When most people are dissatisfied with a product or service, they contact the company or simply take their business elsewhere. A select few file a lawsuit. Sometimes lawsuits are merited, but frequently court cases appear to be fueled by plaintiffs’ desire to earn a quick buck.
From McDonald’s complaints to a class-action lawsuit about the size of Subway sandwiches, take a look at 10 frivolous court cases and the dollar signs attached to them.
Chicago woman Stacy Pincus filed a $5 million class-action lawsuit against Starbucks in April 2016, claiming the company puts too much ice in its cold drinks. The lawsuit accused Starbucks of advertising iced drinks as 24-ounce beverages, when the cup only contained 14 ounces of fluid.
Named the most frivolous lawsuit of 2016 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, the lawsuit was dismissed by a Chicago federal judge in Oct. 2016. Instead of filing a frivolous lawsuit, double your paycheck with strategies that actually work.
2. The Hershey Company
Robert Bratton of Missouri is currently battling Hershey in court, claiming the company intentionally sells partially full packages of Whoppers, Reese’s Pieces and other products. In May 2017, his $5 million class-action lawsuit was given the green light to move forward by U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey.
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In 2013, a group of Subway customers filed a class action lawsuit against the chain, claiming its footlong subs didn’t always measure up to 12 inches. Before the lawsuit was consolidated, some plaintiffs were seeking up to $5 million from the sandwich chain. U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman called the case “quite weak” and Subway was cleared of deceptive marketing practices, but agreed to make sure subs are the proper size in the future, and pay $520,000 in attorney fees and $500 to each of the 10 plaintiffs.
Just when both parties thought the lawsuit had been put to rest, it was appealed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Class Action Fairness. Filed in March 2016, the appeal claims the settlement offered no benefit to the majority of the class. The appeal is still pending.
4. Home Depot
One of the more recent court cases, a group of Chicago plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit against Home Depot in 2017, because the store’s four-by-four lumber actually measures out to 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches on each side. Home Depot and other lumber suppliers have explained that four-by-four is just the names of the boards, as the industry standard dimensions actually are 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches. Nevertheless, the plaintiffs seek more than $5 million in damages.
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California resident Webster Lucas sued the company for $1.5 million in 2014, because he only received one napkin with his meal. After a potentially racially charged argument with the manager, Lucas was offered free burgers, but he claimed the incident left him emotionally distressed and unable to work. Unlike the McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit of 1994, no one actually got hurt from napkingate.
6. British Airways
Dr. Edward Gamson and his partner booked a flight through British Airways to Granada, Spain in 2014, but a ticket mix-up sent the North Bethesda, Md., couple to the small Caribbean island country of Grenada. Grenada was spelled correctly on their tickets, but the couple didn’t notice they were headed in the wrong direction until 20 minutes after their St. Lucia-bound flight departed from London.
In total, they took seven different flights over three days to finally get to Lisbon, Portugal, where Gamson had a conference — the Granada, Spain trip was supposed to be an added excursion — which cost $2,776. He tried to sue British Airways for $34,000, which he said covered his first-class flights and lost wages, but his case was dismissed. Gamson should have stayed in Grenada — it has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
7. Custom Cleaners
Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson filed a $67 million lawsuit against Custom Cleaners — a Washington, D.C., dry cleaner — for allegedly losing a pair of his pants. The 2007 civil litigation made national headlines, because of its outrageous nature.
When the dry cleaner found the pants, Pearson claimed they weren’t his and demanded $1,000 for a new suit. His request was denied, which spawned the lawsuit, which he eventually dropped to a "more reasonable" $54 million. The judge ruled in favor of Custom Cleaners, and forced Pearson to pay the business’ court fees, which totaled roughly $1,000.
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Imprisoned pimp Sirgiorgio Sanford Clardy sued Nike for $100 million in 2014, claiming his Air Jordan sneakers should’ve come with warning that they could be used as a dangerous weapon. Clardy received a 100-year prison sentence for stomping on the face of a Portland, Ore., prostitution customer who tried to flee a motel without paying. Clardy served as his own litigation lawyer, and his case was promptly dismissed.
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“Fear Factor” viewer Austin Aitken sued NBC for $2.5 million in 2005 because a segment where contestants ate rats mixed in a blender caused him to vomit, become disoriented and run into a doorway. He felt the stunt went “too far,” but was unable to turn the television off fast enough to avoid the stunt.
Not surprisingly, his lawsuit was dismissed, and U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells warned him against filing an appeal.
10. Beck’s Beer
In 2013, several Beck’s beer aficionados filed a class-action lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch, seeking upwards of $5 million, because they claimed deceptive packaging caused them to believe the beverage was manufactured in Germany. Production was moved to St. Louis in 2012, but “made in the U.S.A.” was almost nonexistent on the label.
The court ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor and U.S. Magistrate Judge John J. O’Sullivan approved a settlement for customers who purchased Beck’s Pilsner, Beck’s Dark, Beck’s Light and Beck’s Oktoberfest from May 1, 2011 to June 23, 2015. Those with receipts were able to file a claim for up to $50 per household or up to $12 without a receipt.
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