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Ridiculous lawsuits on parade

By Jay MacDonald · Bankrate.com
Friday, January 11, 2013
Posted: 10 am ET

Sometimes the best Christmas presents arrive late.

My tardy surprise this year was the discovery of a website called FacesofLawsuitAbuse.org, which made my holidays a little brighter with this list of the 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2012:

  1. Intoxicated Florida driver pleads guilty to manslaughter, then sues victim he killed.
  2. Michigan woman files $5 million suit to get back the gas in the tank of her repossessed car.
  3. A 13-year-old Little Leaguer is sued by a spectator who got struck by a baseball.
  4. A maximum-security inmate who went to jail with five teeth sues prison for dental problems.
  5. Anheuser-Busch is sued after a long-neck bottle is used as weapon in bar fight.
  6. A National Football League fan sues the Dallas Cowboys over hot bench.
  7. A California restaurant owner is sued over disabilities-act violations in a parking lot he doesn't own.
  8. A Colorado man wins $7 million over an illness he says was caused by inhaling microwave popcorn fumes.
  9. A $1.7 billion suit claims Santa Monica, Calif., wireless parking meters cause health problems.
  10. Parents sue a school after their son was kicked out of an honors class for cheating.

There's a sobering purpose behind this list. The site is the brainchild of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), which uses any tool at its disposal -- including trenchant humor -- to prevent economic and human damage from what it calls "lawsuit abuse."

That term is a far less forgiving one than its predecessor, "frivolous lawsuits," which seemed to trivialize the damage that our increasingly litigious society exacts on all of us. According to the ILR, the cost of lawsuits in this country, when measured as a percentage of gross domestic product, is more than double that of any other industrialized nation.

Translation? "We sue too much," says Lisa Rickard, ILR president.

The growing cost of abusive litigation factors heavily into the premiums we pay on our homeowners insurance and auto insurance policies and the products and services we buy from small businesses. Questionable lawsuits wreck lives, reward gold-diggers and tax our court system.

To try to correct this course, FacesofLawsuitAbuse.org provides a platform for victims of lawsuit abuse to tell their stories via video. Most of these first-person stories might air once if at all on a local TV broadcast and disappear forever. ILR hopes its accumulation of victim videos will have an impact greater than the occasional segment on the nightly news.

To keep the clicks coming, FacesofLawsuitAbuse.org hosts an interactive poll where you can vote for the most ridiculous lawsuit of the month.

Log on for the laughs, stay for the outrage. It's going to take public awareness and engagement to prompt action on lawsuit abuse.

(Thanks to "Terms + Conditions" blogger Claire Wilkinson at the Insurance Information Institute for tipping me to this important site.)

Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus

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52 Comments
David Gardner
January 20, 2013 at 8:19 pm

As Lawsuit HAPPY people are today. I wouldn't doubt someone will want to sue over this comment. Basically what happened to Common Sense.

John Burke
January 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm

How ridiculous. This reminds me of when the person sued McDonalds for spilling coffee on themselves and burning themselves. So silly what people do to try and get money that they do not work for. This makes me want to re-evaluate our company processes, I manage a fencing company in Dearborn Michigan and could only imagine the silly things that people would try and sue us for. Thankfully no one has...

Roy
January 11, 2013 at 8:26 pm

The root of the problem is the Lawyers, They get 30 to 50 percent of the settlements.They encourage the lawsuits. It was them and there medical malpractice suits that drove up the cost of health care

Angela
January 11, 2013 at 7:31 pm

As the economy gets progressively worst, the more frivolous lawsuits that appear. This area truly needs legal reform.

charles cook
January 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm

DELIQUENT PARENTS HAVE DELIQUENT CHILDERN

Parry Boucher
January 11, 2013 at 6:29 pm

I find it interesting that not one of the "Ridiculous Lawsuits" was filed on behalf of a corporation. Why is it that when the person filing is an individual, it's "ridiculous", but when the entity filing is a multi-million or billion dollar company it's "protecting (the businesses)interests". Such as the IOCC suing a gay group for using the word "Olympics", or a company contending that the phrase "The Game of..." is a registered trademark? Curious, isn't it.

John
January 11, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I could stop all this nonsense tomorrow. Make the person who looses the law suit pay costs.

mark flores
January 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm

What’s up with Xfinity? How did a press release from a pro insurance company lobby become an actual story on its web page? Like the McDonalds case, the above list is oversimplified to the point it becomes dishonest propaganda. If the insurance lobby really wanted tort reform it would support Obamacare. Future medical expenses are one of the main drives of large personal injury awards. The lobby doesn't want tort reform, the lobby wants to do away with lawsuits because to the lobby all lawsuits are frivolous.

Valerie
January 11, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Amazing what lengths some people will go to just to get "free" money, even when it makes them look like crazy idiots, complete fools or just plain stupid!!!

Robert Culbertson
January 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm

It all shows that the stupidity of the general public is alive and well. Just look at our elected officials (both parties). The mere fact that these lawsuits even exist, let alone be actually ruled on with favor, actually confirms that.