10 lawsuits we can’t believe were ever filed


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America has a longstanding pride in its well-established judicial system, with courtrooms across the nation open for anyone caught in a David vs. Goliath scenario. But, occasionally lawsuits arise that are less “To Kill a Mockingbird” and more “The People’s Court.” 

Case in point: Cynthia Kelly of Tampa Bay, Florida, discovered over Halloween that her Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins did not have carved-out eyes and mouths like the packaging suggested. So what did she do? She filed a lawsuit, of course, against the candy maker Hershey seeking at least $5 million in damages for “misleading” advertising. The suit, filed in federal court, seeks class-action status for consumers who may feel misled by the packaging.

Is the case frivolous? We’ll let the judge be the, um, judge of that, but given the state of the world, suing over whether your candy has eyes and a mouth just feels a little … Karen-y.

Kelly’s case joins a long list of lawsuits that, frankly, make us wonder how they were filed in the first place. Here are 10 that really stand out…

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1. Woman sued Jelly Belly because the product contains sugar

The health-conscious customer who reads the ingredients list might be surprised to find out that there are over 60 terms for the word sugar. Jelly Belly’s Sport Beans, a product marketed as an exercise supplement containing carbohydrates, electrolytes and vitamins, lists “evaporated cane juice” on the label instead of the word “sugar.” This led  Jessica Gomez of San Bernadino County, California, to file a lawsuit in 2017 against the jelly bean maker for violating the state’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Business Practices Law, and False Advertising Law. The company called the lawsuit “nonsense,” and the case was eventually dismissed. 

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2. When Subway’s Footlong isn’t a foot long

In 2013, an Australian teenager measured his Subway footlong sandwich only to discover that it was only 11 inches. When he posted the “an inch too short sandwich,” it led to a three-year legal battle. 

In 2016, a Wisconsin federal judge approved a settlement asking Subway to adopt quality control measures to ensure that its six- and 12-inch sandwiches were actually that length, awarding $520,000 to the customers’ lawyers, plus $5,000 of “incentive” awards to 10 plaintiffs, for settling. After legal writer Theodore Frank questioned the logic and fairness of this, the judge agreed and dismissed the entire case.

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3. Kidnapper sues hostages for escaping

The audacity of escaping a life-threatening situation after making a deal with the kidnapper! 

In 2012, Jesse Dimmick, a fugitive facing a murder charge, filed a countersuit against the Kansas couple he kidnapped, who sued him for over $75,000 in damages. According to Dimmick, they had a legally binding agreement for them to hide him from the police. At some point, he fell asleep and they escaped. Unsurprisingly, the case was dismissed. Dimmick was sentenced to 11 years for two counts of kidnapping and was then sent to Colorado for trial, convicted, and sentenced to 37 years. 

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4. Man sued his date for texting

Many of us have been trough the agony of surviving a bad date. However, in 2017, a man from Austin, Texas, was so disappointed by his date, that he decided to take it to court. 

Brandon Vezmar filed a lawsuit against his date Crystal Cruz who was texting while they were watching “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.” In the lawsuit, Vezmar modestly asked to be compensated  $17.31, the cost of the movie ticket. Cruz agreed to pay him the sum if he left her alone. He withdrew the lawsuit, soon after. 

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5. So Red Bull doesn’t actually ‘give you wings?’

In 2014, Red Bull settled a $13 million U.S. class action suit after being accused of false advertising with its slogan “Red Bull gives you wings.” The lawsuit claimed Red Bull’s claims of enhancing concentration and reaction speed were unscientific, meaning it did not make customers “fly.” The company has since revised its marketing to avoid litigation costs.

Image Credit: Costco.

6. Lawsuit gets lippy

It’s very frustrating when you can’t get that last bit of the lip balm, right? In fact, it’s so frustrating that in 2016, a California woman filed a class action against Fresh Inc., stating that the company misled consumers about the quantity of its $24 Sugar Lip Treatment. The woman claimed that the product’s twist-up mechanism dispensed only 75% of the balm, violating California’s consumer protection laws. However, the court found no legal breach, as the packaging clearly indicated the balm’s quantity and that reasonable customers know how lip balms work.

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7. Suit claims ‘scary’ poster is negligent

In 2013, Anjanaffy Njewadda experienced a startling fall at the Grand Central subway station in New York. The cause of her misfortune was her unexpected encounter with a “scary” advertisement for Showtime’s series ‘Dexter,’ featuring actor Michael C. Hall. The ad, which was designed to be attention-grabbing and provocative, depicted a disturbing image related to the show’s theme. This encounter led Njewadda to file a lawsuit in 2015 against Showtime. She claimed that the placement of the ad, which she found deeply disturbing and fear-inducing, was a negligent act. According to her, it led to her injuring her foot and ankle. However, the judge disagreed with her claim and dismissed the case, deeming that the advertisement, while possibly unsettling, did not constitute negligence on the part of Showtime.

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8. Michael Jordan lookalike sued the NBA legend for emotional damage

While you might think it’s flattering to be mistaken for a legendary athlete, some find it a nuisance. In 2006,  Allen Heckard of Portland, Oregon, sued the hoops legend Michael Jordan for $416 million for the emotional suffering and permanent injury because of the uncanny resemblance. 

Standing 6 inches shorter than the legendary Chicago Bulls guard, Heckard argued that his life was disrupted due to the constant comparison. Attending religious services, riding public transport, playing sports, or dining out turned into an ordeal as he was frequently mistaken for Jordan Heckars, who also sued the sportswear giant Nike for making Jordan a celebrity and eventually dropped the suit.

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9. The ‘$54 million pants’

In 2007, Roy L. Pearson Jr. was just your average judge in Washington, D.C., until he had a very bad experience in a local dry cleaning business owned by Soo and Jin Chung. So bad in fact, he filed a $67 million lawsuit (then reduced it to $54 million) against the mom-and-pop shop. Pearson claimed the Chungs failed to deliver on their “same-day service” and “satisfaction guaranteed” promise, when they misplaced his trousers. While the judge ruled in favor of the Chungs, the financial burden of the lawsuit forced them out of business. As for Pearson, four months into the lawsuit, he lost his bid for a 10-year reappointment as an administrative law judge. The review committee cited concerns over his conduct in the lawsuit and questioned his “appropriate judgment and judicial temperament.”

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10. Whopper of a lawsuit

We all know that food ads are designed to make the product look bigger and more inviting than it actually is in reality.  Most of us are fine with this marketing quirk, but apparently not everyone.
Burger King is currently in the hot seat after a class action lawsuit was filed in Florida, alleging that the company misled consumers about the amount of meat in the iconic Whopper sandwich.
In August, a Florida judge allowed the class action lawsuit to move forward. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that Burger King’s ads overstate the amount of meat in its Whopper burger, alleging that the sandwich contains 35% less meat than the company’s ads suggest. 

In October, Burger King requested a sanction of the lawyers behind the class action, citing “baseless and unprecedented complaint about using attractive photographs of menu items in their advertising.” The case is still pending.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

Image Credit: Burger King.

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