranda, “The day is here to recognize the full meaning of the Sixth Amendment.” As you probably know, the Sixth Amendment covers the rights of criminal defendants, and part of that is the right to a lawyer.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees the rights of criminal defendants, but the Fifth Amendment was also at play here. The Fifth Amendment protects defendants from being forced to become a witness against themselves. Was his Fifth Amendment right also violated?
After all, Miranda’s confession was written directly under a statement saying he was fully aware of his legal rights. His lawyers, however, argued that those rights were not clear enough to him. He could have confessed because of the pressure of interrogation. (We now know false confessions happen all the time.) They believed that under the duress of detainment, his confession should not have been admissible in court.
The Supreme Court said that the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees that “no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” That means that when an officer takes somebody into custody for questioning, the officers are technically making a suspect a witness against themselves… unless they give them certain warnings, of course.
Therefore, the Supreme Court said that when someone is taken into custody or deprived of their freedom by authorities, the police can’t just question or interrogate them. Well, they can… as long as the person being questioned is completely aware of what is going on, and that the things they reveal can be held against them.
The Supreme Court, which was being led by Chief Justice Earl Warren at the time, agreed with Miranda’s lawyers. In a 5-4 ruling, the decision was made, and the Supreme Court reversed the Arizona Supreme Court’s initial decision. They believed that under the circumstances, Miranda’s confession shouldn’t have been admissible.
On June 13, 1966, Warren’s 60-plus page written opinion was released. He further explained the police procedure to make sure that defendants were fully informed of their rights while being detained and interrogated. These new police procedures were known as the Miranda Warning. Police departments all over the country wrote them down on index cards and told their officers to read them to suspects.
In order not to break the Fifth Amendment, police must warn the defendant prior to questioning, stating the following: “you have the right to remain silent; anything you say can be used against you in a court of law; you have the right to the presence of an attorney; if you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for you prior to any questioning if you so desire.”
There are a lot of misconceptions about the Supreme Court’s official position in the Miranda case. It doesn’t mean that police are required to read each individual’s rights after an arrest; it also doesn’t mean that investigators always need to read the rights before they start questioning.
You’ll never guess how Miranda’s retrial went and ultimate fate.
So what you are probably wondering is when exactly it is required for an officer to read the Miranda rights? As it turns out, the only time the cops need to read you your Miranda rights is if they are planning on conducting a custodial interrogation. If the suspect is in custody, they are required to receive their Miranda Rights, so that they can be protected when there is a formal arrest or freedom associated with that formal arrest.
Interrogation under Miranda doesn’t only refer to asking questions, but also any words or actions on the part of the police, which they know are likely to elicit any incriminating statements from the suspect. In a custodial interrogation, custody, and interrogation happen at the same time.
Sometimes police begin an interrogation without having the suspect in custody. For example, the detectives often leave their business cards for people who are involved in an investigation. If the person who obtains a business card calls the detectives and agrees to come to speak with them at the police station, the detective does not detain or arrest the individual during questioning.
Since there is an interrogation, but nobody is in custody, the detective isn’t required to read the Miranda rights. So if someone comes in voluntarily, cops don’t need to read the rights because they are free to leave at any time. They aren’t being held against their will.
As for Ernesto Miranda, he was released from prison, but he did not get away with his heinous crime. After his conviction was overturned in 1966, his case was brought back to the Arizona trial court. During his second trial, the prosecutor wasn’t allowed to use Miranda’s confession against him since it was no longer admissible.
However, Miranda’s ex-“common-law” wife testified at his second trial. Not long after he was arrested for kidnapping, she visited him in jail. Her testimony stated that when she was there, Miranda confessed to her that he kidnapped and raped the 18-year-old girl. But was that enough? Would he still be sentenced without his confession?
As we know, Miranda’s case was set for a retrial. This time, however, the confession was left out of the evidence, even though his Supreme Court case changed the entire criminal procedure in the United States. However, Ernesto Miranda’s fate wasn’t as altered. As we mentioned, during his retrial, Twila Hoffman, his ex-girlfriend, testified against him.
She claimed that while he was in prison, he revealed details to her about his crimes. Without the confession, her testimony was essential for his conviction. In October 1967 he was convicted once again and sentenced to 20-30 years in jail. In 1975 he was released on parole, and let’s just say he wasn’t a model citizen.
Okay, so after getting out of prison, Miranda’s newfound criminal fame made it hard for him to get a job. To make cash, he sold his autograph around Phoenix. Shortly after his release, Mr. Miranda got in a fight during a poker game at a bar, over $2! Pick your battles, man! During that drunken fight, Miranda was stabbed to death. Then, things got weird.
The police detained and questioned the man who allegedly gave the murder weapon (which was a knife) to the killer. After he received his official Miranda Warning, he declined to make a statement. In an ironic twist of events, the killer got away and was never found. The Miranda Rights were basically the reason that Ernesto Miranda’s killer was never discovered.
It should sound familiar to you by now; the Miranda Warning reads: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
So if the police want to question you regarding a crime, it’s best to speak with an experienced lawyer before talking directly to the detectives. Even if you are completely innocent, misunderstanding can occur, and every citizen has the right to defend themselves. An attorney is there to help guide you and secure your rights.
A misconception of the Miranda case is that Ernesto was let out because he didn’t have his rights read to him. I mean, before his case, nobody had their rights read, so it wasn’t a rational reason to dismiss the case. During his original trial, his lawyer argued that because Miranda only had a ninth-grade education, he wasn’t aware of his Fifth Amendment right.
His defense was that Miranda didn’t know his laws against self-incrimination. Basically, he didn’t know his rights, but it had nothing to do with police not reading him his rights. It was only when his lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court that the Miranda Warning became a thing. The judge believed that the Fifth and Sixth Amendments didn’t mean much if defendants like Miranda don’t understand them.
Police officers are not required to read Miranda rights during stops, although they do ask the driver questions. In the 1984 Berkemer v. McCarty case, an Ohio man attempted to fight his DUI arrest. His defense was that the police did not Mirandize him during his stop.
As we mentioned earlier, you don’t get your Miranda rights read to you unless you are in police custody. This is similar to when witnesses call up detectives or speak to police voluntarily. Although being stopped in traffic isn’t necessarily voluntary, the individual isn’t being arrested. Of course, if the police stop the suspect to take them into custody, they need to recite the Miranda rights.
Thanks to this case, police protocol has changed in America forever. But some cases can be so ridiculous, you wont believe they are real. Check out these crazy lawsuits!
Due to the nature of his confession, Ernesto Miranda’s case changed how the U.S. justice system conducts itself. It is always disappointing to see someone released after such a heinous crime. His clever lawyers were able to use the Constitution against the prosecution, and the Miranda rights soon became basic protocol.
But even today, these laws are important because you can always protect yourself. If a suspect gives a confession without being told their rights, it will not be admissible in court. Although Ernesto was ultimately released on parole, he wasn’t able to run away from karma. He quickly met the fate he deserved.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, shall we? Trivial lawsuits are about as American as apple pie. We all love to talk about and even make fun of those who, after some trivial inconvenience, take a person or an entire company to court demanding ridiculous amounts of money. And as frivolous as these lawsuits may be, many of them actually end up winning!
Lawsuits are filed each year with legitimate claims that deserve to be taken seriously and do indeed deserve a major payout, but those aren’t the ones that make the headlines. The ones that make it to the water filter conversations are the outrageous ones. Let me take a guess – the first one that just popped in your head as the McDonald’s lawsuit where a person sued the franchise after being burned by piping hot coffee. But here’s the thing: that’s just one example. As you’ll see, people have gone so far as to sue God himself…
Let’s go through the best ones that we’ve rounded up, and you can be the judge (pun intended) as to whether or not the part that won was justified. And let me warn you: your jaw will drop.
Let’s start with a “sweet” one. A California woman filed a lawsuit in 2017 against the candy company Jelly Belly. Why? Because she felt misled by the fact that their candies contained sugar. Yup. Jessica Gomez filed a complaint against the jellybean manufacturer for their use of the term “evaporated cane juice” which appears on the packaging for the Jelly Belly Sport Beans.
Gomez said she thought it meant that the candies were sugar-free, and thus, they were a healthier snack option. The candy company (and myself included) called the lawsuit “nonsense” and urged the courts to dismiss it because the product’s nutrition label visibly shows its sugar content.
The case was indeed dismissed after the court ruled that the plaintiffs failed to show the facts specific to their purchase and reliance on advertising.
Let’s move on to a family matter. Whenever families are drawn into court, it’s more often than not an unfortunate event. But this case will baffle you for sure. Let me just say this, if you’re a parent to a teenager, try not to get any ideas from this.
In 2018, a New York married couple took their 30-year-old son, Michael, to court. They were seriously (and I mean seriously) hoping that the judge would force him to move out of their home. This only begs the question: what did he do??
Mark and Christina Rotondo gave their son a series of eviction notices and even offered him over $1,000 to help him land on his feet. After the notices failed to get their son out of the house, they filed for the court to order Michael to get out. What did Michael have to say for himself? He didn’t have a job and refused to leave in time. The ruling? The judge sided with the parents and ordered Michael to vacate the home.
A man from Texas made headlines not just in America, but also in international news and even became a poster boy for pettiness. And it’s because of the ridiculous lawsuit he decided was worth hiring a lawyer and going to court for. So what was his case? He sued a woman after what he called the “first date from hell.”
Brandon Vezmar, age 37, went on a date with a woman he met on the dating app Bumble in 2017. The two met up, and Vezmar was ticked off when she apparently spent the whole night on her cellphone. Vezmar went ahead and sued the woman, hoping to get back the $17.31 he spent on the movie ticket he bought for her. The woman eventually gave him his money back so that he would drop the whole thing and leave her alone.
If you thought those lawsuits were the perfect topics of discussion at your next water cooler meeting or your next dinner with friends, you should read this one. Now, there is something to be said for claims of false advertising, but lawsuits can easily go haywire when the accuser just gets greedy.
One case came around in 2016 when a New York man went after a basketball manufacturer when his ball prematurely lost some of its air. Jaish Markos accused Russell Brands, the company that makes Spalding Neverflat basketballs, of misleading him despite their advertisements that say the ball would stay inflated for a year. Okay, so why not just ask for a refund? No, Markos wanted a greedy $5 million for the faulty product. Apparently, the case is still open.
When you think about Red Bull, what comes to mind? Sure, that they’re an energy drink. But somewhere in your thoughts is their super famous commercial and the slogan “Red Bull: It gives you wings!” well, apparently someone thought they were serious. This is a rare example of a brand who got sued for their slogan. And not only did they get sued – they lost too! Now, if you ask me (and any other level-headed person), drinking an energy drink is NOT going to give you wings.
The claim obviously isn’t meant to be taken literally, yet somehow it landed the company in court. Disappointed Red Bull drinkers sued the company because they claimed that the advertisements led them to really believe that Red Bull would give them a physical performance boost. It looks like that’s the angle they used, and that’s what worked.
Webster Lucas, a man from California, had a rather unsatisfactory visit at a McDonald’s location in Pacoima, California. The problem was that he didn’t have enough napkins…
On a visit to the fast-food chain, in late January 2014, Lucas claimed that after asking for an extra napkin with his order, the Manager on duty (who he described as a Mexican-American) mumbled something that Lucas considered to be racially discriminating.
Lucas wrote a letter to the location’s General Manager, saying that the incident left him “unable to work because of the undue mental anguish and the intentional infliction of emotional distress” caused by the manager who may or may not have given him an extra napkin. The price tag Mr. Lucas requested for his emotional and mental distress? 1.5 million dollars.
While it is unclear as to whether or not he even got his much-needed extra napkins, one thing is, however, clear: He’s Lovin’ It!
This one gives new meaning to the saying, “I’ll sue the pants off you!”
A Washington, D.C. judge (a judge!) by the name of Roy Pearson took his pants to the dry-cleaners at a family-owned business called Custom Cleaners. He claims that they never returned the correct pair of pants, and thus betrayed their “satisfaction guaranteed” sign. This goes down in pants history as the most expensive pair of pants because he sued the company for an incredible $67 million.
Good news! He came to his senses and dropped the case. Bad news! He dropped it to “only” $54 million. Pearson passionately described his mental suffering, inconvenience, and discomfort to the judge.
The case ended dramatically, as you might assume. The dry-cleaner owner held up a pair of pressed pants, faced the judge, the jury and the plaintiff, and said: “These are your pants.” Pearson then ran out of the court, tears streaming, shocked at the injustice. To this day, he denies that those were even his pants.
A woman in Washington, Cynthia Ruddell, was simply not a fan of her neighbor’s pet duck, whom she called “crazy” in a 2014 lawsuit. Ruddell sued Lolita Rose (the duck owner) after she claimed that her duck attacked her, leading to injuries. Ruddell said the duck, which Rose apparently let roam around free, flapped its wings at her in a way that knocked her down as she was walking down the street one day.
Ruddell claimed in court that the duck truly scared her and that the fall to suffering major injuries, including the breaking of her wrist. Ruddell was looking to get money, obviously, and she was officially seeking $275,000 in damages and medical expenses. This lawsuit eventually disappeared from the public view.
We can all admit that we get annoyed at the thought of snack packages, whether boxes of candy or bags of chips, containing more empty space than the actual food inside. But do we take the snack company to court? These people did. A group of angry snack customers took the makers of Junior Mints to court because they were very unsatisfied with how much air was in the boxes.
The lawsuit was filed against Tootsie Roll Industries (who make Junior Mints), and the claim was that the company was deceiving buyers by leaving one-third of every Junior Mints box empty. A federal judge in New York threw the claim out in 2018, saying any “reasonable” customer expects some empty space inside each box.
What do you think about this one? In 2013, a college student from Pennsylvania made headlines when she sued her university after receiving failing grades. The young woman, who was studying nursing at Misericordia University, blamed her school’s officials for not assisting her enough when she failed the same required course on two separate occasions.
The student wanted punitive damages after the school allegedly discriminated against her having disabilities of anxiety and depression when she was taking her final exams. The woman ended up dropping the lawsuit. In 2014, the company agreed to settle for $13 million, but not for the student alone. Their settlement involved offering every unsatisfied customer either a check for $10 or a certificate for $15 of Red Bull energy drinks.
In 1991, a man named Richard Overton sued Anheuser-Busch, the beer maker (Budweiser and Bud Light), because their advertisements featured guys getting together with beautiful women. The problem? The ads don’t illustrate the reality that consuming beer doesn’t get you, attractive women.
He accused the beer maker of deceiving society to get people to buy their products and promoting the false belief that beer is needed for social interaction between the sexes. Apparently, Overton was passionately concerned for society and its beer drinkers – specifically the dudes who just want attractive gals. Overton claimed that he experienced emotional and physical distress and financial losses of 10,000 dollars. He demanded $250 for every day Anheuser-Busch continued to air these ads.
Allen Heckard wants you to know that he is not Michael Jordan. And he would really appreciate it if you stopped calling him by that name. In his own legal words, dealing with “defamation, permanent injury, and emotional pain and suffering” of being mistaken for the basketball legend proved to be too much for Heckard, who was 8 years older, about 6 inches shorter.
Heckard sued Jordan for $416 million for stealing his likeness. He then sued Nike for the same amount for making Michael Jordan one of the most recognizable men in the world. Have any of your jaws dropped yet? If you’re wondering why $416 million… Heckard explained: “Well, you figure with my age and you multiply that by seven and, ah, then I turn around and, ah, I figure that’s what it all boils down to.”
Don’t worry, folks; there’s hope in the world. The lawsuit was quickly dropped, most likely because Nike’s lawyers found Heckard and told him about all the ways they would counter-sue.
This is not a joke. Ernie Chambers, “the duly elected and serving State Senator from the 11th Legislative District in Omaha, Nebraska,” sued God. Why, do you ask? “For directly and proximately [causing], among other things, fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornados, pestilential plague.” Chambers used the lawsuit as a cease and desist order to the Almighty, complaining that He must bow down to the law and “cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats.”
Chambers later claimed that he filed this lawsuit as a way to fight local laws that prohibited the public from filing frivolous lawsuits. As a senator, what better way to bring up the issue and prove that “anyone can sue anyone they choose, even God” by filing a crazy lawsuit and waste the taxpayers’ money?
Chambers revealed that he not only believes in God, but he also believes that he can sue him to make a point. The judge (obviously) rejected the case because of a technical reason: the Almighty didn’t have a recorded address. The jury is out as to whether God will show up to court. Your move, big guy.
Tons of noteworthy and also hilarious lawsuits have come out of New York, and this was one of the better ones. Andrew Rector, a used car salesman, went to a New York Yankees game in July 2014, but he ended up falling asleep in the stands. That kind of sucks, right? Well, what sucks, even more, is that ESPN, which was broadcasting the game, caught Rector on camera snoozing, and the announcers basically poked fun at him.
Rector decided to sue the network for defamation and demanded $10 million in damages because he felt that the announcers’ remarks hurt his reputation. A judge threw out the case in 2015, stating that Rector was only on camera for a mere 30 seconds and that the jokes were nothing as serious as defamation.
Disability claims are no laughing matter, but this one had many people rolling their eyes in 2014 when it made the news. What do you think of this one?
A firefighter in Houston, Texas, decided to sue the fire department that he worked for under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He claimed that he had a debilitating fear of fire, which meant he was unable to do his job. After poor performances at multiple fire scenes, the man was demoted to a job outside of the field of firefighting, which is what led to the lawsuit.
Believe it or not, the jury sided with the man, which would have awarded him $362,000 in damages. But a judge in the Texas Supreme Court was a little stricter than that and disagreed with the jury. He stripped the decision upon appeal and said the man didn’t prove that he was “disabled” under the ADA’s protections.
Come on, man… everyone knows that the house always wins. Casinos will gladly take all the money from you than you care to play with, and most people understand that whether they like it or not. But one gambler by the name of Mark Johnston felt like his rights were violated after a particularly unlucky night. Johnston, a California man, sued the Downtown Grand casino in Las Vegas after he claimed $500,000 in losses.
His basis for the lawsuit was that he was too drunk to responsibly gamble, making it the casino’s fault. In a shocking twist, the story ends by Johnston having actually ripped the casino off for the $500,000 by writing phony checks to borrow money from them. That led the Downtown Grand to countersue him, and then a warrant was issued for his arrest.
One day in 1995, Robert Glaser went to a Billy Joel Concert at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego and felt nature calling and naturally went to relieve himself. But he wasn’t aware that the bathrooms at the stadium were unisex. When he got to the bathroom, he found a woman using a urinal to urinate. This apparently traumatized Glaser.
He went around the stadium trying to find a place to pee in peace, but all he found were women in all the restrooms. He was terrified at the thought that one of them would suddenly crouch over the urinals, or that he would end up in a ladies’ restroom and “breaking the rules.” So what did he do? He held it in for four hours. The “emotional distress” and “embarrassment” he suffered were his complaints in the lawsuit he filed against the stadium and even the city of San Diego for $5.4 million. He lost the case. To this day, women can use a urinal to pee in San Diego.
Lauren Rosenberg is not a happy Google Maps user. Rosenberg was trying to walk from 96 Daly Street, Park City in Utah, to 1710 Prospector Avenue using Google Maps on her BlackBerry. Part of the Google directions involved a half-mile walk down Deer Valley Drive. When she arrived there, she saw that the road itself had no pedestrian sidewalk. Why? Because Deer Valley Drive was also Utah State Route 224.
Rosenberg continued following the directions and walked down the major highway. But she got hit by a car, and so she sued Google for leading her there. She demanded $100,000 because the directions were unreasonable and unsafe. Rosenberg said she never saw the side roads that she could have used. She also didn’t pay attention to the fact that Google posts a warning about the safety and reliability of its directions with each map search.
Now, if the other lawsuits haven’t baffled you yet, try this one. Fugitives might feel the necessity to do some desperate things just to stay out of jail, but Jesse Dimmick pulled a rather shameless move after he got caught for a crime he committed in 2009. What did he do? Well, he was on the police radar after a murder charge in Kansas.
He broke into a couple’s house and held them at knifepoint. When the couple managed to get away from him when he fell asleep, they obviously called the police and told them where he was. Dimmick was quickly caught. What did Dimmick do? He sued the couple because they apparently made a legally binding oral agreement that they would help him stay free in return for money. A judge dismissed his case lawsuit in 2012, and all faith in humanity can be restored.
Some people like to watch sports as part of some family-friendly activity, and then some prefer to watch sports as a reason to unleash all their anger onto the players they see. If you’re around the latter group during a sporting event, you know you’re going to hear lots of bad words and yelling.
In 2017, two New York Giants fans sued police officers at San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium for what they believed was a violation of their First Amendment rights. The two football fans, who are brothers, said they were removed from the NFL game for cursing at the football players and flipping them off. The passionate fans also said that the cops who kicked them out of the game used excessive force, even zapping one of them with a Taser.
McDonald’s has been on the receiving end of numerous lawsuits, like the infamous hot coffee case. Some are legit; some not so much. And one case that was deemed to have no merit whatsoever happened in Miami, Florida, in 2018. A pissed off couple filed a lawsuit because the massive fast-food chain charges just as much for a Quarter Pounder WITH cheese as it does for one without the cheese.
The angry burger eaters said that they ordered the burger without any cheese and were shocked to see how the price was the exact same. So, naturally, they wanted $5 million in damages. I mean, it only makes sense…
Anyway, a Florida judge tossed it out, stating that the couple couldn’t prove that they were harmed by the additional charge.
According to Hellman’s parent company Unilever, federal regulators define mayonnaise as a spread that contains eggs. This is why Hellman’s wasn’t happy that a competitor was trying to pass off an egg-free version as the real deal. Hampton Creek’s line of “Just Mayo” uses plant products instead of eggs. Unilever claimed that by calling their non-mayo product “Just Mayo,” Hampton Creek is falsely advertising and stealing the market share that is rightfully theirs.
“Consumers and cooks have an expectation that mayonnaise should both taste and perform like mayonnaise. Just Mayo does neither,” the complaint stated. Hampton Creek’s CEO, Josh Tetrick, didn’t think it was a big deal. “Today it’s mayo; tomorrow it’s a cookie … next year it will be pasta,” he said. “Maybe we’ll see big cookie and big pasta lawsuits against us next.”
In 2012, a Dallas Cowboys fan had to watch the live game while sitting on a hot bench. It must have been a really hot day because she sued her favorite football team, claiming how she suffered severe burns due to sitting on that hot bench at the game. Jennelle Carrillo, a Texan woman, got lawyers involved after attending a team fight and unwittingly sitting on the very hot seat.
As it so happens, the temperatures that day were more than 100 degrees, and the bench she sat on was black, so you can imagine how hot it was. But Carrillo claimed that she had no way of knowing that the bench would be as hot as it was because the team didn’t have any signs posted warning fans. The lawsuit went away after the initial media mentions. No wonder…
Geography is tough for many of us. And in 2014, an American dentist by the name of Edward Gamson got a lesson in geography. He planned himself a trip to a southern city in Spain, called Granada. He was especially excited for this trip due to his lifelong passion for Islamic art and his Spanish Jewish heritage. But despite his insistence with the travel agent at British Airways that he really wanted to visit Granada, Spain, you can imagine his surprise when he ended up on a 9-hour flight to the Caribbean island of Grenada.
But British Airways refused to reimburse Gamson and his partner for the $4,500 business class tickets. So he went ahead and sued the airline for $34,000 in damages. Even though there was a little bit of suffering that he had to endure as a result of the mistake, he still got a trip to the Caribbean!
Suing over destroyed property can be a legitimate legal claim, but when you’re looking to sue mom and dad for your missing porn stash, you’re better off just cutting your losses and moving on. A man in Indiana failed to accept that insight. He brought his parents to court in 2019, telling the judge that several boxes full of pornography and adult toys mysteriously went missing after he moved in with his parents in Michigan after a divorce.
The man estimated the value of his fancy collection and came up with a total close to $30,000. The man’s father came through and admitted to having destroyed the collection in an email. So this one could even end up earning the plaintiff some money.
A class-action lawsuit from 2017 shows that people put too much trust into the pictures on beer labels. Unsatisfied beer customers sued Kona Brewing Co. after realizing that much of their beer is made in New Hampshire and Tennessee, rather than Hawaii. The bottles clearly state on the labels that the beer is made in these locations. But considering their Hawaii-themed beer names and labels, customers felt duped.
Other brewers like Red Stripe and Foster were also previously sued for “false advertising” about where they made their beers. So, these customers probably thought they had a chance. In June 2019, Kona Brewing settled this lawsuit, agreeing to pay a maximum of $20 per household for those customers who had valid proof of purchase. They also offered a maximum of $10 per household for customers who didn’t have proof of purchase.
A Chicago coffee drinker by the name of Stacy Pincus got fed up with her watered-down iced coffees from Starbucks. She took matters into her own hands and decided to sue the company over it. The court documents that were brought in on behalf of Pincus state, “Plaintiff alleges that…Starbucks has engaged in the practice of misrepresenting the amount of Cold Drink a customer will receive. As a result of this practice, Starbucks’ Cold Drinks contain significantly less product than advertised, by design and corporate practice and procedure.”
Getting ripped off on your “cold drink” is no laughing matter, people. The complaint says that standard practice at Starbucks is to fill up a venti-sized cup until just above the head of the siren on the logo and then fill the rest with ice. This means customers are getting around 14 ounces of coffee instead of the 24 ounces that fit in the cup. Starbucks says that customers can just ask for less ice.
After receiving a pair of bullets while fleeing from a police officer, a bank robber sued the County for $6.3 million. Kirkpatrick, currently an inmate at Clallam Bay Corrections Center, filed a legal claim against Snohomish County. Apparently, he claims that his medical bills from the gunshot wounds came out to more than $300,000 and that other cops failed to stop the deputy from “trying to execute” him.
What really happened was Kirkpatrick pointed a gun at the officer, and thus, he received two non-lethal hits. It looks like inmates are really trying to take the legal system for a ride. Similar to the kidnapper that sued his victims, this robber suing the cop that shot him is pretty much laughable.
In 2011, Jennifer Connell attended her nephew Sean Tarala’s 8th birthday party. Apparently, Tarala was so excited by the presence of his “Auntie Jen” that he jumped into her arms. The jump caused her to fall to the ground and break her wrist. So Connell gave her nephew a gift in the form of a $127,000 lawsuit.
Connell actually sued the boy himself for the cost of her legal bills, claiming her injuries were caused by his “negligence and carelessness,” arguing that the birthday boy “should have known that a forceful greeting such as the one delivered by the defendant to the plaintiff could cause the harms and losses suffered by the plaintiff.”
Due to a shoddy health care system and crappy homeowner’s insurance companies, Connell was left as an injured woman paying six figures out of pocket, feeling forced to sue her nephew (on paper) to get the insurance carrier to pay up.
Is a reality show grossing you out? Sue, the network! Do what Austin Aitken did to NBC after watching a Fear Factor episode in 2005 showed contestants eating a “rat smoothie” for a $50,000 prize. The 49-year-old paralegal from Cleveland, Ohio, claimed in a handwritten lawsuit that such a “barbaric” task in the episode caused his blood pressure to rise, result in him vomiting from dizziness and giving him “suffering, injury, and great pain.”
He sought $2.5 million in damages but made it clear that he wasn’t doing it for the cash; he wanted to send an important message that “these networks are going too far” and that they need to recheck their programming. He said: “You really think I expect to get $2.5 million? I just put any figure.” The judge tossed out the lawsuit, calling it “frivolous” and warned Aitken against filing an appeal.
In 2014, a mystery rock that looked like it was a jelly-filled doughnut was seen in photographs taken on Mars by NASA’s Opportunity rover. Scientists explained that the reason it wasn’t there before was that it was most likely something which had been moved by the rover. But this explanation wasn’t enough for Rhawn Joseph, a neuropsychologist and author, who chose to file a lawsuit in California demanding NASA “thoroughly scientifically examine and investigate” this mystery object that appeared out of nowhere on the surface of Mars.
Joseph claimed the rock was already there and grew to its current size in 12 days calling it “inexplicable, recklessly negligent, and bizarre” that NASA didn’t take close-up photos from different angles, and requested that “100 high-resolution photos and 24 microscopic in-focus images of the object’s exterior” be given to him.
Scientists conclude that a rover wheel rolled over a rock, broke it off a bit of it, and sent the chip downhill to where it was seen. The dark red “filling” might have formed geologically after erosion exposed the rock at the surface.
Here’s a wild idea: if you’ve done something illegal and serving time in jail for it, just file a lawsuit against who? Yourself. In 1995, Robert Lee Brock did exactly that, seeking $5 million in damages for drinking alcohol and committing crimes that he stated: “violated his religious beliefs.” His sentence was 23 years at the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Virginia for the crimes of grand larceny, breaking and entering. Brock clearly had no income to pay for the damages and asked the state to pay up.
“I want to pay myself 5 million dollars but ask the state to pay it on my behalf since I can’t work and am a ward of the state,” he stated in his claim. During the final ruling, while the judge saw the lawsuit as “an innovative approach to civil rights litigation,” he still called it “totally ludicrous.” The case was ultimately tossed out. Duh…
If a horror-themed attraction is so effective that it literally scares the life out of you, make them pay, of course! This is what Cleanthi Peters thought when in 2000, she filed a complaint against Universal Studios in Orlando for their Halloween Horror Nights haunted house. She said they caused her “extreme fear, mental anguish, and emotional distress” and also physical injury.
She said that in 1998, she and her granddaughter visited the parks’ haunted house and were chased and “attacked” by a terrifying character with a chainsaw, causing them to slip on a wet spot on the floor. According to Peters, the guy continued to scare them even as they were on the floor, both frightened and hurt. The 57-year-old woman fought for and was ultimately awarded the $15,000 in damages.
Lindsay Lohan was positive that it was her whom E-Trade was mocking in their 2010 Super Bowl advertisement that featured Lindsay, a “talking” baby who admitted to being a “milkaholic.” Lohan’s lawyers said that the idea of a baby with her name and being an “-aholic” indicated her struggles with alcohol and substance abuse, and it should count as defamation.
The then 24-year-old celebrity insisted on how the commercial was using her “likeness, name, characterization and personality” without her consent, which violated her rights. She demanded that E-Trade stop showing the ad. In September 2010, she dropped the case for a $100 million settlement with the company. People later wondered if her uproar was an admission of guilt or an effort to cover up the embarrassment.
Cookies will brighten up most peoples’ days, especially if they’re given away for free. Right? Well, at least, that’s what two teenage girls figured when they surprised their neighbor with some homemade cookies. But boy, were they in for a surprise. Lindsey Zellitti and Taylor Ostergaard just wanted to do something nice for their neighbors.
They walked around their neighborhood, knocking on doors and giving out small packages of cookies. When they got to 49-year-old Wanita Young’s house, the sudden sound of the girls knocking on her door drove her into an anxiety attack, causing her to call the police who came and called the paramedics who took her to the hospital. After the girls apologized and even offered to pay her hospital bills, Young still decided to take them to court. She sued them for $900. And get this – she won!
It was in 2011 when William Baxter was cat-sitting a cat when it “viciously” attacked him and bit his finger. Baxter did the only reasonable thing he could do: he sued the cat’s owner for $100,000. First, he demanded $50,000 for the scratches on his arm, and then another $50,000 for the bite on his finger. The wounded finger was his ring finger.
Here’s a twist: the owner of the cat was Christine Bobak, who might actually be his wife. The Southtown Star, which originally reported the lawsuit, did some digging into and found that the two were listed as married on Facebook. The lawsuit claims that not only is he suffering now, but he will “in the future continue to suffer,” which probably refers to the need to take off the band-aid.
John Coomer was watching a baseball game in 2009 when a hot dog flew into his eye. The culprit was Sluggerrr, the Kansas City Royals mascot, who was tossing hot dogs into the crowd between innings. Blinded by anger and ketchup, Coomer chose to file a lawsuit against the team. His claim? That the hot dog created a detached retina in his left eye in which he had to get surgery. Also, the act of chucking hot dogs into the crowd is dangerous.
After deliberation, the jury ruled against Coomer, saying that airborne foodstuffs are inherent risks of watching a baseball game. They also said that since Coomer had already been to 175 Royals games and witnessed the “Hotdog Launch” many times, he was definitely aware of the danger. But Coomer appealed to a higher court and managed to get the verdict reversed. The judge ruled that “the risk of being hit in the face by a hot dog is not a well-known incidental risk of attending a baseball game.”
I know this isn’t an American lawsuit, but it’s worth mentioning. An Israeli couple had to pay up $2,000 for an apartment they never even rented out thanks to an emoji. The couple messaged a landlord they found online about an apartment. During their text conversation, the couple used smiley faces and other emojis like a champagne bottle and a peace sign, for example. Harmless, right? Not so much.
The landlord took it as the couple being sincerely interested and took the property off the market. The thing is, they didn’t end up taking it and backed out. So the landlord took them to court for the month’s rent that he lost. The judge ruled that he had every right to do so. “Although this message did not constitute a binding contract between the parties, this message naturally led to the Plaintiff’s great reliance on the defendants’ desire to rent his apartment.”
In yet another example of how companies are sued for false advertising, this one comes from way down under in Australia. A group (not just one angry person) of unsatisfied Subway eaters sued the sandwich chain when they realized their “footlong” sandwiches were a little short of a foot.
In 2013, a customer measured his footlong sandwich to find the bread only came up to about 11 inches. A class-action lawsuit was thus put together, and it took a long four years to finally settle. The court eventually tossed it out in 2017 after the judge realized that the lawyers behind the case were going to make a lot more money from it than the plaintiffs were. Subway said it would do a better job making its bread more uniform.
I’ve been handpicking each and every lawsuit on this list, and I think this might be a fun one to leave you with. It’s another one that comes from the land down under (Australia). A 56-year-old man sued his former boss because he said that he was forced to put up with something rather uncomfortable. He alleged that his ex-boss would constantly fart around him.
David Hingst called his former employer’s behavior “bullying” and sought $1.3 million in damages! Hingst claimed that his boss would come into his tiny and windowless office and pass gas at least five times a day, thinking it was funny. The judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, saying he didn’t think flatulence could be defined as bullying.