A pro se federal lawsuit by a group of prisoners blaming eight brewers for their life of crime was the most ridiculous lawsuit of 2013, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform.
The list was based on votes cast throughout the year via a dedicated web site, FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org. The cases were filed in state and federal courts, some pro se and others by lawyers.
Another top vote-getter was a federal discrimination case by an Ohio teacher who claimed to have a phobia against children; she targeted the school district for transferring her from high school to a junior high.
And a New Jersey father’s federal case demanding $40 million because his son was kicked off a high school track team for missing too many practices rounded out the top three.
“Whether cringe-worthy or laugh-out-loud ridiculous, ask yourself: ‘Is this really what we want our legal system to look like?’” institute president Lisa Rickard said in a press release.
The list is “kind of a fun way of looking at a serious problem,” institute spokesman Bryan Quigley said. “We’re saying we’re hoping lawsuits are a last resort. In too many cases, litigation seems to be the first step in resolving a dispute or disagreement.”
A plaintiff’s lawyer begged to differ. “If they read the judge’s decision after the conclusion of the lawsuit they may have had a different view of it,” said Richard Orloski of the Orloski Law Firm in Allentown, Pa.
Thode represented Megan Thode, whose case was one of those highlighted. She’d been attending a Lehigh University graduate school program tuition-free because her father was a professor, and sued over a C+ grade. Thode claimed the grade prevented her from becoming a licensed professional counselor and that instructors conspired to eject her from her program.
Orloski released part of a transcript. Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano opined that Thode failed to meet her burden of proof, but that she was credible even though her “perception of things may have been off a little.” The judge added that he would not be happy if this happened to one of his children.
Chris Sevier, a Nashville man who attended Vanderbilt University Law School and is former judge advocate, insisted that he has a solid foundation for his complaint in Tennessee federal court against Apple Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. for selling devices without filters to block pornography.
“There’s really no reason for Apple and HP not to give me the relief I want,” Sevier said.
And about those top vote-getters: Dismissal motions are pending in the prisoners’ case and in the New Jersey father’s case. The teacher’s case has been partially dismissed and a summary judgment motion is pending.
Sheri Qualters can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.