While every year there are many legitimate lawsuits that aim to resolve genuine disputes, there are also a small number of frivolous cases that are taken to court. Melbourne lawyer Glenn Duker takes a look at just 4 of the most bizarre lawsuits that have been instigated in the past decade.
Anna Ayala Vs Wendy’s
In March 2005, American woman Anna Ayala claimed she’d found a fingertip within a bowl of chilli ordered from a Wendy’s restaurant. Ayala publically sued the restaurant, causing the franchise to lose millions as a result of the bad publicity. However, it was soon revealed that there were no Wendy’s employees missing a fingertip. After further investigation, the lawsuit was closed when it was found that Ayala herself had placed the fingertip into the chilli in an attempt to extort money from the company. Consequently, Wendy’s took legal action themselves, after which Ayala was charged with grand larceny and sentenced to nine years in jail.
Roy Pearson Vs Chung
In 2007, American judge Roy Pearson gave an all new meaning to the phrase ‘sue the pants off you’ when he sued a small dry cleaner for allegedly losing his pants. Pearson, who was a Washington D.C. judge at the time, claimed that the owners, Jin and Soo Chung, had given him back a cheap imitation instead of the $800 pair he’d left with them. The owners didn’t believe this was the case, but offered to settle with Pearson for $12,000. Pearson was unsatisfied with this, and attempted to sue for a further $67 million. He claimed the ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ sign in the dry cleaner’s window presented an unconditional guarantee, and felt he was entitled to $1500 for each of the 12,000 days the sign had been displayed. The case was ruled in favour of the Chungs, and Pearson was forced to pay all court costs and attorney fees. To top it off, Pearson also lost his job as an administrative law judge due to the questionable behaviour he exhibited throughout the case.
Austin Aitken Vs Fear Factor
In 2005, Austin Aitkin sued American television channel NBC for $2.5 million, claiming that a television program they played had caused him “suffering, injury and great pain”. The offending program – an episode of Fear Factor – featured contestants eating rats. Aitken argued that watching the program caused him to become dizzy and lightheaded, after which he was physically sick and ran into a doorway. The judge ruled the case as being frivolous, and it was thrown out of court.
Roy Werbel Vs Froot Loops
In 2009, American man Roy Werbel attempted to sue Kellogg USA, maker of popular breakfast cereal Froot Loops. His reason? The product contained no real fruit. Werbel claimed that the name of the cereal had misled him, making him believe it contained “real, nutritious fruit”. The case was thrown out of court due to Werbel not properly serving the company, however judges in other cases have ruled that the word ‘froot’ cannot reasonably be interpreted to suggest the presence of fruit.
If you’re looking to begin a lawsuit but don’t want to end up on a list like this one, it’s best to first obtain advice from an experienced litigator, such as solicitor Glenn Duker. We’ll help to determine if litigation is appropriate – simply get in touch today for a confidential discussion of your case.