5 Unbelievably Dumb Lawsuits That Actually Happened
Most stories of frivolous lawsuits are clickbait bullshit, like the infamous lawsuit over coffee being hot. But some, motivated by either a desire for attention or sheer insanity, are real ... and even crazier than you could have imagined.
A Woman Alleged That Disney Stole Her Life Story For Frozen
Frozen, if you can remember anything beyond that fucking song, was loosely based on a Hans Christian Andersen story from the 1800s. Or that's what Disney wants you to think. In reality, or at least in the reality that Isabella Tanikumi lives in, Frozen is a blatant ripoff of her 2010 autobiography, appropriately titled Living My Truth.
By now you're probably recalling how Frozen featured magic, a talking snowman, and several elaborate musical numbers. But any thieving hack can invent supplementary details like those. Only a true artist can invent the elements that Tanikumi claimed Disney stole, including the fact that both stories take place in a village at the base of a snow-covered mountain, feature loving sisters who are close in age, and use open gates as metaphors. Perhaps the biggest gotcha is that both stories contain a key scene set under the moon, because we all know that only the bravest artists use the moon in their work, while most fear and shun it.
Tanikumi sued for $250 million and the immediate cessation of sales of all Frozen merchandise, which at their peak represented 37 percent of America's GDP. Because honestly, what's more likely? That Disney injected some common tropes and their own trademark style into a fairy tale, or that a gigantic corporation capable of employing as many writers as its black heart desires stumbled across a book self-published in Peru and decided that they had to steal this groundbreaking idea about sisters who go on an adventure?
Now, there is a whole genre of frivolous lawsuit wherein the creator of an obscure work will sue the creator of a popular work to get free publicity (a small army of hacks sued J.K. Rowling for the attention). But given that Tanikumi's books aren't easily available, she's been going on about this for years, and she's been alleging that Facebook is suppressing her rambling demands for justice, she appears to be a true believer.
On one hand, her claims are beyond inane, and while the government keeps reminding us that we're not legal experts, it seems like the ruling should obviously be in Disney's favor. On the other hand, Disney responded to the suit by telling Tanikumi to "let it go," so we demand that the courts award her a billion dollars.
A Man Demanded Recreated Wedding Photos From His Photographer, Even Though He's Already Divorced
Lawsuits over the quality of wedding photos are common. Some complaints are legitimate, while others are from people who are upset that photography is not magic. And if you think that's a joke, let's have a look at the case of Todd Remis.
Remis was married in 2003, and sued the studio that handled his wedding photography in 2009, alleging that they took shoddy photos, left the ceremony prematurely, and failed to honor a handshake agreement to touch up some shots. Why it took Remis six years to notice these flaws was unexplained, but save your bafflement for what follows. First Remis demanded a refund, with interest. When the studio responded with photos which they said proved they'd stayed throughout the whole affair, and a bill of their own for an unpaid chunk of their original fee, Remis responded with a lawsuit.
In it, he demanded both the refund and that the "wedding recreated exactly as it was so that the remaining 15 percent of the wedding that was not shot can be shot." It's unclear exactly how that would be accomplished, given the obvious logistical issues, the relentless advancement of time, and, oh yeah, the fact that Remis and his wife began divorce proceedings in 2008. At last word, he didn't even know where his ex was living, and "stand-in for an extremely confusing man's ex-wife" probably isn't an attractive job posting for aspiring models.
Remis became a subject of mockery in the media and legal circles, to which he responded by setting up an entire website to defend himself, possibly because no one had ever explained to him how the internet works. To make the whole matter somehow even sadder, the 44-year-old man's lawsuit was apparently only taken by a firm that no doubt had better things to do because his father was a partner there.
Remis insists that this was all about the principle of the matter, that he wants to use the law to hold a business to a pledge they made. We're sure that mixing absurd demands with unyielding inflexibility while putting it all behind the veneer of a moral high ground did nothing but help his marriage.
A Woman Preemptively Sued NASA So She Can Keep A Vial Of Moon Dust That's Probably Fake
NASA had very, very strict rules about how samples and equipment from the Apollo missions were handled, because the massive scientific endeavor and cultural phenomenon would have been somewhat undercut had Neil Armstrong later appeared on a shopping channel shilling moon rocks. The rules were relaxed in 2014, and some items owned privately by Apollo astronauts went to auction. But for decades, moon dust had been treated with more security than your bank account, to the point where a sting operation was conducted to get a sample back. Don't explain that to Laura Cicco, though, because she believes that she'd been handed a genuine vial of lunar soil.
Cicco's story is that when she was ten years old, her father, who was friends with Neil Armstrong, gave her Armstrong's autograph and a vial of dust from the moon. Cicco said, "Hey, neat," then promptly forgot about it until five years after the death of her parents. When she was going through a box of her mother's possessions, she rediscovered the vial ... and promptly sued NASA to keep them from getting their nerdy hands on it.
It is true that Cicco's father was acquainted with Armstrong through his aviation work, and the autograph given to Laura has been authenticated. But that's where the truth likely ends, as the dust was almost certainly a paternal embellishment. Lab tests on the sample proved inconclusive, but a space historian pointed out that Armstrong respected the rules, and as far as anyone knows, he never gave moon samples to his family or crewmates, let alone the daughters of work friends.
But most telling was NASA's reaction to the lawsuit, which was "Huh? What?" Cicco wanted a court to affirm her ownership before NASA could claim that it's government property, but NASA wants the whole affair dismissed because it's a legal headache over a hypothetical situation. While it's fun to imagine elite NASA commandos kicking down someone's door in the dead of night, NASA's previous crackdowns on private owners only occurred because they tried to make public sales. If Cicco wanted to protect her long-forgotten handful of dust, she could have just not gone blabbing about it in, for example, a highly public lawsuit.
A Woman Sued Her Divorce Lawyers For Not Warning Her That Her Divorce Would End Her Marriage
There are many viable reasons to complain about how a divorce lawyer has handled your separation, but "successfully divorced you from your spouse" seems like it wouldn't be one of them. But that was the objection of a British woman, who attempted -- and failed almost immediately -- to sue the lawyers who represented her in her divorce for failing to advise that divorce proceedings would end in divorce.
The woman had apparently desired a judicial separation -- the Diet Coke of divorce, wherein a couple is separated for all practical legal purposes but still technically remains married. This would have satisfied her Roman Catholic beliefs regarding the sanctity of marriage, because if there's one thing we're sure God loves, it's people trying to dodge around His rules through legal chicanery.
Anyway, she either failed to mention this preference to her lawyers, or only learned about the option later and was upset that the lawyers hadn't suggested it themselves. So let this be a lesson: If you hire divorce lawyers, they're going to callously and counter-productively suggest that you proceed with the divorce instead of encouraging you to talk out your differences and really make it work for the sake of the kids.
A Man Argued That Time Is Open To Interpretation Because He Wanted To Legally Be Considered 49 Instead Of 69
Age discrimination is a serious issue with many legal nuances. How do we prevent employers from discriminating against older workers? What about discrimination from businesses? And how can we best protect the elderly from con artists? These and other important questions were completely ignored when Emile Ratelband attempted to make a mockery of the Dutch legal system by requesting a legal change of his birthday from March 11, 1949 to March 11, 1969.
Ratelband stood in court and argued that temporal existence, much like gender identity, is fluid, even though the court was clearly having its time permanently wasted. The basis of his argument was that he lives in a country where people are free to do what they want, and that time is an unfixed concept akin to a society's collective acceptance of currency value. He felt 49, therefore he must be legally recognized as 49. His high-minded motivation for making this argument was that it would help him score more Tinder dates, and also that young people were ignoring his lifestyle coaching business because he was old, and certainly not for any other conceivable reason whatsoever.
The court's response was the legal equivalent of "Shut the fuck up," ruling that none can escape the cruel march of time (and also that legal records would be useless in Ratelband's fantasy world). Others were quick to point out that Ratelband comparing his situation to the plight of trans people was incredibly sleazy, given that the latter face actual discrimination and relevant consequences like increased suicide rates, whereas Ratelband faces some complaints about his driving on his way to get a cheap Denny's meal.
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