Legal systems around the world vary widely, but one thing is
people will file a lawsuit over the the weirdest things. Here are some of
the Weird Law Suits we have discovered from around the globe.
(Yes, we know there are many more, but we only have so much room.)
Timothy Dumouchel, from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
television company for making his wife fat and
children into “lazy channel surfers”.
He said: “I believe the reason I
smoke and drink every day
and my wife is overweight is because we
watched the TV
everyday for the last four years”. The case kept at
two of America’s then 1,058,662 lawyers occupied for a while
the case did not go to the Supreme Court.
In 2004, a
German lawyer, Dr Juergen Graefe, acted for an elderly
pensioner from St Augustin, near Bonn, who was sent a tax demand for
€287 million, even though the woman’s income was only €17,000. Dr
Graefe fixed the problem with one standard letter to the authorities,
but as German law entitles him to calculate his fee based on the amount
of the reduction he obtained, his fee came to €440,234
will be met by the state. There is no evidence that he pushed his luck
by writing a thank-you letter.
And here are some of the
weirdest workplace disputes!
In 1972, at Wakefield Crown
Court in Yorkshire, Reginald Sedgwick was
prosecuted for stealing Cleckheaton railway station. The defendant, a
demolition contractor, was alleged to have destroyed the disused stone
building and cleared the site of 24 tons of track with dishonest
intentions. He admitted the deed, explained that it was done for an
untraced third party, and his lawyer demolished the prosecution’s case,
securing an acquittal.
In 2005, the Massachusetts
Appeals Court was asked to rule on when a
sexual technique was dangerous. Early one morning, a man and woman in a
long-term relationship were engaged in consensual intercourse. During
the passionate event, and, without the man’s consent, the woman
suddenly maneuvered herself in a way that caused him to suffer a penile
fracture. Emergency surgery was required. The court ruled that while
“reckless” sexual conduct may be actionable, “merely negligent” conduct
was not. It dismissed the man’s case.
In 2005, Marina Bai, a Russian
astrologer, sued NASA for £165 million
for “disrupting the balance of the universe”. She claimed that the
space agency’s Deep Impact space probe, which was due to hit a comet
later that year to harvest material from the explosion, was a
“terrorist act”. A Moscow court accepted Russian jurisdiction to hear
the claim but it was eventually rejected.
In 2007, a court in India was
asked to decide whether a vibrating
condom is a contraceptive or a sex toy. The condoms contain a
battery-operated device, and, for the avoidance of doubt, are marketed
as “Crezendo”. Opponents argue it’s a sex toy and thus unlawful in
India, whereas the manufacturer says it’s a contraceptive and
promotional of public health.
In 2006, a young man from
Jiaxing, near Shanghai, found himself in
legal trouble after failing to take advice before putting his soul up
for sale on an online auction site. The posting was eventually removed
by the auctioneer and the seller was told that the advert would be
reinstated only if he could produce written permission to sell his soul
from “a higher authority”.
In 2004, Frank D’Alessandro, a
court official in New York, sued the
city for serious injuries that he sustained when a toilet he was
sitting on exploded leaving him in a pile of porcelain. He claimed $5
million compensation. Reflecting on the demanding physical therapy in
which he must now engage every morning before work, D’Alessandro
declared: “It’s a pain in the ass to do all this stuff.”
A Las Vegas law prohibiting
strippers from fondling customers during
lap dances was ruled by the Nevada Supreme Court in 2006 to be valid.
The issue was whether the local law was unconstitutionally vague and
therefore unenforceable. The law states that “no attendant or server
shall fondle or caress any patron” with intent to arouse him. Lawyers
discussed at length whether grinding (of dancers’ bottoms into men’s
laps) amounted to a fondle or caress, and whether the brushing of
breast into patrons’ faces was prohibited conduct. The local law was
declared valid because the court thought enforcers would be able to
know a fondle or caress if they saw one.
Cathy McGowan, 26, was overjoyed
when a DJ on Radio Buxton told her
that she had correctly answered a quiz question and had won the
competition prize: a Renault Clio. Ecstasy collapsed into despair,
however, when she arrived at the radio station and was presented with a
4-inch model of the car. In 2001, she sued and a judge at Derby County
Court ruled that the now defunct station in Derbyshire had entered into
a legally binding contract with Miss McGowan and ordered its owners to
pay £8,000 for the real vehicle.
In a notorious case heard by
Baron Huddleston in November 1884, Captain
Thomas Dudley and Edwin Stephens were prosecuted for the murder of a
cabin boy, Richard Parker. When the yacht they were sailing from
Southampton to Sydney capsized, they found themselves on a dinghy 1,600
miles from shore. After 20 days adrift, they killed Parker, eating his
liver and drinking his blood to survive. They were rescued four days
later by a German vessel and were convicted of murder at Exeter
Assizes, although their death sentences were later commuted to six
months imprisonment without hard labor. Their defense of “necessity”
In 2005, Pavel M., a Romanian
prisoner serving 20 years for murder,
sued God, founding his claim in contract. He argued that his baptism
was an agreement between him and God under which, in exchange for value
such as prayer, God would keep him out of trouble..
In 1874, Francis Evans Cornish,
while acting as a magistrate in
Winnipeg, Canada, had to try himself on a charge of being drunk in
public. He convicted himself and fined himself five dollars with costs.
But then he stated for the record: “Francis Evans Cornish, taking into
consideration past good behavior, your fine is remitted”.
refused legal permission to name
his son “@” after the keyboard character. Permission was declined on
the legal basis that all names must be capable of being translated into