Are they kidding? The top 5 ridiculous lawsuits of 2012

Each and every one of us has the right to use our legal system to address, and possibly redress the wrongs (or perceived wrongs) perpetrated against us. It can be fun to see what others complain about.

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 21, 2012 — Some lawsuits are truly bizarre. As an attorney, perhaps my perspective is a bit more forgiving. Each and every one of us has the right to use our legal system to address, and possibly redress the wrongs (or perceived wrongs) perpetrated against us. I rejoice that most of those meritless claims are weeded out quickly. Nonetheless, it can be fun to see what others complain about.

The 5th most trying lawsuit filed in 2012 was filed against the newly crowned musician of the year, Justin Bieber. 

Ms. Stacey Betts filed a $9.2 Million dollar suit against the Biebs. She attended his Portland concert in 2010 and claims he incited the crowd into a frenzy of screams, the loudness of which caused her permanent hearing loss. Specifically, she claims that when Bieber got into a gondola that was moved atop and across the crowd, he pointed to various sections of the crowd to energize them. She claims the gondola acted as a sound conductor the led to an intensified sound blasts, permanently damaging her ears. 

Justin Bieber in his heart shaped gondola soaring over the crowd.

Justin Bieber in his heart shaped gondola soaring over the crowd (Click to Enlarge)

Betts also sued the concert promoter and others.  She is representing herself.

My guess is she could not find an attorney to take her case.

Legally, this suit will fail. This is a “tort” case, where she must establish that the defendants owed her a duty, specifically to protect her hearing. She will fail in this element. Even if she somehow manages to squeak by on this matter, she will lose because of the affirmative defense of assumption of the risk. When was the last time you went to a rock concert that was quiet?

Speaking of not being able to find an attorney to represent you, Richard Katz, a New York attorney, is suing NYC’s Setai Club and Spa Wall Street. His is the #4 most trying lawsuit of 2012.

Richard joined the gym for $5,000.00 per year (by New York standards not very expensive) and claims that their action of stopping breakfast service was “misleading, illegal, despicable, reckless, malicious, deliberate and immoral.” He complains that the gym promised a full complimentary breakfast knowing they would not be able to make good on the offer, and that he relied on that promise to his detriment. 

Katz describes his daily routine as now being “mucked up.” He is suing for $750,000.00.

This arguable breach of contract suit is destined to go down the breakfast garbage disposal.  As an attorney you would think Katz would know that if something is “complimentary” as he alleges is the case, it is not part of the contract and thus cannot be used as a basis for the alleged breach. Further, if Katz somehow wins, at most he would get the diminished value of the annual fee, measured by taking the value of the breakfast out of the annual $5,000.00. 

I guess Katz feels the additional amount he sued for is the “pain and suffering” for mucking up his day. 

The #3 most trying lawsuit of 2012 goes to South Dakota Senior Accountant Tammy Armstrong, who sued her employer Accounting Firm because her job demanded too much of her. She quit as the workload was too demanding and caused her stress, resulting in visits to her cardiologist. She claims her employer asked her to do a lot of work, requiring her to work overtime. Her lawsuit alleges she was required to do some amazingly unbelievable things (remember she is an accountant): handle accounts payable, accounts receivable, assist with month-end and other financial reports, assisting with preparing tax returns, and assisting with banking accounts.

Whew. 

Imagine that every time your job becomes too stressful you tell your boss that your doctor says you shouldn’t have stress. If Armstrong prevails, all stressed employees in the country should be able to sue their employers. I hope my employees are not reading this column.

The 2nd most trying lawsuit of 2012 goes to Hulk Hogan, the wrestling mega-star. He sued his old friend Bubba The Love Sponge Clem (real name), a radio personality, claiming that Bubba damaged his reputation. Hogan had sex with Bubba’s ex-wife, and apparently unbeknownst to Hogan, the episode was being filmed. The film got out and went viral. Bubba announced that Hogan perpetrated the film’s distribution.

Wouldn’t Hogan have to have a reputation to be sullied in order to claim that his reputation was sullied? The former buddies settled and Bubba announced publicly that he knew that Hogan had nothing to do with distributing the film.

Thank goodness. 

Finally, the #1 most trying lawsuit of 2012 goes to the Mill Haven neighborhood Homeowner’s Association. This Augusta, Georgia group sued Becky Rogers-Peck because the playhouse she had built for her granddaughter and placed in her back yard was “too pink.” The HOA has no problem with the structure, or the color. They allege that the pink is “too pink” and that the playhouse needed approval in advance.

The playhouse cannot be seen from the street, and Grama says it does not even fall with the HOA’s definition of a backyard structure, so pre-approval was not needed.

The true salt in the wound here is that Grama was on the HOA board at the time this matter came up, and the other members kicked her off. She says when a new board is elected they may change their minds and drop the lawsuit against her. She cannot afford an attorney.

An “also mention” lawsuit that I did not place in the top 5 involved another attorney. His high school son plagiarized an exam in Honors English class. The school removed the cheating young man from the class. Dad, again, an attorney (whose entire occupation theoretically revolves around integrity), sued the school to get his son back in the class.

As you consider all of the aggravations that attach to your life, remember that because you have the right to do something does not mean you should.

Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980.  He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website. He is also available to speak to your group on numerous legal topics. 

Paul is the featured legal analyst on the Washington Times Radio, on the Andy Parks show, on Wednesdays at 5:15 P.M., and he is a columnist on the Communities @WashingtonTimes.com.

His book The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You is free to Maryland and Virginia residents and can be obtained by ordering it on his website; others can obtain it on Amazon.


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Paul Samakow

Attorney Paul Samakow brings his legal expertise to the headlines from life and real-life experience to The Washington Times Communties. A native Washingtonian, Samakow has been a Plaintiff’s trial lawyer since 1980, with offices in Maryland and Virginia. 

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