The legal court system is an expensive process that brings justice to victims of crime. Most litigations brought to the bench are serious and legitimate. But… some cases filed are outrageous and absolutely ludicrous. Judges dismiss most of these cases, but sometimes there are completed frivolous cases that have amazing results. The presiding judges have awarded unbelievable amounts of money on behalf of the complaining parties.
Where’s My Girls?
In two separate cases, Anheuser-Busch was sued in 1991 for false advertising. Richard Overton and Richard Harris claimed that the company’s advertisements led them to believe, that after consuming Anheuser-Busch’s beers, they would attract beautiful women. The men were disillusioned when their drunkenness did the opposite.
Overton and Harris were unsuccessful at convincing the judge and the jury of peers, that they suffered from physical, mental and emotional distress.
It’s unlawful to mislead the public with false information and advertisements in Michigan. Anheuser-Busch won the litigation.
The two men lost their lawsuits. Overton and Harris were set back over $10,000 in lawyer fees.
Hot Coffee Spill
Some lawsuits appear ridiculous on the surface. After thorough investigations the contrary is revealed. In early 1992, unwanted media attention was given to McDonald’s when what seemed as a frivolous lawsuit surfaced against them.
Instead of focusing on serving millions of Big Macs across the globe, the mega company was in the public limelight for a lawsuit by Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her personal injury lawyer claimed that she endured severe burns after spilling scalding coffee on herself bought from a local McDonald’s franchise.
The 79 year old woman, a passenger in her grandson’s car, purchased coffee from a McDonald’s restaurant. The vehicle was motionless when she attempted to remove the cup lid to pour packets of cream and sugar. During this time, the entire cup spilled onto her lap, genitals, inner thighs and buttocks causing second and third degree burns. Stella Liebeck was hospitalized for over a week. She underwent skin grafts, debridement and burn care treatments extending over two years.
Prior to Mrs. Liebeck’s infamous case, over 700 claims against McDonald’s existed. For over ten years, McDonald’s was aware of others, with third degree burns experienced from spilling scalding coffee. These cases were dismissed.
Stella Liebeck’s lawyer claimed that the coffee was brewed too hot for public consumption. McDonald’s claimed that they followed franchise guidelines of holding their brew at 190 degrees fahrenheit. They were unwilling to reduce the temperature and jeopardize the ideal coffee taste.
Court experts revealed that the high coffee temperatures were considered dangerous for drinking and enough to burn human flesh. It also failed to address the public with a warning label of hot liquids on the cup.
McDonald’s was found negligent, callous and reckless.
McDonald’s awarded Stella Liebeck $2.7 million as a punitive consequence. It’s two days of coffee sales that McDonald’s would have profited. She was also awarded $160,000 for compensatory damages.
McDonald’s now keeps their coffee below 160 degrees fahrenheit. It also has a visible warning label on the cups of their hot liquid beverages.
A Monkey’s Image
In 2011, within the Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve in Sulawesi, Indonesia lives a curious macaque monkey, named Naruto. He stole the camera of David Slater, a prestigious and honored nature photographer. Naruto, fascinated with mimicking human behavior, took the unattended camera and managed to take a selfie.
It’s the selfie that has raised copyright ownership debates. Organizations similar to Wikipedia and Wikimedia have used the photo under public domain. Slater, who has copyright ownership from Britain, claimed that the monkey’s selfie is not public domain, but his intellectual and artistic property. He also claimed that his British copyright ownership of the monkey’s selfie should be honored worldwide.
Wikipedia claims that a monkey took the picture and it cannot have copyright ownership benefits. Within the U.S. Copyright Office, specific guidelines for granting copyrights does not include benefits for animals. Therefore, Naruto cannot be the owner of the picture.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA filed a lawsuit against Slater. On behalf of the monkey, Naruto, PETA claims that the image is owned by the monkey. PETA would use the copyright royalties to benefit the preservation and care of macaque monkeys in the Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve.
David Slater viewed the suit as frivolous. He petitioned the presiding Judge William Orrick to disregard the lawsuit and honor his British copyright ownership.
After months of unresolved debates, Honorable Judge William Orrick concluded that he supported the definition of the U.S. Copyright Office and that it’s the decision of Congress and the U.S. President to change and grant copyright ownership to animals.
PETA continues to support the monkey and the exploitation of Naruto’s image.
On March 12, 2005, Christopher Roller, an illusionist and self proclaimed “god” has filed a $50,000,000 lawsuit against mega-star magician, David Copperfield. Representing himself in this case, Roller claimed that Copperfield stole his “god given powers” to perform his magic without his consent.
Christopher Roller is convinced that David Copperfield’s sophisticated illusions were executed with supernatural powers bestowed only by God. In 2005, Roller claimed himself and obtained a patent to be “god”. According to the guidelines of his patent, David Copperfield and all illusionists have violated his powers by performing their magic.
Mr. Roller demands that David Copperfield grant him access to his magic secrets, to verify that his illusions were executed free of his “godly powers.” Roller would determine if Copperfield had stolen and infringed upon his powers. If Copperfield refuses to reveal his secrets, Roller would pursue compensation through the courts.
Roller agrees that he will drop the lawsuit if he’s satisfied that his “godly powers” were not violated.
Christopher Roller has not successfully sued David Copperfield.