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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
keith
January 21, 2013 at 7:24 am

Welcome to the era of the entitlement attitude where many think that everyone owes them a living. The lawsuits should be immediately thrown out of the courts and these people should be jailed for wasting time and money.

Jetage87
January 21, 2013 at 7:20 am

I agree but look at the bigger picture. It is the american people that sit on jury's that award these people. How do we fix this?

Paul Smith
January 21, 2013 at 7:19 am

The remedy for frivolous law suits is found in the canon of legal ethics, but judges don't enforce it. Then they cry about the backlog of their dockets. Slapping a 5 to 10k fine on a couple of attorneys would go a long way toward resolving the problem. But there are too many reasons why a case might be lost to stick losers with the tab; an incompetent attorney, for example.

Dayna
January 21, 2013 at 2:53 am

People have become far too happy to blame anyone, everyone for their own ignorance & stupidity. Remember, before you point the finger at someone else, make sure YOUR hands are clean.... common sense, sadly, has become part of the days gone by.

Mike G.
January 21, 2013 at 2:13 am

I almost forgot. ABOLISH TORT LAW please

Mike G.
January 21, 2013 at 2:05 am

Would "if loser pays" was started lawyers would not take losing cases because they would be stiffed, unpaid by their loser clients Ever meet a lawyer that got stiffed? It's a beautiful thing.

Tina
January 21, 2013 at 1:29 am

The Judge should be the Judge and kick them out before it even gets to court.

thos bisse
January 21, 2013 at 12:36 am

John is right, looser pays court costs and attorney fees, this problem would go away. Law schools would loose students. The wantabee litagators would half to find a real job. Congress might be made up of real people with real fealings for their constituants.

Bill
January 20, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Some may be flabbergasted, however, let us start to think and realize where OUR COUNTRY is headed. How about just plain ole "common sense"? Does that exist any longer? Why don't we think about the 1940's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and UTILIZE what we had and what we did with what we had and lets improve on that and maybe we can get some where without losing anything of what this Country/Republic has been founded upon. Come on folks, lets wake up and smell the roses, you may truly enjoy it. I hope we can truly do so the way we are going.

Dr Sol Myers
January 20, 2013 at 9:24 pm

I'm Flabbergasted!