1971: Inmate Gerald Mayo made legal history by trying to sue "Satan and his staff" for violating his rights by "placing irresistible temptation in his path." The judge dismissed the case because Satan lived outside the court's jurisdiction, and federal marshals were unable to bring him to the court.
Pomona Progress Bulletin - Dec 9, 1971
Suing the Devil was also the theme of a 2010 film starring Malcolm McDowell as Satan.
The dispute began in 1935 between two toy and candy companies, both based in the town of Santa Claus, Indiana. On one side there was Santa Claus, Inc. On the other side was Santa Claus of Santa Claus, Inc. The former alleged that the latter shouldn't have chosen such a similar name.
In response, Santa Claus of Santa Claus, Inc. charged that its rival illegally put up a 25-foot, 20-ton Santa statue on land leased to Santa Claus of Santa Claus, Inc.
In October 1990, the Sun ran a story about a 101-year old woman who supposedly had to quit her job as a newspaper carrier because she got pregnant after being seduced by a reclusive millionaire on her route. The story, of course, was totally false. However, the Sun also ran a picture with the article of a real woman, 96-year-old Nellie Mitchell of Arkansas.
Mitchell sued, charging invasion of privacy (she had never given them permission to use her photo) and emotional distress, because she now had to endure people asking her when the baby was due. During the trial, the editor of the Sun explained that they had needed a picture to go along with the fake story, and had found in their archive a photo of Mitchell taken in 1986. They had used it, assuming she must have been dead by then. And dead people can't sue for damages.
Mitchell won and was awarded $150,000 in compensatory damages and $850,000 in punitive damages.
2013: Paul Chulhie Kim filed suit against the IRS for $20 million in damages, alleging that he had been waiting 24 years for them to get back to him about his job application. On account of this long wait, he said, he had suffered various health problems including "starvation, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, pneumonia, seizures, cancer [and] mental illness." It seems that he never bothered to try to get a different job. He wanted the $20 million to "restore [his] trust in the American people and restore confidence in [his] natural United States citizenship."
The judge noted that Kim appeared to be hinting that some kind of employment discrimination had occurred, without stating this explicitly. But even so, because Kim had waited so long to file his case, the statute of limitations had long since expired. So the judge dismissed the case.
Kim appealed the decision, but the appeals court affirmed the District Court's decision.
October 1939: The Supreme Court refused to hear the case of C. Leon De Aryan, thereby ending his legal campaign to recover the one cent of sales tax he believed he had been incorrectly charged.
Actually, it was worse than that. The actual amount of the excess charge in question was closer to one-half a cent. De Aryan had bought 15 cents worth of cardboard, and had been charged one cent of sales tax on this purchase. He noted that the tax was three percent. Therefore, he should only have been charged approximately one-half cent of tax, but the retailer rounded up.
I'm guessing De Aryan spent a lot more than one cent in court costs.
San Pedro News-Pilot - Oct 9, 1939
This recalls the 1979 case of Frank Makara who felt he had been overcharged $1.95 at the gas station and took his case all the way to the Supreme Court — which then refused to hear it, as it did with De Aryan's case.
Rod Stewart is known to be a huge soccer fan, and at his concerts he often kicks soccer balls out into the audience.
At a 1989 concert, a ball struck the hand of a woman in the audience, Patricia Boughton, who subsequently sued Stewart claiming the incident had permanently injured her middle finger.
Her husband later also filed suit, on the grounds that his wife's hand injury had led to the breakup of their marriage. He explained, "If she hit that hand on something it was all over. To get into sexual activity, it was very difficult... It was like walking around trying not to break something."
Stewart eventually settled the suit for $17,000, which was less than the Boughtons had been hoping for.
Lansing State Journal - Oct 11, 1992
However, Stewart didn't stop kicking balls at his concerts. And as UltimateClassicRock.com reports, the injuries continued. At a 2002 concert, a man suffered a broken little finger after shielding his face from one of Stewart's balls. And another fan had his nose broken when it was hit by a soccer ball at a 2012 concert in Las Vegas.
In response to the lawsuits, Stewart has said that fans should know that his concerts are a "contact sport."
The video below shows Stewart kicking soccer balls at a concert.
If there were a Cheapskate's Hall of Fame, the Chicago Board of Education would surely have to be in it. In 1994, after gym teacher Clarence Notree heroically saved a group of children from a gunman who had entered the school gym by shielding them with his body, the Board of Education informed him that he wasn't entitled to Workers Compensation for his injuries because saving children wasn't technically part of his job.
After a protracted legal battle, he did finally get a settlement of $13,447.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.