Tim Gilmore

The U.S. has been the undisputed lawsuit capital of the world for some time. And while the courts play a central role in resolving disputes and maintaining a civil society, that function isn’t easy when they are packed with frivolous suits.

Ridiculous lawsuits clog up our legal system’s dwindling resources, taking time away from legitimate grievances to devote to the vindictive, the hypocritical, the irresponsible, and the outright absurd.

With that in mind, FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org has compiled some of the most egregious examples of frivolous and abusive litigation from around the country and asked you to tell us which ones were the most ridiculous. These suits range from the comical and absurd to the disturbing, but they all underscore a real problem – lawsuits hurt businesses, families, and everyday Americans through lost time, money and job growth.

So which lawsuits are the doozies this past year? First, here's the lawsuit that you thought was the most ridiculous:

Convict sues couple he kidnapped for not helping him evade police. A man who kidnapped a couple at knifepoint while he was running from the police is now suing the victims, claiming that they promised to hide him in exchange for an unspecified amount of money. The plaintiff, currently in jail, is seeking $235,000 for the alleged “breach of contract.”

And here’s the rest of the top ten as determined by you who voted at FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org:

• Man suing for age discrimination says judge in his case is too old. A 60-year-old musician who is suing for age discrimination wants the judge removed from the case – because he’s too old. Ironically, the plaintiff says his fight against age-based discrimination is too important to leave in the hands of the 88-year-old judge.

• Young adults sue mother for sending cards without gifts and playing favorites. The plaintiffs, now 20 and 23, claimed the mother “sometimes didn’t include gifts in cards sent to her children; played favorites with her children . . . did not send care packages until his sixth semester away at college . . . changed her surname, thus ‘causing attention’ at her daughter’s school events; and refused to buy her a homecoming dress.”

• Obese man sues burger joint over tight squeeze in booths. A nearly-300 pound man is suing White Castle restaurants, saying that their booths are too tight to accommodate someone of his size. In fact, he’s so distraught by the booths that he hasn’t been to White Castle in months (instead, he sends his wife to pick up his burgers so he can eat them at home).

• Woman sues over movie trailer; says not enough driving in ‘Drive’. A Michigan woman who claims she was misled by the trailers for the movie ‘Drive’ is suing the distributors of the film. She says she was disappointed by the lack of driving in the film and was expecting something more similar to the ‘Fast and Furious’ films.

• Mom files suit against exclusive preschool over child’s college prospects. A New Yorker is suing a private preschool, saying the school’s curriculum has seriously hurt her 4-year-old’s chances of getting into an Ivy League college.

• Man sues bar for not disarming him before he started drinking (and fighting). A Pennsylvania man illegally brought a gun into a bar, then got injured in a drunken shootout with another patron, and now has sued the bar for not searching him for a weapon on his way in.

• Passenger’s lawsuit says cruise ship was too fast. An Indiana woman is suing Carnival Cruise Line, claiming she got sick because the boat was going too fast and was swaying from side to side.

• Woman disagrees with store over 80¢ refund, sues for $5m. A New York woman decided to make a $5 million federal case out of a disagreement over 80¢. Her suit says she used a $5-off coupon when she purchased a bevy of items for over $100. When she returned one of the items, the store pro-rated the refund to account for the discount.

• Mother sues Chuck E. Cheese – says games encourage gambling in children. A California woman has filed a lawsuit against Chuck E. Cheese on the grounds that their games are actually an illegal form of gambling and could get kids hooked. She is seeking at least $5 million; the restaurant says the games are legal and has asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to vote. And while we can't predict everything 2012 has in store, it's a good bet there'll be more ridiculous lawsuits. So remember to visit FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org monthly to vote for your favorite ridiculous lawsuits.


Tim Gilmore

Tim Gilmore is an associate manager at the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.