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Over the years, we have heard about multiple lawsuits filed against people and organizations for a variety of reasons, while some of them have been sensible, some have been outright bizarre and silly. Here are 8 weird lawsuits that have been filed by people which will make you wonder if these lawsuits are for real. Sadly, they are. But hey, some of them are so silly they can bring quite a chuckle.
1. Jackie Coogan sued his mother for spending all the earnings he made as a child actor
Jackie Coogan was a child actor who began acting during the silent film era at an early age of four. He was discovered by Charlie Chaplin, and the film The Kid was one of the most significant movies in his career. He was one of the first child stars, and he was heavily merchandised.
It was estimated that Coogan earned $3 to $4 million as a child star. He believed his fortune was well preserved. But, when he turned 21 in October 1935, he found that his mother and stepfather spent all his earnings on diamonds, furs, and cars. When confronted, Coogan’s mother claimed that they made no promises to give him anything. Coogan sued his mother in 1938, but after the legal expenses, he was awarded a mere $126,000, from the $250,000 that remained from his earnings.
This case led to the California Child Actor’s Bill, which is now commonly referred to as “The Coogan Law,” wherein the employer of the actor should set aside 15% of the earnings in a trust.
2. A bear was sued for stealing honey
In 2008, a bear was sued for continuously stealing honey from a Macedonian beekeeper, Zoran Kiseloski. After an entire year of futile attempts to keep the bear away from his beehives by lighting up the area or by playing thumping turbo-folk music to keep the bear away, the exasperated beekeeper went to court. The court found the bear guilty, but since the bear had no owner and was classified as a protected species, the court ordered the state to pay $3,500 dollars for the damages caused to the beehives.
3. A woman sued a dead man’s estate because his flying body parts injured her.
In 2008, 18-year-old Hiroyuki Joho ran in front of an approaching Amtrak train in an effort to catch an inbound Metra train due to arrive in five minutes. After the collision with the Amtrak train traveling at 70 mph, a part of his body flew to the platform and struck a fellow commuter, Gayane Zokhrabov, and knocked her to the ground. Her leg and wrist were broken and her shoulder was injured.
The 58-year-old, Gayane Zokhrabov, sued Joho’s estate for her injuries. Though the court initially dismissed the case saying that the teenager could not have anticipated injuring the commuter, the case was appealed with the theory of “If you do something as stupid as this guy did, you have to be responsible for what comes from it.” Joho’s mother also filed a lawsuit against the Metra for not announcing the delay in the train and for not displaying a warning that the inbound train was an express train. Court records show that the case was settled for an undisclosed amount.
4. A burglar sued a farmhouse owner for setting up a booby trap that injured him.
The Briney’s had inherited an old farmhouse in Mahaska County, Iowa, but left the farmhouse vacant for nearly ten years. Though it was vacant and in poor condition, there were constant burglaries. To avoid this, Edward Briney set up a booby trap in one of the bedrooms with a spring-loaded shotgun that was rigged to fire when the door was opened. The shotgun was aimed to shoot at an intruder’s legs.
A month later, when Marvin Katko broke into the farmhouse, he triggered the shotgun and it injured him in his right ankle. He was fined and arrested for petty larceny, but he then sued the farmhouse owners for his injuries. The court ruled that using such harmful methods when the property was vacant was unreasonable, and that “the law has always placed a higher value upon human safety than upon mere rights in property.” The court awarded Katko $30,000 in damages.
Four years after the case when Briney was asked if he would change anything about the scenario, he stated “I’d have aimed that gun a few feet higher.”
A doctor sued his wife after she filed for a divorce for the return of his kidney or a payment of $1.5 million as compensation.
In 2001, Richard Batista, a neurosurgeon from Long Island, donated his kidney when his wife suffered from renal failure to save her life. In 2005, Mrs. Batista filed for divorce alleging domestic violence and infidelity. Mr. Batista then filed a peculiar lawsuit.
When he found out his wife filed for divorce, he demanded that his wife should return the kidney he donated four years back or pay up $1.5 million which he thought his kidney was worth. Needless to say, the case was tossed out as internal organs were not meant to be marital assets or commodities that can be bought or sold.
6. A patient sued the Saving Hope cast for misrepresenting themselves as medical practitioners during his rectal exam.
William Fischer, a resident from Brampton, Ontario, was a patient at the Brampton Civic Hospital in 2012. He was scheduled to have a rectal examination by his doctor. His doctor was accompanied by two other people for the medical exam, and Fischer assumed they were medical students or practitioners. He later learned that they were one of the casts and a researcher for the TV show Saving Hope.
Fischer sued the doctor, hospital, medical system, and the Saving Hope team for breaching his privacy and sought $100,000 in damages. He alleged that he was led to believe that they were medical practitioners and was not informed that they were doing background research for their show. Both the actor and researcher also allegedly took part in the invasive physical examination without his consent leading to a lawsuit claiming assault and battery. But none of the allegations were proven in court, and no defense statements were filed.
7. A survivor from the Charlie Hebdo shooting sued French media for leaking his whereabouts on live TV.
On 9 January 2012, two days after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris which killed 12 people, the gunmen reached a small printing firm on a quiet industrial estate outside Paris while on a run from the police. Lilian Lepère, a 26-year-old graphic designer, and his boss were present at the firm when they arrived. Upon his boss’s instruction, he hid from the gunmen. He squeezed into a tiny cupboard beneath the sink and stayed there for over eight hours.
While his boss distracted the gunmen, he was contacting the police officials through his phone. But unfortunately during this incident, the TV stations France 2, TF1, and RMC radio revealed the fact that someone was hiding in the printing shop. Though Lepère escaped when the police arrived and shot the gunmen, he still felt the actions of the media had endangered his life. So, he sued them for revealing his whereabouts and for putting his life at risk.
8. A man sued a hospital for misdiagnosing him with cancer.
John Brandrick, a 62-year-old man, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer by the Royal Cornwall Hospital, England. He was told that he would only live a few months. To make the most out of his remaining life, he quit his job and spent all his life’s savings splurging on hotels, restaurants, and holidays.
A year later, the doctors changed their diagnosis to pancreatitis, which is a non-fatal disease. Since Brandrick believed that he only had limited time to live, he got rid of his car, clothes, and even put up his house for sale. And since he was broke by the time he got the new diagnosis, he sought compensation from the hospital for the misdiagnosis which cost him his life’s savings.