There are a lot of ways to get rich. You can work hard for yourself or someone else, saving and investing wisely. You can win the lottery, or you can inherit wealth. Or, if you’re a red-blooded American, you can blame your problems on somebody else and sue them for gobs of cash.
A lot of people like their odds on that last option.
Faces of Lawsuit Abuse, a campaign run by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has published a list of the most ridiculous lawsuits of last year. The results are based on polls the website conducted monthly in 2013.
While the Chamber of Commerce’s motivations are obvious, the effort is nonetheless interesting, amusing, and perhaps a little insightful.
Here’s what the dumbest lawsuits were about, and what the plaintiffs demanded. Most of these cases will take years to work through the legal system, but if there are updates we included them…
1. Inmates blame their crimes on beer companies
Claim: If only you hadn’t made me drink your brand of beer, I would’ve lived an honest life.
Facts: Five inmates of an Idaho prison claim a number of beermakers — including Anheuser-Busch, Coors, and Miller Brewing — didn’t disclose that alcohol is addictive, according to The Idaho Statesman.
The men are variously serving time for shooting people (one to death), grand theft, and drugs. They don’t have lawyers, so they drafted the lawsuit themselves.
Judgment sought: $1 billion
2. Teacher sues school district over fear of children
Claim: Making me teach younger kids is discrimination.
Facts: Spanish and French teacher Maria Waltherr-Willard says the Mariemont school district committed a muy loco faux pas when it reassigned her from a high school classroom to middle school, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. She eventually resigned.
Waltherr-Willard’s lawsuit says both her age and disability were discriminated against. She was in her late 50s at the time of the switch in 2010, and claims to have pedophobia — extreme fear of young children.
Her doctors provided evidence that she experiences “stress, anxiety, chest pains, vomiting, nightmares, and higher than healthy blood pressure when she’s around young children.”
She was making about $80,000 a year when she resigned, The Associated Press says. A judge dismissed three of the claims listed in the lawsuit, but the others stand and a trial could take place in February 2014.
Judgment sought: At least $100,000
3. Father sues school for kicking absentee son off the track team
Claim: My son’s so good it doesn’t matter if he repeatedly missed practice.
Facts: New Jersey resident Ervin Mears Jr. says it’s unfair his son wasn’t allowed to compete in high school track races, that he was bullied, and that his right to free speech was impeded, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The school claims he was kicked off the team for unexcused absences. Mears says the absences were because of a leg injury and death in the family, and that there was more going on than the school lets on.
Worried about his son missing out on college scholarships, he’s sued pretty much everybody: the coach, athletic director, principal, superintendent, and school board. District court records show the school board sought to dismiss the lawsuit, and that in November a judge denied Mears’ effort to skip trial and win by default.
Judgment sought: $40 million — and 2012 and 2013 varsity letters and championship jackets
4. Homeless man says parents are indifferent to his problems
Claim: If you really loved me, you’d buy me a Domino’s franchise or two.
Facts: Rapper Brooklyn Streets (also known as Bernard Bey) was 32 and homeless when he sued his parents for neglect, according to the New York Daily News.
In his lawsuit, Bey said his parents only gave him money grudgingly, wouldn’t even let him shower in their home, and that he felt abandoned. To make amends, they should mortgage their home and give him all the money so he can buy two pizza franchises. His mom offered another option: Get a job.
Judgment sought: $200,000
5. Man blames Apple for his porn addiction
Claim: It’s Apple’s fault I want women younger than my wife.
Facts: Former lawyer Chris Sevier says Apple devices should come with an automatic porn filter, according to The Huffington Post. The Tennessee man says he got addicted to porn because they don’t.
Sevier claims he accidentally typed in the web address of an adult networking site modeled after Facebook, which “appealed to his biological sensibilities as a male and led to an unwanted addiction with adverse consequences.” After that, he was hooked — and Apple could have prevented it.
According to Sevier, Apple is also complicit in sex trafficking, child prostitution, and the death of “mom and pop” porn shops. There has been a lot of legal back-and-forth on this case. Currently, Apple has asked for more time to prepare and has until Jan. 15.
Judgment sought: $75,010, plus a donation to an anti-trafficking organization, plus the development of anti-porn Macs.