We have all been a victim of an unfortunate circumstance, but most of us just blame bad luck. However, there are some people who take it to the extreme and sue.
Though most of these crazy suits get thrown out, sometimes, they're not and the person wins a lot of money. Read on to find out just how touchy American litigation culture can be.
An Apartment Filled with Other People’s Poop
Yes. You read that correctly. And there's no exaggeration here. Jocelyn Shepherd moved into her Atlanta apartment in 2013 and shortly after saw a few problems coming up. There were some more-or-less normal things like issues with water, but then something else happened: Poop.
We've all heard the phrase “s*** happens.” Well, in Shepherd’s case, it was quite literal. Feces from the other apartments in the building (not just her apartment) began seeping from the toilet, sinks, and even the pipes in the walls and the floors and was spilling out into her apartment.
According to AOL, Shepherd told WXIA-TV in Atlanta, “My bathroom is just full of everybody's feces. The tub, filled with feces. There's mildew, mold coming down the wall.”
Her children went to stay with a family friend but Shepherd stayed put (for some reason), but she refused to pay rent. This, in turn, caused the property manager to refuse any repairs because the tenant wasn't paying her rent. Talk about a stinky, vicious cycle.
However, AOL explained, “Landlords who don't comply by keeping their property habitable can face law enforcement action, including fines and/or jail time. Depending on state law, tenants who find themselves in a situation like Shepherd's have the right to withhold rent until the problem is fixed, or even end a lease agreement and move out without paying the full term of the agreement.”
Aunt Sues 8-Year-Old Nephew for Wrist-Breaking Hug
It’s all in the headline. You honestly can’t make this stuff up. Jennifer Connell sued her 8-year-old nephew after he jumped into her arms during his birthday celebration and broke her wrist.
She went on the Today Show and explained, “It was a formality with an insurance claim.” Apparently, she needed to sue the child so his family would pay for her damages, including hospital bills and therapy, but the question viewers had was why did it have to go to court?
Why couldn’t the family just explain the incident to their insurance company? Apparently suing is common when it comes to personal injury or someone’s home, but the fact that it was a child, and not, for instance, a corner table she tripped on, is why the case was thrown out and Connell was awarded nothing.
Sleeping Man at Stadium Sues ESPN, MLB, and the Yankees
Andrew Robert Rector sued the broadcasting company of ESPN, the MLB, and his home team of the New York Yankees for $10 million. The reason for the huge suit? He was filmed while sleeping at the game.
The announcers made a few comments about him when he showed up on the camera, as it was only the fourth inning and Rector was out cold.
The New York Daily News reports, “Rector’s suit alleged ESPN broadcasters Dan Shulman and John Kruk went on an 'unending verbal crusade' using words like 'stupor,' 'fatty,' and 'stupid' to describe him, along with other 'vituperative utterances.'"
However, during the recording, the announcers do no such thing. Of course, Rector's suit was thrown out. Good luck staying awake next time!
Woman Sues McDonald's For Hot Coffee Burns (and Wins)
On Feb. 27, 1992, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old grandmother ordered a cup of coffee at a McDonald's drive-thru. She placed the cup in her lap and pulled the car forward; when she went to open the lid to add cream and sugar, the entire cup spilled into her lap. She sued McDonald's for her resulting burns.
Now, while this seems absurd and definitely the fault of the person opening the coffee, the fact is she did sustain some serious injuries including third-degree burns on 6 percent of her body. This led to an eight-day stay in the hospital as well as several skin grafts to help repair the burnt skin. Her medical bills totaled around $11,000 and she originally asked McDonald’s for $20,000.
McDonald’s then countered with an offer of $800 (which is just as absurd). This went back and forth until finally, Liebeck’s counsel sued McDonald’s for a “defectively manufactured” product saying the coffee was so hot that it was defective and dangerous. McDonald’s said essentially it was her fault, and they refused to settle.
The case went in front of a jury and after the trial, McDonald’s had to pay Liebeck $160,000 (originally $200,000 but the jury said the incident was 20 perfect her fault). Then came the punitive damages, which is the real kicker. McDonald’s had to pay Liebeck $2.7 million. The judge lowered this amount to $400,000, which resulted in more back and forth until they settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
Man Sues Government for Falling Pine Cone
Sean Mace was visiting San Francisco for the Fleet Week air show when he found a nice place to lay down and take a nap. He never suspected he was sleeping under a tree that could change his life the way it did.
The bunya pine tree under which he was sleeping produces massive pine cones that can weigh up to 40 pounds; one of them happened to fall and land directly on Mace’s head. It was only about 15 pounds luckily, but the result was a crushed skull.
So, as silly as a falling pine cone sounds, it was actually a serious matter. The San Francisco Gate explains, “He was rushed to the hospital and had immediate surgery to remove bits of skull and relieve the pressure on his brain.”
Following the surgeries he had to endure, his lawyers said the pine cone incident left him with a traumatic brain injury. That is why they sued the U.S Department of National Parks for $5 million. Mace wants there to be appropriate signage around to warn park-goers, especially children.
Neighbor Sues Neighbor Over Barking Dog (and Wins!)
Woodrow Thompson sued Denise Norton for her dog, Cawper, in a 36-page document.
ABC News reported on Thompson's claims, saying, “The lawsuit called the dog an outrage, with intentional infliction of emotional distress, and claimed the dog's barking caused profound emotional distress."
Thompson says the dog’s bark reached 128 decibels, which is as loud as a bolt of thunder being heard through double-pane windows. To the common person, that is just ludicrous, which is exactly what Norton thought when she received the suit. And that is the reason why she didn’t respond: she thought it was a joke. "In my head, everything was so bogus that he'd been doing, I don't know why, I just didn't think it was real or something," she said.
"In my head, everything was so bogus that he'd been doing, I don't know why, I just didn't think it was real or something," she said.
As a result of doing nothing, she lost the case by default and is supposed to pay Thompson the $500,000. She has since filed an appeal, of course.