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Sunday, September 8, 2013

5 outrageous lawsuits that actually paid off

Outrageious lawsuits are facilitated by legal reasoning and logical dynamics
A man sued NYC for a failed suicide attempt
By Annalise Proctor

Who doesn't love a story that reminds them of how ridiculous people can truly be. Maybe it lets us know that we aren't doing so bad after all.

When the people we consider absurdly out of touch actually benefit from their insanity, it's tempting to spill coffee on ourselves or trip over our own bag at the airport, just to make an outrageous claim seemingly worth a million bucks.

Why not look crazy if it pays well, right? However, we are generally decent people, and filing a lawsuit over, say, a bad fortune cookie is just poor form. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't be fascinated by those who do.

Here are five people who took a simple step/jump/trip to a whole new level, and somehow convinced a jury to come along for the ride:

1. In 1977 Milo Stevens Jr. wasn't feeling fantastic, and subsequently jumped in front of an oncoming train in an attempt to end it all. Yet, much to his dismay, Milo was only successful in getting hit by the train and failed at his ultimate goal. Maybe he was embarrassed (he gave it another go to no avail in 1982), or maybe the extreme pain and costly hospital bills made him bitter, but the whole event inspired Milo to file a suit against the New York City Transit Authority for not slowing the train in time to prevent his extensive injuries. You know, the ones he self inflicted by jumping in front of a moving train. He was awarded $650,000 for the trauma he actually intended on experiencing.

2. Kathleen Robertson was shopping at a furniture store in January of 2000, and lost her balance, tripping over an out of control child that had run amuck throughout the place. Kathleen suffered a broken ankle from the incident, and received compensation in the form of $780,000. I hope she thanked her son later for causing the whole ordeal (yes, he was the out of control child in the store), or at least gave him a very expensive nanny.

3. Later in November of 2000, a man was driving his brand new Winnebago, when he decided a cup of coffee was in order. Instead of heading to the nearest Starbucks, or at least pulling to the side of the highway, Mr. Grazinski utilized the convenient cruise control feature at 70mph, and ducked into the back to pour some for himself. The inevitable veering and crashing happened, and instead of being admonished for reckless driving, he sued and was awarded $1,750,00 and a new Winnebago to destroy somewhere else. After the surreal experience, Winnebago officially changed its handbook to include not leaving the vehicle unattended on cruise control to drive itself. A true idiot clause.

4. Wanita "Rena" Young, a middle aged resident of Durango, Co., was at home one night in 2005 minding her own business, when two neighbor kids came up on her porch and scared the living daylights out of her. Or so she claimed. The two neighbors who came over to visit had actually decided that rather than attending a school dance, they would make cookies for Mrs. Young as a gesture of kindness. Hooligans. She filed suit against them and won $900, but lost the respect of the entire nation.

5. 2012 was a big year for Chinese national, Jian Feng. He had a baby, divorced his wife and won $120,00 to boot. How did this happen? Jian was shocked and dismayed that his baby could be ugly when he had such a beautiful wife. He asked her what happened, and she confessed to extensive plastic surgery prior to their meeting. To him this was unacceptable, so he sued his wife for marrying him under false pretense, and won. Sometimes babies are just ugly Jian. I hope you're putting some of that money towards the kids self-esteem therapy in a few years. 

About the author: Annalise Proctor is an avid blogger and urban Chicago adventurer. Being raised by lawyers, she takes a lighthearted approach to the legal profession and writes often for the APM blog.

* Image license: TACLUDA; RGBStock attribution and royalty free