by Allison Teetsel on Jan 19, 2016
A lawsuit is nothing to laugh at – except when it comes with a claim so ridiculous that you can’t help yourself. These frivolous lawsuits had us in stitches (and reminded us why business liability insurance is so important)! We thought that you might appreciate some insurance humor, too. Without further ado, we present our picks for Most Outrageous Lawsuits Against Big Businesses:
This is probably the most famous and most misunderstood “frivolous” lawsuit. 80-year-old Stella Liebeck spilled a McDonald's coffee in her lap, causing third-degree burns on her legs, lap, and groin area. After she filed the lawsuit, many people rushed to judgement against Liebeck without hearing the full story. After all, coffee is supposed to be hot. In reality, McDonalds has had over 700 complaints filed concerning the scalding temperature of its coffee, which is served between 180 and 190 degrees (compared with 140 degrees at the average restaurant). Liebeck’s original lawsuit requested a mere $800 to cover the cost of skin grafts, but McDonald’s refused. Ultimately, the jury settled, awarding Liebeck $2.7 million.
We’re all familiar with beer ads, but most of us don’t expect a six-pack of Bud Lite to conjure up visions of beautiful women lounging on a balmy beach—unlike Richard Overton. Overton sought damages for $10,000, claiming that Anheuser-Busch’s deceptive marketing caused him emotional and psychological distress. Fortunately, the case was dismissed.
In 2009, Google Maps advised Lauren Rosenberg to walk on the freeway to get to her destination, causing her to be hit by a car. Rosenberg responded by suing Google to the tune of $100,000, claiming that Google should have used its Street View to illustrate the hazards of walking in the area.
Dealing with customer service can be frustrating at times, but is time spent on the phone resolving an issue worth suing over? According to Dalton Chiscolm it is. Chiscolm sued Bank of America after he made several phone calls to resolve problems with incorrectly deposited checks. According to Chiscolm, he received “inconsistent information” from a bank employee. So how much was his trouble worth? According to Chiscolm, "1,784 BILLION, TRILLION Dollars". That’s more than the gross domestic product of the entire planet! To add to the absurdity, Chiscolm requested that the money be deposited in his account the next day. He also sought an additional $200,164,000 for his troubles. The case was thrown out, mainly because there was no federal cause of action for the lawsuit.
Kellogg sued Exxon, claiming that the Exxon spokesperson looked too similar to Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes mascot, Tony the Tiger. This actually sounds like a reasonable lawsuit, until you realize that both corporations had been using their respective mascots for over 30 years at the time. Having concern for trademarking is understandable, but why wait so long?
Is your business protected from frivolous lawsuits? Learn more about Business Liability Insurance. Contact The Reis Group.