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Frivolous Lawsuit

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Wait, third-degree burns cost how much to treat?

"I sued Verizon, 'cause I get all depressed any time my cell phone is roaming.
I sued Colorado, 'cause you know, I think it looks a little bit too much like Wyoming!
I sued Neiman Marcus, 'cause they put up their Christmas decorations way out of season.
I sued Ben Affleck ... aww, do I even need a reason?!"

Alice is idling her car out of the driveway when she accidentally bumps into a stranger, Bob. "Ow, my back!" Bob exclaims. "The pain is immeasurable! I'll sue you! I'll sue!"

Someone — usually a stranger, sometimes a friend, occasionally an enemy — has decided to sue Alice in the wake of some minor accident. The plaintiff suffered no real injury, but is suing out of greed, a desire for revenge, or is simply desperate for justice, often with the help of an Ambulance Chaser or otherwise Amoral Attorney. If the judge doesn't laugh the guy out of court, though, our hero must often resort to some variety of Courtroom Antic to discredit her adversary.

The classic sitcom lawsuit is almost always a tort action: the plaintiff is claiming the defendant's negligence harmed them in some way, and is demanding monetary compensation. The actual injury sustained is always minuscule and the amount of damages claimed has to be at least five times what the hero earns in a year. The complaint itself is often just plain silly, such as suing Pizza Building because the X-Treme Meatsa-Treatsaria did not truly deliver "gut-busting meat flavor" as promised.note 


Technically, a frivolous lawsuit is one brought in bad faith — i.e., brought with no intention, expectation, or chance of success. Within the legal system, calling an action frivolous is like calling the lawyer who brought it a certified loon, the legal equivalent of "not even wrong". Much more common are frivolous claims in otherwise reasonable lawsuits and frivolous courtroom motions that only serve to prolong the legal process and harass participants. Another common instance is the lawsuit that, while it is technically not frivolous because it is based on actionable legal fact, said actionable legal fact is hair-splitting, petty, and a Violation of Common Sense (e.g. a ten million dollar suit filed against a restaurant for not putting ketchup on a burger advertised as having ketchup on it — it is technically false advertisingnote  and therefore legally factual and actionable,note  but is the lack of a free packet of ketchup you could apply yourself worth ten million dollars?).


The majority of the truly outrageous examples you might have heard of are filed pro se, without an attorney. That's because none want to touch the craziness with a ten-foot pole. If there's an actual attorney involved who isn't also their own clientnote  the case might not be so frivolous as it first appears. This is particularly common in personal injury, where "only paid if you win" is the standard; the prospect of eating the cost of an unsuccessful case forces attorneys to be very selective about the cases they take, ergo they're not going to take something unless they have very good reason to believe that it will be determined in their favor.

Finally, yet another common lawsuit confused with the Frivolous Lawsuit that may or may not be technically frivolous is the SLAPP — Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, used to censor or intimidate people into withdrawing truthful accusations/statements, not releasing proof of corruption/wrongdoing, or otherwise silencing people. The Church of Scientology is absolutely notorious for this practice (to the point that almost all parodies of it include it), and it's often a favored tactic of the Corrupt Corporate Executive and the occasional celebrity caught in major wrongdoing, where it may overlap with the Streisand Effect.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(b) or its equivalent in a court system that has one, anyone signing a paper to be filed in court is representing to the court that they have made "an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances...." Violation of Rule 11(b) can lead to sanctions, either upon motion by the other party or on the court's own initiative.

In real life, actual frivolous lawsuits will be over long before they get near an actual jury. Repeated filing of frivolous lawsuits, frivolous claims, and frivolous motions will often be met with "contempt of court" charges. Moreover, attorneys have been disbarred for excessive frivolous filings (granted, it takes a long history of accepting worthless cases, making pointless and abusive appeals, and generally pissing everyone off to make them even consider it; bar associations are fairly reluctant to go that far and will never jump straight to disbarment before making use of letters of reprimand, sanctions, and suspensions first).

Likewise, litigants known for repeatedly bringing them can be labeled by the courts as "vexatious" and enjoined from ever filing another without getting court approval first (like disbarment, you really have to fuck up before they'll even consider labeling you as vexatious due to a general reluctance to keep someone from having their day in court. It takes a whole lot of abusive, ridiculous claims, worthless appeals, bad courtroom behavior, unpaid fines, and general egregious misbehavior to get them to even think about forcing you to permanently leave them alone). Even if none of this happens, the case (and others like it) can be banned from itself ever being filed again, at least in both the US and Japanese court systems, if it is summarily dismissed with prejudicenote  which may or may not go as far as the judge calling it frivolous, but is a strong warning to the parties and lawyers involved that trying it or a similar case again will put them at risk of the more severe consequences such as contempt charges, disbarring for attorneys involved, and the like.

Note that Frivolous Lawsuits are the menace of those countries and judicial systems which follow the common law or which follow the judicial sources literally. They are less an issue in those countries which follow the civil law, such as Romano-German judicial system. In several countries, the judge can dismiss a lawsuit completely if he or she sees it as a pointless, frivolous or as an attempt to abuse the judicial system. This is known in the Romano-German system as prohibition of vexatious litigation: law may not be used to cause harm to someone. Abuse of legal rights was prohibited already in the 1734 law in Sweden.

Often this trope is invoked to make an argument about Tort Reform, i.e. limiting the ability to file claims or capping the liable amount of damages. On the one hand, everyone can agree that there sure seem to be a lot of unnecessary cases brought to court, which takes up both time and money that can be better spent. On the other hand, it's hard to argue that the mere fact that someone with an illegitimate claim asks for a ludicrous amount of money means that someone with a legitimate claim should have their legal recourse limited. Particularly since — in the United States at least — most defendants in tort cases insist on a jury trial, and the jury is responsible both for determining fault and deciding the amount of damages to award (if any). Furthermore, many 'outrageous' jury awards are reduced following the inevitable appeal, and highball demands are usually more of a bargaining tactic than anything - they're not expecting that to be the actual award, they're just starting extremely high so that they can negotiate down to the ballpark of what they actually want.

Subtrope of Hilarity Sues. A lawyer who goes after tort claims is called an Ambulance Chaser. See Flopsy when the accident is invoked to scam people.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Scrooge McDuck once crashed a plane, and a man who had nothing to do with this threw himself at the wreckage and sued Scrooge for one "maximajillion" dollars. This is so large that it exceeds what Scrooge, who at one point had three cubic money bins each over 20 stories tall, expected to make over his lifetime. Scrooge himself is portrayed in many stories as being the richest person in the world, which makes the amount appear even more ludicrous.
  • One Donald Duck comic featured a character apparently known as Lawsuit Joe, who makes a living by throwing himself in the path of slow-moving cars and suing the drivers.
  • Played with in Ultimate Spider-Man. After Peter Parker is bitten and receives his powers, he begins to stand up for himself more, eventually refusing to take crap from Jerk Jock Flash Thompson. Flash responds by challenging Peter to a fight and, not knowing his own strength, Peter easily breaks his hand. Flash's family demand the Parkers pay his medical bills for the incident or they'll sue, ignoring the fact that Flash had been beating up Peter for years and he was the one who instigated the fight.
    • For added bitterness, earlier in the volume, the spider bite made Peter ill enough to go to a hospital, and Oscorp wound up sending the Parkers a gift basket and footed the bill out of fear that they'd sue the company. Uncle Ben later explains he knew it was an accident and Peter wound up fine a few days later, so he'd never consider suing.
    • Later still, Norman Osborn, once he discovers what the spider bite did to Peter, toys with the idea of suing his family. His reasoning: The spider was Oscorp property, along with everything the spider produced. Peter has the spider's venom in his blood. Ergo, Peter has stolen Oscorp property.
  • One issue of the Archie Comics had a man intentionally get rear-ended by Veronica so he could sue her. It took Archie, Chuck, and a Zany Scheme to prove that the man had orchestrated the entire thing.
    • Another story had a burglar sue Archie's family after he injured himself tripping on Archie's skateboard while trying to burglarize the Andrews' home. (Naturally, Archie's family was outraged.) It took Dilton Doiley finding an obscure loophole in an very old, forgotten (but not repealed) law to pull the family out.
  • Pinky and the Brain: In Issue #43 of the Animaniacs comics, the Brain gets money by suing a tobacco company in spite of the fact he and Pinky don't smoke. Brain claims "the law has nothing to do with the facts".
  • Dallas Barr once suggests a lawsuit as part of a plan to get around a Longevity Treatment blacklist. It's so frivolous that "even with the judge in my pocket, I'd lose" but there's no actual need to win: thanks to the Cole law, starting the lawsuit is enough to trigger the right legal loophole. At the end of the novel, it's revealed Barr once served in Congress under the alias "Virgin Cole".

    Films — Animated 
  • A string of these set off the plot of The Incredibles. After one man wins a lawsuit blaming Mr. Incredible for injuries incurred while saving his life (since said man was trying to commit suicide), so many people follow that all superheroes are forced into retirement and hiding. Also a case of Artistic License – Law, as no mention is made of Good Samaritan Laws protecting the superheroes in these cases. (However, as MatPat suggests in corresponding theory, the lawsuit happens before Good Samaritan Laws were put in place.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Babylon 5 Made-for-TV Movie River of Souls, a holographic entertainment operator attempts to sue the station with the help of an Ambulance Chaser who Captain Lochley refers to in those exact terms. At the end she takes great pleasure at informing him that, since the business in question was destroyed in the course of the film's events, the grievance was now a moot point and he'd be going home empty-handed. Add to that, part of the lease agreement the owner signed waived rights to sue if damage is done to his property during the course of protecting the station itself, which Lochley has a dozen affidavits attesting to this fact.
  • It's implied that The Bad News Bears started out that way, as a parent—who just happened to be a lawyer—sued the league to get his son on a team. He got the parents of several other rejected children in on the lawsuit, and they ended up making the Bears to accommodate for them.
    Cleveland: Goddamn class action suits are gonna be the ruin of this country. It wasn't so bad when the courts made us take girls; at least the ones that came could play. But now this.
  • Older Than They Think entry: The Three Stooges try their hands at this once they hear of someone slipping in a hotel lobby and suing for thousands (this is before 1950, folks). Naturally, they find ways to fail at pratfalling before they find the owner of the hotel is herself impoverished.
  • The plot of the film The Man Who Sued God. The main character is a fisherman whose boat is destroyed by lightning, but he isn't allowed to claim damages from his insurance company because the lightning was "an act of God." So he sues God. (God is represented in court by clergymen.) In the end, the main character drops his lawsuit, but his efforts aren't in vain since he's won a moral victory. The clergymen then announce that they'll be suing the insurance companies for unauthorised use of their Lord's name.
  • In Liar Liar, Jim Carrey plays Fletcher Reede, an unscrupulous lawyer who, it is implied, specializes in these sorts of cases. One scene also cites the famous Urban Legend of the burglar who injures himself trying to break into a house and successfully sues the homeowner (in the film, it really happened — to a friend/relative of Fletcher's secretary).
  • Denial is about "historian" David Irving's Holocaust denial and his attempt to silence real historian Deborah Lipstadt from calling him a Holocaust denier via a frivolous libel lawsuit against her and her publishers, Penguin Books.

  • In My Sister's Keeper, one thing that attracts Anna to come to the Attorney Campbell to sue for bodily emancipation is Campbell's involvement in a case where a boy sued God for his injury.
  • This is the background to the toad in the Discworld novel The Wee Free Men. He was a lawyer who was employed by a woman to sue her fairy godmother, on the grounds she was promised health, wealth and happiness, and didn't feel particularly happy one day. The godmother's response was to turn him into a toad, and his client into a small hand mirror. The worst part, he says, was when the judge applauded.
    • This seems to be a common thing for magic-users, according to Going Postal:
    Archchancellor Ridcully: Oh, please sue the University. We've got a whole pond full of people who tried to sue the University!
  • Mr. Frankland, a minor character in The Hound of the Baskervilles, liked to sue people as a way of showing off his knowledge of law, including the more obscure points. He was particularly proud of getting one man convicted of trespassing on his own property.
  • Albert Haddock sometimes started these in AP Herbert's Misleading Cases in the Common Law. The intent was for Herbert to demonstrate how preposterous the law was, and it was sometimes suggested that that was why Haddock was doing it as well.
  • In Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years, Adrian's mother sues a shoe shop because the stilettos she bought there fell apart while she was climbing a mountain in them. To Adrian's surprise, she wins the case, when her lawyer successfully argues that the shop ("Shoe Mania!") should have removed the exclamation mark from its name so as not to excite hormonal middle-aged women into making rash purchases.
  • The Bible
    Isaiah 59:4: No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
  • Deconstructed in "Clubland Heroes", which first portrays the meaningfully named Peeter Blame as a petty man, constantly threatening legal action for trivial reasons, and by the end shows him as someone who was absolutely justified in many of his complaints, and was driven to despair by increasing evidence that while the law was on his side, the legal system wasn't.
  • The trial in Annie on My Mind is this through and through. The entire reason Liza and the two teachers are brought to trial is because a homophobic teacher catches Liza and Annie in Ms. Winthrop and Ms. Stevenson's house. The teachers lose their jobs, but the school trustees call the trial ludicrous and fire the corrupt principal.
  • The protagonist of The Dresden Files spent years dealing with harassing lawsuits from Larry Fowler after blowing out most of his talk show's electronics. Given that the only way to find him guilty was for a judge to accept the existence of magic, this mainly served to drain Dresden's bank accounts. This is possibly an inversion of the usual way this trope is played, since the lawsuit is legally frivolous but morally quite sound; Harry's magic really did blow out all the electronics and cause some very expensive damage, and Harry went into the talk show knowing the risk of this but decided to go in anyway, and he (obviously) didn't give Fowler due warning that he was a real-life wizard who carried a high risk of accidentally destroying all the electronics. Based on this, Fowler actually seems quite justified in wanting compensation. However, in a further complication, Fowler himself presumably doesn't believe in magic, so to the best of his knowledge he is launching a frivolous lawsuit against Harry, and his accusations just happen to be true.
  • One minor character in the Carl Hiassen novel Striptease spends the entire book trying to arrange things so he can start one with some wealthy person/organization just so he can be given a large cash settlement to shut up. In the last chapter, he gets into a minor car accident on land owned by a sugar company and sues the property owners, claiming wildly exaggerated injuries.
  • The White-Dwarf Starlet actor Frederick Faversham in G. K. Chesterton's Paradoxes of Mr Pond story "The Crime of Captain Gahagan".
    He was now forgotten in the theatre and remembered only in the law-courts. A dark and crabbed man, still haggardly handsome, he had become famous, or familiar, as a sort of permanent litigant. He was eternally bringing actions against people whom he charged with trivial tricks and distant and disputable wrongs: managers and rivals and the rest.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Archie Bunker tries to cook up a whiplash suit in "Oh My Aching Back", a first-season episode of All in the Family. Because of his unambiguous prejudices, he also insists on having a Jewish lawyer. He gets one, but said lawyer senses the case isn't kosher, and bails.
  • An episode of Babylon 5 has a short skit where a man sues a Vree (aliens that look like Greys and whose ships are flying saucers) because the Vree's great-grandfather abducted the man's great-grandfather and conducted experiments on him. The judge laments under his breath that he always seems to get these sort of cases.
    • Even more amusingly (from the things the judge says), it seems that there's actually a treaty between the Vree government and the Earth Alliance that governs exactly such cases, meaning that these cases must happen all the time in the B5 universe.
    • According to fluff, the Vree aren't the ones doing the abducting. It was most likely the Vorlons and the Streib (who look similar to the Vree but don't have flying saucers).
      • In this specific case, the man claimed to have found records proving it was the ancestor of the specific Vree he was suing.
  • Batman (1966): This is the plot of the pilot episode; the Riddler invokes this when he cleverly tricks the Dynamic Duo into falsely arresting him and then he sues Batman for a million dollars (in the sixties!). The point is not only the money (Bruce Wayne can afford it) but the fact that Batman must reveal his Secret Identity, which would ruin his Super Hero career.
  • On Becker, Becker is sued by his patient, when Becker takes him to the gym for rehab-purposes, and the patient suffers a heart-attack as a result— even though Becker saves his life, and Becker was rehabilitating him in order to prevent an inevitable heart-attack, and accompanied him there for safety-purposes. Becker's insurance company wants to settle, and agrees to clear Becker of all liability and expense; however Becker refuses on principle, even though it costs him considerable time, money and harassment. He ends up managing to get the suit dismissed after a lengthy rant on the stand; however, his behaviour and personality has so antagonised the trial judge that she ends up throwing him in the slammer for contempt.
  • Happens in an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. During the trial, the unwitting hillbillies do very little to help their case until they accidentally divulge the fact that the guy suing them has a girlfriend on the side, at which point, his accomplice lets the cat out of the bag.note 
  • The Brady Bunch was once sued by a man who claimed whiplash in the wake of a collision with the Brady family car. His case was discredited in court when Mike deliberately dropped his briefcase on the floor behind the guy, whose prompt and obviously painless spin in place to face the noise demonstrated just how real his injuries were.
  • In an episode of Coach, Luther sues Hayden after burning his mouth on a hot-off-the-grill bratwurst at Hayden's barbecue. He nearly wins the lawsuit; however, the judge eventually decides that, as Hayden is merely a tenant, he is not liable; the owner of the property is. Since the owner is Luther's girlfriend and both men's boss, he immediately drops the suit before the verdict is officially announced.
  • An episode of CSI: NY revolved around the murder of a woman who made a living from multimillion-dollar Frivolous Lawsuits (for reasons many of which are implied to have been set up by herself). The murderer turns out to be a chef whose life she had completely destroyed and had recently gotten back on his feet...only for him to see her getting ready to pull the same stunt again at his new place of business. You almost feel bad for the guy.
  • Doctor Who: "The Runaway Bride" has a very mild example — Donna threatens to sue a cab driver who refuses to take her to her wedding in Chiswick...because neither she nor the Doctor are carrying any means of paying the fare.
  • In one episode of Frasier, a man in the coffeehouse takes Frasier's seat and acts very rudely to him. Frasier, who has been on the receiving end of much rudeness all day, finally snaps, lifts the man up by his armpits and throws him out of the shop. The next day he goes back to the man to apologize, only for the man to sue for assault. Niles however starts insulting the man, goading him until he very lightly pokes Niles in the chest. Niles immediately throws himself into the nearest table and threatens to counter sue. Frasier is quickly persuaded to play along:
    Man: I barely touched him!
    Frasier: Then you admit you touched him! He admits it! You're all witnesses!
    • Interestingly, Niles is spot-on here. In common law, battery is any offensive touching. Assault can be either an attempted battery or placing someone in reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm. You don't even need to touch someone to complete an assault and the guy poking Niles is a textbook definition of battery.
    • For added humor/irony value, Niles seems to convincingly fake pain as a result of this...only for him to privately admit to Frasier than in his exaggerated fall, he accidentally landed on a fork.
  • The Golden Girls: Blanche gets in a minor accident driving Rose's car and the man she rear-ended sues Rose.
  • In the Inside No. 9 episode "Love's Great Adventure", a character is mentioned to have sued a restaurant for serving olives that weren't already pitted for him.
  • JAG: Harmon Rabb is subjected to a traffic accident scam with an Ambulance Chaser in "Standards of Conduct."
  • The second season of Joan of Arcadia featured the title character's family being sued for "emotional damages" by the boy who caused the accident that paralyzed Joan's older brother. The lawsuit was dropped abruptly after an extended arc, and the character in question was never seen again.
  • In an episode of Lois & Clark, a man pretends to be injured after Supes saves his life, helped by an Ambulance Chaser who thinks successfully suing Superman will make him famous. He even pretends to get further injury when Supes takes a bomb out of the court (through the roof), but then his girlfriend snaps and spills the truth.
  • Malcolm in the Middle's evil grandma does this after slipping on a leaf on the main character's front porch. She is forced to back down when her lawyer meets the family and decides that even if they took the family for everything his cut of the profits wouldn't be as much as he wanted.
  • Played with a bit on Married... with Children. After Bud and Kelly get into a fender bender with a Mercedes, Al bemoans society's litigiousness. But when Bud tells Al that the other guy was at fault, he immediately decides to sue, and has the children play up the severity (read: existence) of their injuries in court. And just to drive home the ridiculousness of the whole thing, it's mentioned in court that they're suing for "a jillion dollars."
    • In another episode, a burglar broke into the Bundy family home while Al was asleep on the couch. As Al woke up, he accidentally touched the burglar on the behind, before realizing what was going on and pummeling the burglar. He was later sued by the burglar for "sexual harassment" and being unable to "work", claiming that Al's punch ruined his career as a burglar, greatly exaggerating his injuries, this along with obvious signs that the burglar's attorney was having a relationship with the judge, and even tried to shake Al's hand with the one in said sling after he won. However, Al got the last laugh when he decked the burglar again, and won a Frivolous Lawsuit of his own by claiming he hurt his hand on the burglar's face.
    • In another episode, a thief entered the shoe store where Al works and Jefferson suggested Al could sue the mall for four million dollars, claiming the incident made him afraid of shoes. The mall sent an investigator who kept an eye on Al. To make matters worse, Al's bowling team were finalists in a tournament and the bowling hall wouldn't let him play barefoot because the last one to do so there sued the place for three million dollars. Eventually, Al decided the championship was more important than money.
    • In another episode, Peggy sees a TV ad about a lawyer who helped a woman to get 2.5 million dollars from her husband for asking her to cook. Peggy tries it with Al by volunteering to cook but Al is so focused on some idea he refuses the offer and the lawsuit idea goes unmentioned for the rest of the episode.
    • Jefferson once fell inside Al's workplace when a wall gave in. Jefferson's claims of injury ended as soon as Al stated they had no insurance.
  • M*A*S*H has several examples of frivolous court martial attempts. In The Trial of Henry Blake, Henry has to defend himself against gurney races, and Radar selling shoes and other things. General Steele brings in several charges against Hawkeye, including impersonating a civilian (The General Flipped at Dawn). In The Novocaine Mutiny, Frank charges Hawkeye with mutiny for disobeying some idiotic orders. In all cases, all the charges are dropped.note 
    • Oddly, in M*A*S*H, the episodes containing legal issues only come about when key characters usually aren't guilty. For example, when Hawkeye is tried for mutiny, it's a case where he was doing what was best for the patients. He's never tried for the many mutinies he actually commits or the times he fails to obey lawful orders.
    • Along the same lines, Radar has a run-in (pun intended) with an elderly Korean man known as "Whiplash Wang". He lost his farm because of the war, so now he fakes traffic accidents and demands money from the military drivers. The situation is played for laughs, but the motivation certainly is not.
  • Murder, She Wrote: Jessica is subjected to a $50 million wrongful death in "Trails and Tribulations", with the Amoral Attorney expecting her insurance company will settle out-of-court for $1 million. He doesn't figure on Jessica's stubbornness.
  • In Only Fools and Horses episode "Hole in One", Del Boy decides to sue the Nag's Head after Uncle Albert falls into its cellar, despite the fact that he incurred no injury (they base the suit on emotional damages) and the Nag's Head offered Del a large settlement. The suit ends up being thrown out when the defense points out that Albert is a trained paratrooper (thus having knowledge of how to fall without injuring himself) and that he has "accidentally" fallen down pub cellars numerous times in the past, and taken the settlements.
  • The Partridge Family: In "The Sound of Money," Shirley accidentally rear-ends a car with the tour bus. There's no damage, but once the driver realizes the family is in show business, he pretends to have injured his back and sues the family for $500,000. Danny enlists Reuben's help in tricking the man into bending over so he can take a picture of it and prove he's lying.
  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: An episode arguing against requirements for handicapped access uses as evidence the example of a handicapped man who would sue commercial shops en masse for not providing him with handicapped access. It would cost more to fight him than to pay the low damages he requested, netting him quite a hefty amount of money. He apparently hadn't even visited many of the stores he claimed to have attempted to enter, because some of them did have handicapped access.
  • Steve Bosell from The Phil Hendrie Show regularly sues anyone and anything for any slight, no matter how minor. For example when his oh so hated neighbor cracks a joke at Steve's expense (often warranted), Steve not only sues him, but his son for laughing at the joke. If he was only in the presence of his neighbor because his wife asked him to, say, pick up groceries or trim the hedges, he will sue her for putting him in a dangerous position. The number of lawsuits Steve filed over the course of the show are innumerable, and every one as inane as the last.
  • In the Sanford and Son episode "Whiplash", Fred ends up getting rear-ended by a white man in Cadillac. He isn't injured, but when his friend Bubba tells him that a friend of his sued for injuries from whiplash injuries, he decides to fake being injured to the point of filing a false police report, getting "advice" from an Ambulance Chaser and finally confronting the hit-and-run driver himself. It all comes crashing down when the driver turns out to be a car thief who stole the Cadillac.
  • Parodied by Saturday Night Live ads for the law firm of Green & Fazio ("Call 1-800-HARASSS. The extra "S" is for extra harassment!").
  • Seinfeld had the Ambulance Chaser Jackie Chiles (an obvious parody of Johnnie Cochran) in at least three cases of this. Every time, he wound up humiliated due to Kramer acting stupid and ignoring his legal advice.
    • In "The Postponement", Kramer sues a coffee chain for burning himself with hot coffee. In the next episode "The Maestro", we meet Jackie Chiles for the first time as Kramer settles the case for free coffee for life, passing up a large cash award in his stupidity.
      Company Representative: We're prepared to offer you free coffee for life, and—
      Kramer: I'll take it!
    • In "The Caddy", Kramer and Elaine sue a woman for "distracting" Kramer while he was driving because she was wearing only a bra top. Jackie Chiles' remark that a bra has to fit "like a glove" is a reference to the O.J. Simpson trial. Kramer's stupidity was again the cause of losing this case, since Jackie had it in the bag when he insisted on checking to see if the bra would fit her.
    • In another episode, Kramer turns his apartment into a cigar bar/smoking room, and the cumulative effects of hours upon hours of concentrated smoke make his skin pallid. They sue the tobacco companies and settle for making Kramer the new Marlboro Man.
      Jackie Chiles: This is the most public yet of my many humiliations.
  • On Silicon Valley, Erlich gets attacked by one of the Techcrunch judges during Pied Piper's first presentation, for sleeping with his wife in part one of the season 1 finale. The second part opens with Pied Piper being allowed to continue because Erlich threatened to sue Techcrunch for allowing the judge to attack him.
  • In an episode of Smallville, Clark beats up a guy for attempting to sexually assault Lana, but the man sues him for his injuries. Clark's X-Ray Vision shows him that the jerk isn't even injured, but he can't tell anybody that. (Apparently Clark's lawyer didn't think of asking for doctor's records, including more conventional X-rays.)
  • In Spin City, Paul was sued for being shot, and lost. The shooting was an accident caused by an elderly security guard recklessly firing his gun and hitting Paul. As a result, the security guard ends up losing his job, which Paul ends up getting blame for, and the security guard sues. To make Paul even more of a Cosmic Plaything, everyone sides with and feels sorry for the guard (including Paul's own co-workers), and the jury ends up making Paul pay him twice what he was suing for.
  • Spitting Image portrayed media tycoon Robert Maxwell this way, in a spoof where he sings his own riff on "Puttin' on the Ritz".
    When I'm feeling in the mood / Someone out there will be sued / I'll nail those gits! / I'm putting out the writs!
    When writers try to criticize / In bios I've not authorized / I'll axe those crits / By putting out the writs!
    Of taking legal action I am weary / So I've only served six writs since January!
    When they put these tales about / I just have to squeeze them out / like little zits / I'm putting out the writs!
  • The West Wing has the President getting sued over his comments regarding car seatbelts.

  • Parodied in a MAD article that details the rise and fall of an advertising campaign, specifically one for a ficticious fast food chain called McDimples. The chain sues a night club with male strippers for using their campaign's new and popular catchphrase, only to learn that said club has been using it for ten years. After being forced to pay a $5 million settlement when counter-sued, they fire their lawyers.

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "I'll Sue Ya" is about a guy who does this. Lyrics include:
    If I sprain my ankle while I'm robbing your place
    If I hurt my knuckles when I punch you in the face
    I'm gonna sue! Sue! Yes, I'm gonna sue!
    Sue! Sue! Yeah, that's what I'm gonna do!
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's "You Saw My Blinker" tells the story of Will being rear-ended and sued by a half-blind 90-year-old woman who shows up to court in a wheelchair and a neck brace.
  • Busdriver's Suing Sony.
    I'm suing Sony due to defamation of a character from a fictional character that was based on meeee...

  • Probable Ur-Example: an Egyptian myth about a thief who breaks into a house via a window, but breaks his leg because of the window's shoddy construction. The homeowner blames the carpenter who put the window together, the carpenter blames a beautiful woman who distracted him, and the woman blames the fellow who dyed her dress red. That dress-dyer doesn't fit in a cell, so a shorter dress-dyer is hauled in, and he can't come up with an excuse to get out. The focus, incidentally, is not on the burglar, but on how crazy the judge authorizing it all is.
    • A variation exists where the last man recommends to hang the thief, the thief is too tall to hang, so a shorter man is brought. The man recommends to dig a hole below the thief's feet. The thief urges them to hurry so that he'll be able to get to heaven soon because a king is needed there... So the local king (who's also the crazy judge) orders himself hanged.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In U.S. Acres, when Orson read the tale of Goldilocks and the three bears and asked if any of the listeners knew what she did after trying the too hot and the too cold bowls of porridge, Lanolin suggested she sued the bears.
  • In one arc of Non Sequitur, Danae tries to sue the state for allowing her teacher to flunk her. The judge throws out the case after calling it the second stupidest thing he'd ever heard.
    Danae's dad: Okay, I'll bite. What was the stupidest?
    Danae: That there's no shortage of lawyers willing to take the case.

  • Our Miss Brooks: In the episode Mr. Travers' Three Acre Lot. Mr. Conklin literally sets Miss Brooks up for a fall so he can sue Mr. Travers' and force the sale of the eponymous lot.

    Video Games 
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, several of the adverts you can hear on the radio are political broadcasts for a fictional Republican senator. The first two imply his Democratic opponent has committed vehicular homicide (on the basis he owns a car of the type responsible for one in the area) and child pornography (on the basis he has not yet stated his opinion on the subject). When he sues the Republican, a third ad notes the Democrat had previously claimed to be against clogging up the courts with frivolous lawsuits, and implies he is a hypocrite ("Would you want your children to become hypocrites? Vote Republican candidate Robert Thorne, the candidate not accused of being a murderous child pornographer!")
  • In Amateur Surgeon, Insurance Fraud Claude makes his fortune by using things in horribly self-destructive ways (for example, drinking paint and shooting himself with a nail gun), the suing the manufacturers for not providing explicit, idiot-proof warnings. After removing several nails and patching the man up properly, Alan notes in the medical journal that they better get Claude out of there quick before he tries to sue them too.

    Web Comics 
  • In Nip and Tuck, a lawsuit against snack food companies is stopped by the observation that no one would sell them any more snacks.
  • In Elf Only Inn, Megan decides to sue McDonald's after learning that french fries are prepared with beef-based products (she's vegan). McDonald's, after being sued for a whole array of ridiculous charges (including the infamous hot coffee incident), decides to settle by offering a total of $100B to be evenly distributed among anyone in the world who admits to being too stupid to know better. Subverted hilariously when Megan, after receiving her settlement payout of $0.30, does the math to prove that she was short-changed, then writes a letter to McDonald's accusing them of the fact - to which they reply that as she is obviously not stupid, she must return her settlement payout or face legal actions for fraud.
  • Kevin & Kell: A bear attacks Kevin, who easily backhands him. The bear responds by suing Kevin, claiming that, as a rabbit, he violated the natural order by fighting back and demanding Kevin's weight in meat. Mei Li gets the case thrown out by pointing out that the bear using the judicial system to attack Kevin is equally unnatural.
  • In the Stand Still, Stay Silent prologue, a man finding out that the ferry he's riding will not be making the return trip from the Bornholm island in Denmark because of a governmental decision to halt boat traffic threatens to sue all the boat's waiters if they don't make the captain turn it back while it's still on the way to its destination.
  • League of Super Redundant Heroes: Good Girl gets a power up that makes her look more archetypally angelic, and finds herself sued by Religion for trademark infringement.

    Web Original 
  • The old flash series Attention Deficit Disorder Man featured Lawsuit Larry, a supervillain who took control over hundreds of organizations by injuring himself on their premises and suing them into oblivion. In the end, he managed to sue and control entire countries; the only way ADD Man was able to defeat him was by making him injure himself from his own products, giving him nobody to sue but himself.
  • Most of the cases in The Sonic Amigos sub-series Retard Court starring Homer Simpson end up being this.

    Western Animation 
  • The New Batman Adventures parodied this with an unnamed Johnnie Cochran lookalike popping up to say a catchy line to support a lawsuit. In the commentary for one such episode, the creators note how dated the joke wound up being.
    • In "Over the Edge", Batman's identity is exposed. Minor villains launch a billion dollar lawsuit against Wayne Enterprises. JC pops in: "If the bat's on a spree, Wayne must pay the fee!"
    • When the Joker somehow acquired vast wealth in "Joker's Millions", he used high-powered lawyers to get acquitted of his various crimes (clearly referencing Cochran's most famous case): "If a man's filled with glee, that man must go free!"
  • Subverted in Clerks: The Animated Series. Jay slips on a wet mess that Randall left on the floor, and Randall taunts him about it. "What are you going to do, sue?" Right on cue, a lawyer walks in to buy some conveniences- but when Randall (yes, Randall) asks him to take on the case, he refuses and leaves. Randall then begins a concerted campaign of harassment until the lawyer finally gives in and agrees to take on the case- against Dante, since he was the store manager at the time.
    • At trial, the lawyer doesn't even show any significant effort, presenting the bare facts of the case without any grandstanding. Unfortunately, Dante still ends up looking really bad because his boss hired Randall (yes, Randall), who presents an incompetent defense.
  • In an episode of The Boondocks, Riley and his grandpa sue the school after Riley's teacher uses the N-word to refer to Riley, just the same as Riley had been throwing it around at everyone else, with fantasies of getting a large sum of money.
  • Happens in the early The Simpsons episode "Bart Gets Hit by a Car". Mr. Burns accidentally hits Bart with his limo; the family attorney 'tricks' Homer into exaggerating the resulting injuries to squeeze more money from Burns.
    Lionel Hutz: Doctor, are you sure there isn't a little soft tissue trauma in the facial area?
    Dr. Nick: Oh yeah, tons of it! [wrapping Bart's head with bandages] Just say when!
    • The irony being they would have gotten something, at least covering Bart's hospital bill as Marge wanted, if they had just told the truth at trial rather than make up false claims. Or if Homer had just taken the half-million Burns had offered him and went home - they ended up with nothing because Homer was greedy.
    • There is also Homer vs. an 'all you can eat' seafood restaurant in "New Kid on the Block." If they kick Homer out before he has had 'all he can eat,' does this make it fraudulent publicity?
      • He stays hours past closing time (he was kicked out because the personnel wanted to go home), forces them to make runs to the grocery store, and eats far more than any thoughtful person would (he emptied the restaurant's entire food stock several times over). 'All you can eat' does not mean 'you can/have to eat it all.' This one ends up getting settled out-of-court; they invite him back, but set Homer up in a glass display and let all the people gawk at him pigging out. It draws boatloads of customers who came to watch, who then decide to try the food — because this restaurant has to be pretty good if he's eating like that.
      • Hutz also mentions in that episode that he sued The Never Ending Story for false advertising.
    • Selma has claimed that she has a lucrative hobby filing 'nuisance lawsuits'.
    • Deconstructed in one of the frequent 'future episodes'. Bart is an unemployed loser who frequently files these to make a quick buck, but it's deconstructed in that none of his ridiculous cases (among them: suing a restaurant for an over-salted french fry, Disneyland for a spider bite received on the premises, and a messenger company for refusing to pay him for his first two weeks of employment) ever goes to court, and it's implied Bart can't find a lawyer to take them all.
    • One time Moe was able to sue a rope company when the rope that he was using to hang himself was weak, he won the case, got a good sum out of it, and a brand new rope with which to hang himself.
    • Once, Homer trips over a hole in the ground next to the church and so sues the church. There is no way that Rev. Lovejoy could afford the sum he wants so he wins the church in court.
    • In "Lisa the Simpson", one of the dozen or so of Homer's relatives that he gathers claims he makes a living by insurance-fraud lawsuits.
    • The Blue-Haired Lawyer who works for Mr. Burns is usually smart enough to avoid something like this, but when he becomes too immoral and threatens to sue Principal Skinner for copyright violation (Springfield Elementary's carnival uses Disney's catchphrase "The Happiest Place on Earth" — just consider that for a minute) Skinner shows them what happens when you make a former Green Beret mad. "Copyright expired", Skinner says after handily taking out the lawyers.
  • South Park:
    • In "Sexual Harassment Panda", Kyle's dad (a lawyer) encourages a string of frivolous sexual harassment suits that culminates in a suit called "Everyone vs. Everyone". In which he represented both sides.
    • In "200", Tom Cruise sues the town for mocking him, and recruits the help of every celebrity who has ever been portrayed on the show, all because Stan called him a fudge packer when that is what he was doing. Literally: he was working at a candy factory, packing fudge into boxes, while wearing the uniform of an employee of that company.
  • Downplayed in one episode of Spongebob Squarepants. While Plankton is faking the injuries he claims to have received from slipping on the wet floor of the Krusty Krab, he really did slip on said floor, and there was no "Wet Floor" sign to warm him of the hazard because Mr. Krabs was too cheap to buy one (something the jury acknowledges in its verdict). Plankton would, therefore, have a legitimate case... if not for the fact that he was only there to commit a felony (i.e. stealing the Krabby Patty formula). Once SpongeBob proves this in court, Krabs is found not guilty.
  • Happened both ways on Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. Harry slips on a dropped piece of butter in a restaurant and falls down. The restaurant owners are heavily insured, and out of fear of Harry filing a lawsuit, they offer him a settlement. Harry doesn't want to take it citing the fact he didn't injure himself, but his honesty is not respected by his family and neighbors who try to pressure him into taking the easy cash being offered. Later on, Harry becomes the defendant when a bicyclist crashes into his stopped car and decides to sue him. His lawyer (Special Guest Don Adams) is particularly inept and Harry is only saved from a losing judgment when the plaintiff suddenly decides to drop the case.
  • On My Gym Partner's a Monkey, Principal Pixiefrog's fear of lawsuits often either drove or exacerbated the wacky hijinks of the episode.
  • King of the Hill:
    • The character Lucky was initially disliked because he entirely sustained himself on frivolous lawsuits and refused to get a job. When we first meet him, he's just bought himself a new truck with money taken from "slippin' on pee-pee on th' Costco." When picked up by an ambulance, he even knows the exact amount of morphine to be given that will dull his pain without damaging his ability to testify. In the original Grand Finale, Lucky accidentally gets injured in Dale's housenote  so he can sue him so he can have an expensive wedding with Luanne. It turns out that Dale built the railing himself—without a permit, makes his own poison (he's an exterminator), is his own boss, and made up a fake liability insurance carrier just to shut Hank up. Lucky's lawyer tries to sue Strickland Propane because Hank suggested that Dale hire Lucky.
      • Lucky later manages to turn this around. After the lawyer refuses to drop the case due to "malpractice reasons", Lucky fakes a video of him playing golf, thus making his suit void. The lawyer tried to "unfake" it to get the suit through, but Lucky manages to get "injured" again in the lawyer's office. Hank promptly threatens to take the case - now against that lawyer - to one of his colleagues, and his threat looks fairly credible as all of the other lawyers in the building are almost lining up in the hall to take it.
    • In another episode, Dale sues the tobacco companies, lying to claim that years of secondhand smoke have made his wife unattractive and destroyed his marriage. When he discovers that the company has (electronic) bugs planted in his house, he tries to exploit it by insulting Nancy at every opportunity, which completely destroys her self-esteem and nearly does destroy their marriage (he didn't tell Nancy what he was doing because she's a bad actress). When Dale finally figures out what he's doing, he cross-examines himself and convinces everyone that he still finds Nancy gorgeous. Ironically, he was suing to get money for Nancy so she could get cosmetic surgery.
  • The Gravedale High episode "Monster on Trial" featured old lady Fresno, who cried whiplash after her car was slightly nudged by Reggie during driving lessons, and sued Max Schneider for a million dollars. Turns out she did that 8 times already, but always wins anyway. She wins the case this time too (entering in a wheelchair), but the case finally gets overturned when she tries the same trick in a minor collision with the judge. So when a plaintiff gets into an accident involving the judge of a previous case, that judge is allowed to declare the lawsuit against himself and his old court ruling void.
    • Fresno also ran a red light when Reggie and Frankentyke chase her through Midtown, so karma nipped her in the bud.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Fly Burgers", Rocko swats a fly named Flecko while cooking burgers. Flecko sees an ad on TV saying how he can make money by suing someone... and he sues Rocko. Rocko is sentenced to 30 days... as a fly. Until the judge sees Flecko at a fancy restaurant, completely uninjured, and turns Rocko back.
  • In the Futurama movie "Into the Wild Green Yonder", Bender is caught in an explosion on Zapp Brannigan's ship, and screams that he can't feel his arms and will never be able to paint again. Kif tells him in a weary voice that you can't sue the military, and Bender gets up.
  • Joe Adler, a recurring incompetent lawyer on Beavis And Butthead, specializes in this (with Beavis and Butthead's help). In the episode "Sexual Harrassment," he decides to sue Beavis and Butthead's classmate Kimberly (as well as their high school and teacher) for giving the boys erections. In the episode "Whiplash," he decides to sue the city and the state for an obviously false case of whiplash (which he helps to create the illusion of), and is arrested for dozens of counts of fraud.
  • Courtney from Total Drama. Her first lawsuit wasn't so unjustified (fellow competitor Harold rigged the votes against her, sending her home instead, and the host of the show didn't care even when the ruse was revealed), but she also bargained for unfair advantages (most notably contact with the outside world via her PDA) along with reentry into the second season. Once she was back in the game, she threatened to sue the producers again every time something didn't go her way. Her lawyers eventually got fed up with her litigious behavior and stopped returning her calls.
  • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Don't Judge Me", Dr. Eggman spends most of the episode in a neck brace, claiming Sonic injured his neck in a battle between them, and attempting to sue him over it. He very nearly gets away with it, too, until Sonic notices him move his neck just fine and points it out near the end of the episode.
  • Pinky and the Brain: In one episode, Brain tries to get money for a plan by getting a job and fake an accident to sue his employer for. Brain pretends to be a human who was turned into a mouse because of an accident he suffered at his workplace and the judge rules on the defendant's favor not because Brain was already a mouse before the "accident" but because the defendant's lawyer convinces the judge that Brain isn't a mouse.
  • A skit from Robot Chicken Star Wars II has an ad for Bob Goldstein, who helps those injured by the "Jeddy", including the Wampa, Ponda Baba, and Darth Maul.

    Real Life 
  • The band The Romantics vs. Activision because "the cover band in Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s sounds too good". The case got thrown out by the judge.
  • Nancy Stouffer, author of The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, who sued J. K. Rowling in 1999 for "plagiarism", because among other things, Rowling used her "Muggles", even though Stouffer's alien Teletubby-like goblins had nothing to do with Rowling's normal humans (and weren't actually called muggles; that was something Stouffer made up to increase her chances of winning) and the word 'muggle' already existed as a somewhat antiquated term for 'dullard'. Ultimately, they dropped the case as fast as it came. Hoping to cash in on No Such Thing as Bad Publicity, a small-time publisher picked the vanity-published original and did a small printing run of Stouffer's book in 2001 - and folded barely a year later.
  • In the music world, the incident of Versailles (a US solo act) vs. Versailles (a Japanese band that predated her by years). Both are, of course, named after a French city that predates them by centuries. The US artist freaked at the thought that the Japanese band was "stealing" Google searches from her, didn't trademark the name until after she'd found out about their existence, and tried to sue them to keep them from ever playing in the United States. The band eventually changed their name to "Versailles Philharmonic Quintet" for their US releases and performances, although they continue to go by simply "Versailles" everywhere else.
  • Hiroshi Matsumoto, brother of the late hide filing one of these against Yoshiki Hayashi of X Japan for using hide's image in X Japan, never mind that X Japan had been the band hide had been with the longest (from 1987 to 1997) and where he had first earned widespread fame. The judge threw out the lawsuit with prejudice around a month after its filing, actually calling it a frivolous lawsuit in the brief doing so.
  • A shining example. In retaliation for bad customer service, as delivered by a "Spanish woman", a man attempted to sue the Bank of America for "1,784 billion, trillion dollars". (Read: More money than actually exists.)
  • Due to a clerical error, Bank of America once tried to foreclose on a home owned by a family who had paid for it in full up front, and had no mortgage or account with them. Despite the fact that they had no legal right to the house whatsoever, the Bank still took it to court. The judge immediately threw it out and ordered the bank to pay the family's legal fees of $2,500. When they didn't, the family obtained a writ of execution and levied upon the bank branch that sued them. The levy meant that the family could take any of the bank's property up to the amount of their judgment, including computers, furniture, and money from the safe. Once the family showed up at the bank branch with police officers and an attorney who were ready to collect, Bank of America finally acknowledged that the lawsuit was a mistake and immediately paid.
  • The Church of Scientology, every time you say anything at all that may be criticizing them. Seriously. If what you say is (according to them) false, it's libel or slander (depending on the medium of dissemination). If it's true, and about any of their doctrine, dogma or practices, it's copyright infringement. Other cases, they just dig around until they find something to pick at. No matter how little the chance of you being a threat. They don't do it for the money, they do it to bankrupt their victims with legal fees, thus shutting them up, plus the potential intimidation factor against people who might want to criticize the Church but would rather not risk getting sued to oblivion for doing so (given that they fought the U.S. Government and won).
  • Senator Ernie Chambers, tired of hearing about frivolous lawsuits, decided to make a point and file one of his own... against God. The kicker? Chambers is atheist.
    • On the other end of the aisle in almost every way: your life sucks? Sue Satan! The "unofficial account" comes from a fictional story and the whole thing reads with such a Deadpan Snarker tone that it's impossible not to laugh. Good luck getting that summons served, as it requires Satan be a resident of the state of Pennsylvania.note  While not binding precedent in Pennsylvania, being a New Hampshire case, the record of Stone v. Scratch may provide some guidance on that count. The judge also notes that the plaintiff neglected to give the court directions on how to serve Satan the complaint. Even if you get past all that, Satan is a lawyer.
  • Jonathan Lee Riches. He's filed thousands of these suits against various celebrities and political figures for questionable reasons, but that's not what pushes him over the edge. No, what pushes him past the Refuge in Audacity line is that his lawsuit against George W. Bush names 783 other defendants, which range from various real-life people to even inanimate objects, including Marco Polo, "various Buddhist Monks", Google, The Da Vinci Code, Norse Gods, Adolf Hitler's National Socialist Party, the Gambino crime family and the Taliban, Mein Kampf, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Garden of Eden, the Ming Dynasty and former planet Pluto. He once sued the Guinness Book of Records for listing him as "the world's most litigious man" (an urban legend going that he did so because the record understated his litigiousness) even though no such record exists.
  • Leo Stoller, a self-styled "intellectual property entrepreneur" (read: con-artist), trademarked such words and phrases as Stealth, Sentra, Dark Star, Air Frame, Stradivarius, Havoc, Chestnut, Trillium, White Line Fever, Fire Power, Love Your Body, Terminator, and many, many more. Once he trademarked a word or phrase, he immediately launched million-dollar lawsuits against people and companies who were casually using those words. His lawsuits have consistently been laughed out of court.
  • Moral Guardian Jack Thompson was infamous for his lawsuits, Courtroom Antics, and legal threats directed at companies ranging from Take-Two Interactive (to attempt to block the sale of Bully) to Nintendo (because a version of Manhunt 2 released on the Wii) to Wendy's (for selling Wii-related toys at one point) to Penny Arcade (for donating to charity in his name after he reneged on a promise) to Wikipedia (claiming information presented about him was incorrect) to Facebook (for not removing malicious posts by users of the service). He was eventually permanently disbarred by the Florida Bar Association, for including gay pornography in one of his court filings, in addition to a lengthy history of abusive personal attacks, frivolous litigation for the purpose of harassment, making false statements, and completely and utterly failing to display regret and remorse or even just admit to wrongdoing.
  • Administrative law judge Roy Pearson sued a small, family-owned laundromat for fifty-four million dollars in damages after they misplaced a pair of his trousers for a day or two. It was finally settled once and for all after roughly four years. He lost, but not before making the life of the laundromat owners thoroughly miserable, even after they made repeated offers to settle for $3000, $4600, and $12000. He's also no longer a judge, thanks in part to this suit.
  • In 2010 San Diego patent lawyer Matthew Pequignot noticed that the patent markings on his Solo cup had expired several years earlier. In response, he sued the company for 11 trillion dollars (over 80% of America's national debt) on behalf of the U.S. government, and would've been eligible to receive half of the fine. He lost the case due to being unable to prove that the company intended to deceive the public, and the company claims they didn't immediately replace the molds because each one costs half a million dollars.
  • Valery Fabrikant is a man who walked into Concordia University in Montreal and shot many of his colleagues in 1992. During his life sentence he's become famous for filing these. So many that in 2000, the Quebec Superior Court declared him a vexatious litigant (meaning he needs the approval of a judge to take any legal proceedings against someone else). A bid to clear that status was dismissed by the Court in 2007.
  • In his book Somebody's Gotta Say It, talk show host Neal Boortz related a story from his legal days where a man entered his office and tried to start a lawsuit over a mislabeled beverage can. Boortz's response was "Get the hell out of my office."
  • Disney Theme Parks:
    • Cast members were filming a training film at Disneyland on what to do if there's been an accident. As soon as the actor fell down, a lawyer appeared from among the bystanders encouraging the "injured" man to sue Disneyland and continued to do so after they walked past the camera.
    • At Disneyland, a guest jumped out of his Skyway cabin in an attempt to injure himself and sue the park. Originally claiming that the door on the cabin was faulty and that he fell out, the court became suspicious of the fact that the man conveniently landed in the only tree below the ride that could have broken his fall and saved his life. Although he continued on with his story, after the cabin door was inspected and revealed to be in working order the guest admitted that he had jumped out of the attraction and was goaded into filing a lawsuit by his family. Nevertheless, the park removed the Skyway shortly after the lawsuit was dismissed in case someone decided to try it again.
    • A humorous example is someone claiming that one of the three little pigs sexually harassed her and caused her to gain weight. She was laughed out of court because the costumes were shown as having inoperable stub-arms.
    • Anyone who's worked at Epcot has probably heard the urban legend of the Hydrolator lawsuit at The Living Seas. According to the tale, a woman sued Disney, claiming eardrum damage from the pressure change during her rapid descent in the Hydrolator. Disney’s lawyers transported the judge and jury to Epcot, took them into the Hydrolator, and operated it with both doors open to establish that there was no actual descent (the hydrolators were stationary elevators that only moved a few feet to simulate a descent to the bottom of the ocean), and the judge dismissed the case on the spot.
  • Hyena researchers sued Disney for defamation of character for their portrayal of the hyena trio in The Lion King (1994). Disney was asked by some of these researchers not to portray the hyenas as evil. Disney responded by portraying the main trio as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains, who also became three major Ensemble Darkhorses.
  • "Dr." Tim Langdell, CEO of Edge Games, claims to own the video game trademark for the word "Edge." The man hasn't made a video game since The '80s, but whenever a video game with the word "Edge" in its name is announced, he jumps on the developer and publisher with a trademark infringement lawsuit. His downfall came when he announced "MIRRORS a game from EDGE", well after Mirror's Edge came out, and promptly sued Electronic Arts over it. EA managed to get Langdell's trademarks pulled and set him and his company up for some serious fraud charges.
  • Westboro Baptist Church does this to its critics. Its most often-used defense is that its right to free speech is being violated. These are the people who picket military funerals because they see the deaths of soldiers as divine punishment for serving a country that tolerates gay people. They even picketed Heath Ledger's funeral. Why? For playing the role of a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain. The general opinion of many people (even in the American Civil Liberties Union) is that they're doing it for money. One theory is that they are deliberately antagonizing people so that they will be assaulted, only to sue for damages, since their protests are, well, deliberately antagonizing, but always in public places where they can legally sue anyone who attacks them over it.
    • Fred Phelps, Sr. (the leader of this church until his death in 2014) was an attorney until he filed a frivolous lawsuit of his own against a court reporter, which ultimately led to his disbarment. The suit was because the court reporter had not given him a report on time as he had asked. He sued her for $22,000. The thing that got him disbarred was the fact that he falsified eight sworn statements which he claimed to have obtained, but he had never contacted any of the people.
    • Another suit that Fred filed was a $50 million class action lawsuit against Sears for being a few days late delivering a TV. 6 years later they settled out of court for $126.
  • Donald Trump once filed a defamation lawsuit for $5 billion against Timothy O’Brien, claiming he had been slandered when O'Brian's book TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald called him a "millionaire" rather than a "billionaire". Although Trump provided testimony to prove his net worth did indeed exceed $7 billion, it was thrown out by the judge, who claimed O’Brien committed no "actual malice" and that Trump could not confirm his true, definite net worth.
  • A class action lawsuit was brought against Apple in 2009 because some older iTunes gift cards advertised that "songs are 99 cents", only for the actual prices to be raised to $1.29.
  • In an instance nicely averted by a cry of "Have your attorney talk to my attorney", self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne threatened to sue Robert Lancaster, manager of a website devoted to debunking Browne's claims. Her — or her lawyers' — argument was that by (back then) calling his site "Stop Sylvia Browne", Lancaster was infringing Browne's trademark: his use of her name, the claim went, "misleads the consumer as to the source or affiliation". They were arguing that someone reading his site, on which nearly every word criticized Sylvia Browne, might mistake it for Browne's own website. Mr. Lancaster had his own lawyers reply to this blatant attempt at a SLAPP; Ms. Browne's lawyers have not to date followed up.
  • When David Letterman left NBC for CBS, NBC threatened to sue him if he used intellectual property from Late Night such as "Stupid Pet Tricks" and the Top Ten list. The problems with this include top ten lists preceding Letterman's show, and the fact that Stupid Pet Tricks actually came from a show which Letterman legally owned the intellectual property of. When both Letterman and Jay Leno mocked them for it, the issue was dropped.
  • Orly Taitz filed numerous lawsuits throughout the presidency of Barack Obama, all claiming that Obama was not a US citizen and therefore ineligible to be President. These lawsuits kept being tossed out of court left, right and center. Taitz was eventually fined $20,000 essentially for wasting the court's time, and it gave her a public perception of being completely barking mad. Even so, she kept right on filing them. She has only been granted a hearing once in 2012, to challenge the Georgia primary. Obama - named as the defendant - did not even send a lawyer to contest it. Taitz's testimony clearly only worsened the judge's opinion, as he still ruled against her. The Drudge Report described the hearing as "Empty Table 1, Orly Taitz 0".
    • On an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher offered Donald Trump one million dollars to release his birth certificate to prove he was not the lovechild of an orangutan, parodying a similar offer Trump had made to President Obama during the birther debacle. Much to everyone's surprise, Trump not only complied, but had his lawyer send a threatening letter to Maher demanding the promised money on penalty of legal action. It never went to court since, as Maher himself put it, jokes made by a comedian on a late night talk show do not constitute a legal contract.
  • Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the ranking member on the US House Intelligence committee, has gotten a reputation for being quite litigious over silly matters. He filed a libel lawsuit against Twitter and a random Republican strategist for $250 million in March 2019 for the former allowing two parody accounts of him, one of his cow (his family are dairy farmers) and one of his mom who’s his campaign manager. The latter is for her making fun of him on the platform. He also sued the parent company of his hometown paper,"The Fresno Bee", for $150 million for mentioning his name in an article about a vineyard he and his siblings own a minority stake in getting sued for sexual harassment because a woman working an event for them on a yacht claimed it was a cocaine-fueled orgy with underage prostitutes. They never claimed he knew about it or that he was involved. He’s also suing a writer for “Esquire” and the magazine’s parent company for $75 million for publishing a story about his family’s dairy farm in Iowa using undocumented workers.
  • Universal Studios once tried to sue Nintendo and several other companies selling Donkey Kong merchandise over allegations that it infringed on the King Kong copyright. What makes this frivolous is that not only was King Kong a Public Domain Character, but Universal themselves had proven he was such in an earlier lawsuit. Furthermore, the judge ruled that even if there had been a copyright, Universal still wouldn't have had a case, saying that, at best, Donkey Kong was a parody of King Kong. Needless to say, they lost, and were forced to pay back every bit of money they had gotten plus damages. Nintendo was so grateful to the lawyer who defended them in the lawsuit that they gave him exclusive rights to name his yachts "Donkey Kong" and later named a successful video game franchise after him. The lawyer's name was John Kirby. To make it even sweeter, Nintendo later (successfully) sued Universal for their King Kong video game, which was itself a blatant ripoff of Donkey Kong.
  • In a joke/urban legend somebody insured his cigars against fire; after smoking them all, he tried to collect the insurance. The insurance company turned the table on him by charging him with arson.
  • Spike Lee's attempt to sue the then-newly-renamed Spike TV. The common joke at the time quickly became wondering if he was going to sue railroad spikes next.
  • There are a couple of lawsuits pending against Casey Anthony, the Florida woman who was tried and acquitted of murdering her daughter, but one complaint filed in October of 2012 was pretty absurd. A Pennsylvania woman sought $3 billion in damages for psychological and emotional distress, claiming that Anthony was a member of the Illuminati who told the plaintiff that she would poison her water and that the plaintiff had secret cameras lodged behind her eyes watching her every move. (A full copy of the complaint can be found here.) The lawsuit was thrown out before a judge could even consider it.
  • Singer Lady Miss Kier of the former group Deee-Lite (of "Groove Is In The Heart" fame) sued Sega, claiming that popular space reporter Ulala of the Space Channel 5 dance game series was created based on her likeness. She promptly lost the lawsuit, as Sega claimed that the creators of Ulala did not even know who Lady Miss Kier or Deee-Lite were when they created her.
  • Monster Cable Products is probably one of the most infamous repeat offenders of this trope. For a time in the 2000s, they aggressively claimed to own the trademark on the word "Monster" and frequently threatened to sue (and occasionally filed lawsuits against) anyone who used the word "Monster" to sell anything. Monster Energy Drink, Disney (for Monsters, Inc.), Monster Mini Golf,, the Chicago Bears (for calling themselves "The Monsters of the Midway"), and the Boston Red Sox (for the Green Monster at their home stadium Fenway Park) were all pressured by the company. The suits all ultimately went nowhere, since Monster Cable's trademarks only extend to audio equipment - such as cables, speakers and headphones.
  • A woman sued P. Diddy for $1 trillion for causing 9/11 and also for allegedly date-raping her and impregnating her circa 1986. $900 billion is for child support and $100 billion is for loss of income. This is roughly the GDP of a decent-sized country (2010, Mozambique). Diddy himself is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in hip hop, and at the time of the suit he was worth only about half a billion. Most articles made it ambigious as to what the outcome of the lawsuit was, but it seems it was dismissed.
  • Record labels want $75 trillion for copyright-related damages. That's five times the US national debt in 2011, and more money than exists on the planet (global GDP is somewhere on the order of US$61 Trillion).
  • The fact that Private Eye do actually lose a lot of libel cases means that anyone who gets criticized in the magazine thinks it's worth a shot. Most of them receive "the reply given in Arkell v. Pressdram". In one example, the owners of The Daily Telegraph threatened to sue over a spoof Telegraph front page treating their own financial arrangements like the MP expenses scandal the paper broke. The Eye pointed out that this was clearly in the "joke" section of the magazine, and could no more be mistaken for a real Telegraph headline than The New Coalition Academy could be mistaken for a real school newsletter. Allegedly, it is considered a mark of seniority amongst the relevant section of the English Bar, much like the first time one buys a round for their old man, or first drives a car, to have represented Pressdram Inc. (the Eye's publisher) in a court case. Of course, this may simply be the Memetic Badass-ery of Private Eye as a maniacal offending machine.
  • The Room director Tommy Wiseau made a laughingstock of himself when he threatened lawsuits to various negative video reviews of the film, claiming that their use of clips from the film violated copyright (the use of short excerpts for the purpose of criticism is protected by the Fair Use section of the U.S. Copyright Act and backed up by extensive court precedent). Most notably, among his targets were two videos on That Guy with the Glasses (one was The Nostalgia Critic's review of the film), whose massive fanbase put Wiseau on the end of a counterattack of epic proportions. They eventually got him to back down, and the reviews are now back up.
  • A famous Pepsi ad showed a series of goodies a kid could get for turning in Pepsi points, culminating in a kid landing a Harrier jet at his school with the caption "7,000,000 POINTS." Then 21-year-old John Leonard actually tried to purchase a Harrier with a $700,000 check at ten cents a Pepsi Point, and sued Pepsi when they refused to take it. Among other things, Leonard demanded a jury composed of "The Pepsi Generation" to hear his claim. The obvious comedic tone of the commercial, the ridiculousness of expecting a school to accommodate individuals arriving via jet, and the fact that $700,000 nowhere near covered the $24 million required to purchase an AV-8B Harrier II all worked against Leonard. The judge quickly threw the case out; in the ruling, the judge noted that any reasonable person would understand that the Harrier offer was a joke. Although just to be safe, Pepsi began airing an updated version of the commercial which increased the Harrier's cost to 700,000,000 Pepsi points.note  This also made any company who used a similar gag in their marketing start including some "prize not actually available" legalese.
  • Katy Perry (stage name) brought legal action againstnote  an Australian fashion designer named Katie Perry (birth name) to stop Katie from using her real name for her label. Katy Perry eventually dropped the suit because it was ridiculous.
  • Al Franken was sued by the Fox News Channel for his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right for using Fox News's motto: "Fair and Balanced". The judge heard both sides' arguments and told them he needed a moment to consider. He stepped out of the courtroom for two seconds before returning and saying, "Your (Fox's) claim is completely without merit, both legally and factually."
  • In 2017, comedian John Oliver was planning to do a story about coal mining on his satirical news show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Mining company Murray Energy got wind of this, and sent Oliver a letter preemptively threatening to sue him if he mentioned the company or their CEO Bob Murray in any way. That would be a clear violation of Oliver's First Amendment rights, given that nothing he was planning to say was libelous. In all likelihood, Murray Energy was hoping to intimidate Oliver into silence with the prospect of a long and costly trial, given that Murray has a history of sending such letters to anyone he thinks will criticize him or his company. Oliver did his story on coal mining anyway, now with special focus on Murray Energy, including directly attacking Bob Murray personally several times, ultimately resulting in John Oliver saying "Eat shit, Bob" on-air. The promised lawsuit predictably came and just as quickly fizzled out, but Murray kept filing for appeals or re-filing the original case for almost three years, all the way to the West Virginia Supreme Court, with the suits only ending because Murray Energy went bankrupt and restructured. It caused HBO's insurance to triple in cost, but did allow John Oliver to discuss SLAPP laws, ending that segment with a huge musical number to once again tell Bob Murray to "Eat shit, Bob".
  • In the year 2014, Lindsay Lohan sued Rockstar Games over Grand Theft Auto V, accusing the company of basing the in-game celebrity Lacey Jonas and the blonde, bikini-clad girl in the game's merchandising materials on her likeness without her permission. The case was thrown out by the judge, as the character's appearance was actually based on that of the fashion model Shelby Welinder, and it was found that Rockstar had absolutely no contact with her whatsoever.
    • Similarly, in 2018, after the release of Red Dead Redemption II, Pinkerton Consulting & Investigation, which still exists as a subsidiary of the Swedish security company Securitas AB, sued Rockstar for royalties due to the portrayal of Pinkertons as antagonists in the game. Take-Two, Rockstar's parent company, successfully counter-sued, arguing that the Pinkertons are such a staple of fiction set in that period that their portrayal should count as fair use and/or public domain, and Pinkerton's case was dismissed.
  • According to the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, if no evidence could be found to support a claim or the plaintiff was found to be using false witness, the plaintiff could be executed. Bear in mind the Code wasn't a codified set of laws (it was only used as a basis for later systems of law after Hammurabi's reign), so much as a list of legal decisions Hammurabi had made in the past, meaning he actually had put at least one person to death for a frivolous lawsuit.
  • Häagen-Dazs, an American ice cream company who designed their name to sound Scandinavian, once brought the American ice cream company Frusen Glädjé (whose name means "Frozen Joy" in Swedish if you remove the accent that was put there to help Americans pronounce it right) to court. Why? Because the Häagen-Dazs people considered it false advertising that Frusen Glädjé were using a Scandinavian-sounding name despite being American. Since Häagen-Dazs were doing the exact same thing with their name (which actually sounds German to most Scandinavians), the court found that by virtue of the unclean hands doctrine (you cannot sue someone else for doing something when you yourself are doing the exact same thing), Häagen-Dazs was barred from suing Frusen Glädjé or indeed anyone else over using faux-Scandinavian names to market ice cream. If you're wondering who could bring such a suit: Only an actual Scandinavian company marketing ice cream with a "We're Scandinavian!" schtick would have grounds, but even then they wouldn't be particularly likely to prevail.
  • Scenario: You're attending a prestigious university for free because your father is a professor there. You don't attend/participate in class. You get a C+, and as a result you don't get the career you wanted. Logical solution: Sue the university for 1.3 million dollars, accusing your professor of sexual discrimination. True to this trope, she lost in court.
  • In December 2012, Sega filed a lawsuit against Level-5 for 900 million yen (US $11 million) alleging that Inazuma Eleven infringes on 2 of Sega's patents by using drag-and-drop and tap commands on a touchscreen to control multiple characters at once, i.e. using the Nintendo DS touchscreen as a freaking touchscreen. In quite possibly the most epic beatdown ever to happen via corporate public statement, Level-5 responded by calmly pointing out that Sega's 2 patents in question are dated 2009 and 2011, whereas Inazuma Eleven was released in 2008, then proceeding to basically call out Sega for patent trolling.
  • Bluehole, the publisher of Battle Royale video game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, first threatened a lawsuit in September 2017 against Epic Games' competing title Fortnite. What made it frivolous was that PUBG did not invent the Batte Royale genre of video games, Fortnite used distinct assets and mechanics to create its own Battle Royale mode instead of copying from PUBG, and that the Unreal engine that powers PUBG is owned by Epic, effectively meaning Bluehole were biting the hand that fed them. By the end of June 2018, however, it was reported that Bluehole withdrew their case, although no explanation was given as to why. The rumor is that Bluehole were envious of Fortnite's success and popularity, which quickly overshadowed them despite them being first to popularize Battle Royale games.
  • The Russian government did this in 2012, believe it or not, suing Madonna for "propagandizing homosexual behavior" during a concert, in a hearing that bordered on the absurd. During the hearing, the prosecutor - who sought $10.7 million - claimed that the singer's so-called "propaganda of perversion" would negatively affect Russia's birthrate and erode the nation's defense capability by depriving the country of future soldiers. The judge almost had to tell court reporters to leave because they were laughing so much, and he eventually threw the case out. As you might expect, Madonna neither attended the hearing nor commented on the result.
  • FunnyJunk vs. The Oatmeal. In short:
    • The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman found out FunnyJunk reposted his comics without permission, and posted an annoyed rant about it on his website. Lawyer Charles Carreon, hired by FunnyJunk, claimed Inman's post constituted defamation of their website and demanded $20,000 in damages. Instead, Inman started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $20,000 for the National Wildlife Foundation and the American Cancer Society—and raised over ten times that. Carreon then sued Inman, Indiegogo, the American Cancer Society, the NWF and a hundred anonymous Internet users, claiming they might commit charity fraud. FunnyJunk dropped their lawsuit after Inman proved he donated the Indiegogo money to charity.
    • After that, Charles Carreon lost it, and began suing everyone under the sun. When he tried to sue a satire site for libel, he managed to make himself a public figure, thus protecting the site under parody laws. His wife invoked Godwin's Law on critics, and ultimately Carreon had to pay $46,100 to the satire site.
  • Jesse Dimmick, who was running from a murder charge in Colorado, sued a couple he took hostage in Kansas for breach of contract after they broke their promise to hide him from the police. Thankfully the ridiculous lawsuit was dismissed and Dimmick was sentenced to 11 years for the kidnapping and 37 years for second-degree murder.
  • In Italian law, every lawsuit must go to a judge before being possibly dismissed, with no punishment whatsoever for it. Thus Italian courts have an enormous backlog for things like a woman suing her daughter in law for not following the family (of the mother in law) recipe for a particular dish, or a stupid crook getting sued for attempting a bank robbery by the same people who foiled and beat him up.
  • The infamous "Superheated McDonald's Coffee" suit, often held high up as the epitome of this, is actually an aversion. The facts of the case are more complicated than most stories mentioning it indicate, but the gist is that the lawsuit was not simply over coffee being hot, but rather being so hot that it's impossible to drink it (they were found to be a good twenty to thirty degrees higher than any other fast-food restaurant that serves coffee; Liebeck ended up with her thighs, buttocks, and genitalia melting and fusing together from the heat), meaning McDonald's should have had no business selling coffee at said temperature. The vast majority of the award was also punitive damages imposed by the jury after finding McDonald's knew this but chose not to do anything about it, even though statistics showed a disproportionate number of people who bought McDonald's coffee got burns - in short, it was the company's disregard for safety that ultimately led to them losing.
  • Similar to Ms. Liebeck's ordeal, Charles Bigbee suing a telephone company after being hit by a drunk driver while inside a phone booth is an infamous aversion of this. As it turns out, Bigbee (who became permanently disabled and lost a leg as a result of the accident) did start with the logical step of suing the driver, but only got a pittance because somehow the driver was never tested for alcohol after the accident and thus there was no proof she was drunk at the time. Bigbee then discovered that the phone booth in question had already been hit and replaced multiple times (it was very close to a busy intersection) and yet the phone company never moved the booth, added guardrails, or even fixed the booth so that the doors wouldn't suddenly jam, which is what prevented Bigby from escaping. Bigbee pretty much had to sue to the phone company to get the money he needed to afford medical care as well as deal with the reduced employment opportunities from his new condition. This misunderstood case serves as a prelude to Swindled's episode on the McDonald's coffee lawsuit.
  • UK-based and Rupert Murdoch-owned broadcasting company British Sky Broadcasting sued Microsoft over the name of their SkyDrive service, which they claimed was copyright infringement. Despite the questionable legality of the suit (BSkyB isn't in the cloud storage business and has no plans to enter it; furthermore, they only operate within the UK, Germany and Italy), Microsoft ended up having to change the name of their service to OneDrive to shut them up. As it turns out, they apparently hold the copyright (or at least believe they do) over the very word "sky", as they also took Hello Games to court over the name of No Man's Sky, a case which took three years to settle.
  • Manhattan resident Anton Purisima sued New York City, the Au Bon Pain bakery, two local hospitals, Kmart and a "Latina" dog owner (apparently he tried to sue everyone he could think of) for two undecillion dollars (that's a two followed by thirty-six zeroes - as What If? points out, that's more than the value of everything ever produced in the history of mankind, plus the estimated worth of every animal, vegetable and mineral on the planet). He sought damages for "civil rights violations, personal injury, discrimination on national origin, retaliation, harassment, fraud, attempted murder, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and conspiracy to defraud", making numerous absurd claims. The full story is here.
  • A man fell asleep in the midst of a Yankees-Red Sox baseball game, which the announcers noticed and commented on. A video of this was then published on the MLB's website, and the Internet, being the Internet, began making fun of him for it. The man decided to sue the MLB and ESPN over this, apparently believing they are the ones throwing the insults around. The lawsuit even calls out an apparent attempt to imply he's gay, completely oblivious to the fact that this is from a parody website and not from MLB's site.
  • A nurse by the name of Sara Hellwege applied for a position at a family-planning clinic in Tampa, Florida. She did not get the position. Why? She mentioned during the application process that she had moral objections to administering certain types of birth control, even though doing so would have explicitly been part of her duty. She claims that hormonal contraceptive methods (such as the Pill) are abortifacients.note  There were no positions available that would allow her to work there without having to administer birth control, or the methods she objected to. So, yes, she essentially told HR that she wouldn't be able to work if she were hired. She promptly sued the clinic for religious discrimination, and the suit was dismissed a year later.
  • The maker of Candy Crush Saga sued Stoic Studios, makers of The Banner Saga series, because of the word "saga", claiming that it could cause confusion and that the two games are closely related. See for yourself how closely this is related to this. One is a viking strategy-RPG with a lot of blood and pillaging, the other is a casual game of clicking on glittering candies. Also, the word "saga" actually means a "viking heroic story", much more befitting a game about vikings. Still, the makers of Candy Crush Saga basically believe they own the words "candy" and "saga", and sue anyone who uses them even in completely unrelated games.
    • As Extra Credits pointed out, part of this is simply down to how US Trademark and Copyright law works - a failure by a company to defend against possible infringement, no matter how inane, can be used in a future case that is infringement as evidence that the company isn't active in protecting its Trademark, and thus has lost legal claim on it, which prompted a similar lawsuit from Bethesda against Mojang over their new game "Scrolls".
  • Filing too many of these was what led to a Creator Breakdown from independent game developer studio Digital Homicide. James and Robert Romine, the two brothers who ran the company, engaged in such blatant abuse of the legal system that it drove them into bankruptcy. As a result of the costs of filing, all of their lawsuits being thrown out, and the extremely negative press they received, Digital Homicide had closed its doors by the end of 2017.
    • In early 2016, James Romine filed a lawsuit against video game journalist Jim Sterling. For some time, Sterling had been covering Digital Homicide by critiquing their asset-flipped games and reporting on their assorted underhanded activities. Romine sued Sterling for $10.7 million, charging that anything Sterling had ever said or written about them was libel. The crux of the lawsuit was an article Sterling published where he alleged a game's artwork had been stolen when it had been legally purchased - Sterling had already noted this, and corrected his article. In fact, Sterling had corrected it so quickly, Romine had to cite Sterling's own retraction to prove it even happened. Romine ended up representing himself since no lawyer would take the case and made his own documents for submission to the court (resulting in nigh incomprehensible legal documents), and Romine also demanded Sterling compensate him for the time he spent researching law so he could file the lawsuit in the first place. The case was eventually dropped in 2017 when Sterling's lawyer drilled into Romine's head how deeply and utterly screwed that Digital Homicide would be if the case ever saw the inside of a courtroom.
    • The Romines attempted to sue 100 anonymous Steam users at the same time they were suing Sterling. The Romines demanded $18 million compensation for criminal destruction of property because the defendants left negative reviews and comments on their games. The prayer of relief demanded any defendant who couldn't pay have their Steam accounts permanently closed as recompense. When Valve found out about the lawsuit, they immediately shut down Digital Homicide's account and purged all of their games from the Steam storefront.note  On top of that, most of the legalese was so vague and broad that the range of defendants could have encompassed anyone that is currently working in, has ever worked in, and ever will work in the video game industry, including content creators on YouTube. A judge threw the case out before it got anywhere near a courtroom.
  • Red Bull once settled a class-action lawsuit out of court. According to Benjamin Careathers, the man who led the charge in filing suit, "consumers of the drink did not benefit from any mental or physical enhancements, though the product states in its advertisement that it 'gives you wings'." In other words, they sued Red Bull because it doesn't actually make you grow wings when you drink it. And this is ignoring the line "actually, Red Bull [does what energy drinks are supposed to do]" that shows up in their advertisements, which could be construed as a disclaimer.
  • A local Polish company named was sued by Apple because of similarity in names; the Apple lawyers argued that the two companies are "easy to get confused". The case never made it to the court.
  • A 2011 case. When a movie called Kac Wawa was released, it was completely reviled by the critics, it failed with most audiences and the movie flopped severely. As a result, the producers tried to sue one of the movie's major detractors, the famed critic Tomasz Raczek, to compensate for their financial losses. The lawsuit barely went anywhere.
  • A woman in Seattle was sued by her neighbor for several hundred thousand dollars because her dog's barking caused him mental anguish and also caused him hearing damage as the barking reached volumes of 120 decibels (that's louder than an ambulance siren and only slightly softer than a jet engine during takeoff). The woman ignored the lawsuit - since it was obviously frivolous and would never stand up in court - and the neighbor won the suit by default because she didn't respond. Now she's at risk of losing her home and it's going to take some serious legal fees for lawyers to overturn the lawsuitnote . However, courts can set aside default judgments “for good cause shown and upon such terms as the court deems just.”
  • General Steel Domestic Sales, Inc. v. Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau, Civil Action No. 1:07-cv-01145-DME-KMT, (Consolidated with Case No. 07-cv-02170). (D. Colo. Mar. 2, 2009): A company that produced prefabricated steel buildings was investigated by California and Colorado authorities for deceptive sales practices (the buildings were fine, but the company misrepresented some important characteristics) under their respective states' consumer protection laws after receiving complaints from dissatisfied customers; these authorities sue. What does the company do? Sue the authorities, the consumers, the Better Business Bureau (which had taken complaints and directed consumers to the authorities), a competitor founded by a disgruntled former employee, and several media outlets for "conspiracy"note  to make it appear that the company was violating consumer protection laws. The funny thing is that because the conspiracy laws are so complicated, this technically wasn't a frivolous suit—it's too hard to prove that they didn't have a chance. That said, when the judge in the case brought by the Colorado authorities made his ruling, he said it was "obvious" that the company had violated the law—something judges don't say lightly when there's parallel litigation on the issue, basically amounting to saying "I could say that the other suit is frivolous, but I won't because that wouldn't be quite right."
  • In 2015, a woman in Nebraska filed papers to sue all homosexual people on behalf of God for alledgedly breaking Christian religious law. Sylvia Ann Driskell, a woman claiming to be an "Ambassador of God", did not seek any monetary payment, but wanted the courts to determine whether or not homosexuality was a sin. She cited no laws in her petition, which was handwritten on notebook paper, riddled with spelling and grammar errors. The only evidence Driskell cited for her claim was a series of Bible verses.note  In other words, Driskell's petition was a seven-page homophobic rant, and she wanted the courts to prove homosexuality was a sin. The case was quickly dismissed on the grounds that there was no demand for relief, no particularized injury, no specifically identified defendant (citing Mayo vs. Satan, listed above), and that the court has no interest or authority in engaging in such theological debate (and to add salt to the wound, some commentators theorized that Driskell was also mentally ill in addition to being extreme in her views). To add insult to more insult, the official record of the case retains all the spelling and grammar errors in the letter. Thus, the case is recorded as:
    I Sylvia Ann Driskell
    Ambassador for Plaintiff's God, and His, Son, Jesus Christ
    Their Given Name, Alis Gay
  • Palmer, Reifler & Associates, P.A. have made careers out of threatening convicted shoplifters with lawsuits for many times the value of whatever they stole and the fines they already paid. Often without even contacting the store that was stolen from. They either settle out of court or get ignored since there is no court order attached. But they keep harassing people with larger and larger sums for months.
  • Not Always Right has had some demonstrations of this. Almost every lawsuit threatened in any story will turn out to be frivolous or fraudulent:
    • This guy wants to sue a town. Not the town government, but the town itself and everyone in it. By the look of things, he appeared to be under the impression that "Boise Idaho" (without a comma) was a company and not a town.
    • This guy, every year, goes to a family's haunted house, comes out bruised, and sues them for it, never winning from a lack of evidence but wasting a lot of their money nonetheless. He eventually gets his comeuppance when they install security cameras and catch him injuring himself - his case is immediately thrown out with that evidence, and the family promptly counter-sues him for three times what he wanted from them, making back nearly every penny they had lost fighting his lawsuits.
    • This woman attempts this, when she enters a bakery and asks them to create a wedding cake and bill her for it, totally ignoring the submitter's insistence that they don't sell cakes or send bills out before she leaves; naturally, none of what she asks for is accomplished. She then begins sending attorneys to the bakery, apparently oblivious to the reason why they all immediately drop her case against the bakery, and ends up going through four of them, probably wasting thousands or even millions of dollars in the process, before she gives up (or, less charitably but more likely, before she gets enough of a bad rep amongst attorneys that they won't take her case, goes pro se, and winds up being declared a vexatious litigant).
  • Eric Hoffman decided to sue Steve Asheim for unpaid publishing royalties on Scars of the Crucifix shortly after he quit, claiming that he had written the entire album and should be paid accordingly. The problem was that this was complete and utter bullshit; Asheim had written the vast majority of the album, and during the discovery process, Asheim handed over a teaching video that he had recorded to demonstrate to Eric how to play his parts that Asheim had written. Eric Hoffman's lawyer subsequently relieved himself of his duty because continuing to represent someone for a case that was now obviously frivolous would be a serious ethics violation, and Eric dropped the case immediately after.
  • Frivolous lawsuits involving taking advantage of generosity have become a problem in China, in which people who injure themselves in public, if someone helps them, either sues the person who helped them, accusing them of hurting them in the first place, in hopes of getting money; or will milk their hospital stay for as long as they can and send the bill to the person who helped them. It's gotten to where shipping company Alibaba has created "Good Samaritan insurance," where someone who's covered, if they're struck by a situation like this, will receive legal assistance from Alibaba to fight back.
    • Tragically, this has led to a culture where someone can be horrifically injured in a public place and nobody will make the slightest move to render them any assistance whatsoever, for fear of being sued, most infamously in the horrible case of the Death of Wang Yue, a 2-year old girl who was run over by two cars and left lying on the road for seven minutes while 18 passers-by went around her, until she was finally rescued by a rubbish scavenger.
  • You get a $1.50 Kit Kat bar that happens to not have the wafers inside it, so you basically get a chocolate bar. What do you do? Demand a lifetime's supply of Kit Kat bars, that's what you do!
  • There is a small Turkish town that is named Batman and has decided to try and leverage its rather infamous name for profit at least once. It tried to sue Warner Brothers over The Dark Knight for using its name without asking and claimed the movie led to a series of unsolved murders and a high rate of female suicides, demanding a share of the royalties from the highly successful movie. The lawsuit was not successful.
  • A woman sues Starbucks Coffee for $5 million, claiming the company short-changes customers by filling chilled beverages with too much ice. Starbucks immediately fired back in a press statement that the suit has no merit. Ultimately dismissed with prejudice by the judge.
  • The use of frivolous lawsuits (and countersuits) has become the raison d'être of innumerable litigants, as seen above - but the 'sovereign citizen' movementsExplanation , such as Posse Comitatus, Freeman-On-The-Land, and Moorish Law, take it to new heights, as described by an Alberta judge in the judgement for the 2012 suit Meads v. Meads. The judicial officer in question gleefully enters Sarcasm Mode at the start of the almost 200-page long document, and the feeling that they're fed up with the whole situation doesn't let up at any point.
  • A mother in California sued Spin Master because her child's Hatchimal, one of the company's toys, did not hatch. She claimed it was trickery. It turned out the reason the robot did not hatch was that the batteries were dead.
  • Weaponized by a woman in Connecticut, whose insurance company wouldn't cover the surgeries needed for her broken wrist unless she had some sort of lawsuit, so she sued her eight year old nephew for acting "unreasonably" when he jumped into her arms, knowing full well that the jury would throw it out. Unfortunately, this also got her labeled the "meanest Aunt in America" because people only looked at the overarching facts, not the underlying circumstances.
  • After beating one of his prostitutes and her customer with an Air Jordan, Portland pimp Sirgiorgiro Clardy was sentenced to 100 years in prison. What did he do? He sued Nike for not putting warning labels that the shoe could cause injury.
  • In 2017, real estate site Zillow threatened to sue Kate Wagner, the owner of the blog McMansion Hell, for using photos obtained from Zillow's website to mock what Wagner perceived as ugly architecture design. Zillow sent a letter to Wagner claiming her use of Zillow photos was in violation of copyright laws, and did not apply under fair use. However, the company would eventually admit that it technically doesn't own the photos posted on its website, meaning they were hoping to intimidate Wagner into taking the pictures down. Wagner eventually agreed to stop using any more of Zillow's photos, but the ones she had already posted were allowed to stay up with no changes.
  • In August 2019, a man sued Popeye's Chicken for denial of a clearly advertised service because the chain was sold out of their new chicken sandwiches nationwide. He claimed the lawsuit was filed because the chain was simply denying him the ability to purchase and try the new sandwich for no reason.
  • In October 2018, YouTuber AuronPlay was taken to court. The lawsuit was filed by Josep Bartomeu, the president of Barcelona FC, because AuronPlay compared Bartomeu to Nobita from Doraemon. Why Bartomeu was so offended by the comparison is anyone's guess, but the notice meant that AuronPlay had to appear in court, at which point a judge immediately threw the case out.
  • In February 2020, following a controversial Super Bowl halftime show, a conservative Christian activist by the name of Dave Daubenmire attempted to file a lawsuit against the NFL for 867 trillion dollars. That's more than the entire GDP of the United States! Over a show that he found to be too sexual, but was not, in any way, forced to watch, despite his claims to the contrary.
  • In 2007, a small California-based internet media company named Positive Ions, Inc., run by a "visionary" businessman (read: trademark troll) named Dave Behar, attempted to sue Ion Televison under the claim that Positive Ions owned the trademark to the word "Ion", and even tried to force the network to rebrand again (they had previously been known as i and PAX). The lawsuit ended in a $1.7 million settlement awarded to Positive Ions, however Ion Television has continued calling itself "Ion" to this day as if nothing happened, while Positive Ions and other companies run by Behar vanished without a trace sometime in the 2010s.
  • In 2019, one guy from Michigan attempted to sue multiple different animation companies and even Deviant Art. He claimed that during the 1980s, he'd single-handedly invented anime, and "the Japanese" had stolen it and rebranded it to hide their theft. He also accused The Simpsons of being copied from his style, and claimed that he'd written Naruto. Since he was representing himself and his case was obviously completely bereft of even the slightest merit — for one thing, anime has been around for a lot longer than the Eighties — the case was conclusively dismissed with prejudice.
  • On June 2020, Erik Estavillo decided to sue the game-streaming site Twitch because many of the female streamers there were suggestive and that, as a self-proclaimed "sex addict", he can't help but be turned on and... do unsavory things. Whether this lawsuit is going to go through or not remains to be seen.
  • In 2005, an obscure Canadian folk band named the Wyrd Sisters sued Warner Bros. and members of Pulp and Radiohead over the Weird Sisters band in the film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, claiming that Warner Bros. legal department wrote to them, asking them to sign an agreement regarding the fictional group's name in exchange for (initially) CAN$50,000, and the idea had to be scrapped. The band even tried to block the film's Canadian release. Ultimately, the lawsuit went nowhere and was settled circa March 2010. Members of the Harry Potter fandom went on the attack against Wyrd Sisters, pointing out that references to Weird Sisters or Wyrd Sisters go back centuries, including three characters in Shakespeare's MacBeth.


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