Legal Follies: 40 Intriguing Lawsuits That Made Headlines – Part 2

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1Disney Lawsuit

Disney Lawsuit

Disney once sued three daycare centers in Florida for unauthorized use of their characters (5 foot high likenesses on murals on the buildings), who had to remove them. Universal, in turn, let the centers use Scooby-Doo, Flintstones & their other Hanna-Barbera characters.

2. In 1919, Ford wanted to use extra profits to raise employee wages and employ more people. The Dodge Brothers sued Henry Ford in 1919 on the grounds that a company should act in the interests of its shareholders and not for the good of society, its customers or its employees and they won. This set the precedent for current US corporate law.

3. In 1971, one Iowa farmer booby-trapped his farmhouse which resulted in a burglar’s legs being shot with a shotgun. The burglar sued him and won. Later, when asked if he would do anything different, the man stated: “I’d have aimed that gun a few feet higher.”

4. In 2015, an American man named Benjamin Careathers sued RedBull for ‘false advertising’ claiming that after 10 years of consuming the product, he grew no wings, or enhanced physical or intellectual performance.

5. A survivor of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris sued French media after giving away his location, on live TV, during the shooting.

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6The Polar Express Lawsuit

The Polar Express Lawsuit

In 2010, a Florida jail forced some inmates to watch The Polar Express on repeat. One inmate filed a lawsuit claiming that “I hear those little kids screaming through my brain.”

7. After a doctor named Richard Barista was slapped with divorce papers from his wife, he sued her for the return of the kidney he gave her 8 years ago. He requested her to pay $1.5 million for the organ he donated and insisted his cash-for-kidney claim was a direct result of his wife’s behavior.

8. In 2001, a Hooter’s restaurant held a sales contest offering the prize of a new Toyota (which was actually April Fools’ joke). When a waitress won, she was given a new toy “Yoda". She sued the restaurant alleging fraudulent misrepresentation and won enough money to buy a new car.

9. Two prison inmates once sued the state of Alabama, claiming that the cramped space in their cell was a cruel and unusual punishment. The state argued that students at Auburn University actually paid to live in even smaller living spaces in the Magnolia Dorm. The inmates lost the case.

10. In 2008, a Russian man named Dmitry Agarkov changed a credit card agreement to his benefit and the bank signed it. In 2010, when the bank wanted him to pay late fees, he sued it, as according to the changed deal, the bank owed him money 24 million Rubles. It all ended with an out-of-court settlement.

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11Footlong Lawsuit

Footlong Lawsuit

In 2013, Subway was sued for selling 11-inch Footlongs. In the settlement, they agreed to pay $525,000 in attorney fees and required their restaurants to now measure bread, so that Footlong and 6-inch sandwiches will indeed be at least 12 inches and 6 inches, respectively.

12. The creators of Spam sued Jim Henson Productions for using the name “Spa’am” for one of Muppet Treasure Island’s pig characters. The judge dismissed the suit after trial for failure to prove damages, noting, “one might think Hormel would welcome the association with a genuine source of pork.”

13. In 2016, ‘Getty Images’ sold some of the 100,000+ photos that had been donated, royalty-free, to the Library of Congress by photographer Carol Highsmith. Getty Images then demanded payment from the photographer, for using the photos she owned. She sued them (unsuccessfully) for over $1 billion.

14. In 1976, a woman sued Disney for $150,000 in damages, claiming one of the Three Little Pigs fondled her at “It’s a Small World” and that she gained 50 lbs (23 kg) as a result. The case was dropped when the costume was found to have “inoperable stub arms,” making said fondling impossible.

15. In 2002, a couple of PETA members, after attending an anti-hunting campaign, wrecked into a deer. They followed up by sueing the New Jersey Game Department claiming that their deer management program was to blame.

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16Jefri Bolkiah Lawsuit

Jefri Bolkiah Lawsuit

Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei has a harem of forty women, including a former Miss USA who sued the Sultan in 1997 for keeping her and other women as sex slaves. She lost the lawsuit after the Prince claimed diplomatic immunity.

17. A German landlord once evicted a tenant without notice for pouring Surstromming in the stairwells of the building. When sued over the eviction, he won the case by opening a can of surstromming in the court, convincing the court that the smell of the fish brine was too much to tolerate.

18. In 1985, John Fogarty was sued by Fantasy Records for copyright infringement because his song (the 1984 hit “The Old Man Down The Road”) sounded too much like CCR’s 1970’s hit “Run Through The Jungle”, a song that Fogarty wrote and produced. The case cost him $1.1 million in legal fees. He pushed it to the Supreme Court to fight the double standard of defendants not being awarded the fees and won, setting a precedent that defends artists from corporate sabotage.

19. Jackie Coogan was a child actor in the silent film era who earned millions of dollars, only to find out in his 20s that his parents spent it all on jewelry and cars. He sued and the litigation resulted in the passage of the Coogan Act, which protects child actors.

20. In the early 2000s, an entrepreneur named Ken Belanger sued Microsoft for illegal use of his “Pocket PC” trademark. Ken’s “Pocket PC” was a 1985-made plastic coin with 0 and 1 engraved on its front and back.

21Jehovah’s Witness Lawsuit

Jehovah’s Witness Lawsuit

A Jehovah’s Witness was temporarily incapacitated following a car accident. Her doctor transfused her with blood which saved her life, despite knowing she had signed a card requesting this not be done. Following her recovery, she successfully sued the doctor for battery.

22. A man being arrested on the show “COPS” for prostitution charges threatened suing the show if his Chihuahua’s face wasn’t blurred. The man claimed that he did not sign a release for the dog who is an actor with an agent.

23. “The Goldwater Rule” forbids psychiatrists from offering opinions on somebody they haven’t interviewed. It was created in response to Barry Goldwater suing Fact Magazine for $75,000 after they published “1189 Psychiatrists Think Goldwater is Psychologically Unfit to be President” in 1964.

24. A man who was napping under a tree and had his skull crushed by a 16-pound pinecone sued various governmental agencies in 2015 for $5 million due to the lack of warning signs.

25. In 2012, a man donated his kidney in order to save his younger sister but his efforts ended in vain when a nurse mistakenly disposed of the donated organ. Despite the success of the kidney transplant 3 months later, the family sued the hospital for their negligence.

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