Earlier this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform announced its list of the Top 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2013:
- Inmates’ suit blames a life of crime on beer companies
- Ohio teacher claims fear of children in suit against district
- Student kicked off school track team for absences, Dad sues county for $40 million
- Woman suing over “severe and permanent injuries” still able to complete half-marathon
- Lawsuit claims ‘footlong’ sandwiches come up short
- Grown man sues parents for their “indifference” to his problems
- Customer sues restaurant over hostess’ rude comment
- Grad student who received free tuition sues school over grade
- Two years to toss suit from robber who sued shop owner
- Man sues Apple for his porn addiction
The No. 1 suit on the list was also the earliest reported in 2013, although the suit was actually filed in December 2012, according to a Jan. 2, 2013 article in the Idaho Statesman. (Idaho Statesman, Jan. 2, 2013, “Idaho inmates: The beer made us do it” and Insurance Journal/AP, Jan. 3, 2013, “5 Idaho Inmates Sue Beer Companies Seeking $1 Billion in Damages“)
“I have spent a great deal of…time in prison because of situations that have arose because of people being drunk, or because of situations in which alcohol played a major role,” said one of the plaintiffs, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for shooting a man to death, the Statesman article reports. He and the other inmates who contend they were never informed that alcohol was habit forming and addictive, filed the lawsuit against eight defendants—including Anheuser-Busch Coors, Miller Brewing and the owner of Jim Beam whiskey, American Brands—without the assistance of attorney, the article says.
Although another set of widely reported lawsuits against Anheuser-Busch InBev—alleging that beer was watered down—did not make the ILR list, a similar allegation of less-than-expected ingredients was the subject of the fifth-ranked lawsuit—the case of the 11-inch footlong sandwich filed against Subway shops.
And alcohol addiction wasn’t the only vice that prompted a lawsuit, the ILR list reveals, with the No. 10-ranked suit coming from a former lawyer who alleged that Apple failed to block pornographic websites to users of its technology.
The ILR list reveals that schools and school-related activities were another popular driver of ridiculous suits in 2013, including the No. 2 ranked suit brought by a teacher in Ohio who suffers from pedophobia. A close reading of articles about that lawsuit—including a Jan. 13, 2013 article from FoxNews.com headlined, “Ohio teacher cites fear of children in discrimination suit,” cited by ILR—reveals that pedophobia is actually a fear of being around young children, not all children, and the teacher sued because she was reassigned from high school students to junior high. Still the court dismissed most of the claims in her lawsuit.
The ILR ranking is based on tallies of monthly votes cast throughout the year by visitors to the website FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org.
The Faces of Lawsuit Abuse campaign is ILR’s public awareness effort created to highlight the impact of abusive lawsuits on small businesses, communities, and individuals.