Lawyers are often portrayed in the movies as serious characters who deal with very austere cases. Usually, the subject matter of the cases is heavy, revolving around some sort of horrific crime or disturbing offense. While such is seen in real life as well, the reality is that lawyers also go through their fair share of ridiculous and laughable cases. Lawyers from around the world took to the internet to share the stupidest case they have ever been asked to take on, and whether they actually did or not. From crazy cat ladies to chaotic conspiracy theorists, the following stories might make you thankful you're not a lawyer yourself.
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#1 Refusing The Cat Lady
I am a personal injury lawyer in the UK. I took a call from a potential client that had fallen down the stairs in her own home. She had tripped over her own cat. She told me that she wanted to sue her local authority as her home was owned by the council and she was not allowed to keep pets as part of her lease. She claimed that when the house was inspected she was not told to get rid of the cat. It was, therefore, the council's fault that she fell down the stairs. We didn't take the case on.
#2 The Chick Is Nuts
Not really stupid but unbelievable. My friend's girlfriend filed for divorce a few weeks ago. That's right. They aren't married and common law doesn't apply in WA state. They lived together for five years. She has a job. She isn't on the mortgage. And she left him a few months ago. There are no kids involved. They were never engaged.
In the "divorce," she wanted him to leave his house and she wanted to move back in. She wanted him to pay her 2800 a month for some reason. I referred him to my divorce attorney and now that attorney is probably going to represent him. The chick is nuts. She has already tried to get a restraining order against him that was dismissed.
#3 The Yoruba Client
I dealt with a guy once who wanted me to take on his road traffic accident PI claim. He had written a poem, in Yoruba, about the accident. He refused to tell me anything about his case until he's read the whole thing, in Yoruba. Among other problems, I can't speak any Yoruba. As in, not one word. As in, that day was the first time I had ever heard of the Yoruba language. I'm not even from a part of the world where I might readily be mistaken for someone who speaks Yoruba. It's a West African language, and I am really, really obviously not from a West African background.
I tried to explain this to the guy who became very agitated and insisted that he must read out his poem in Yoruba. I gave up and told him to get on with it so we could talk about his claim. He did. It took him nearly 20 minutes to finish. Anyway, after he was done, he finished and sat back with a big smile, telling me that he was certain I'd take his case on now.
I began to ask him some questions about his case, but he refused to answer. He says that his poem (in Yoruba) was everything I needed to know about his case. Basically, I told him to screw off and stop wasting my time. He did, but not before standing around outside my office for an hour or so, reading out his poem, to no-one in particular, over and over again.
#4 Fruit Salad Drama
The client wanted to sue because there were no strawberries in her fruit salad which she bought from a supermarket. Thankfully, a secretary was able to screen the call. She asked if the package said it had strawberries, and the response was, "No, but I thought it would have." I don't know how these people manage to make it through life.
#5 Underwear Problems
Without going into too many details— I had a guy who wanted to bring a class action against the company that made his underwear because he was convinced it was the reason he couldn't get a girlfriend. He assured us that as soon as the jury saw what the underwear was doing to him, they'd side with him. No, we didn't take it.
#6 "I'm Psychic"
A lady once called asking us to sue her neighbors. They were using voodoo on her. Fortunately, she had psychic powers and thus knew what they were doing. I respectfully declined. Sometimes, I wonder if her neighbors just had a universal remote that somehow got linked to her TV. It's just so hard to take people like this seriously.
#7 Handling The Crazy
My father is a patent attorney. When I was around 14 years old, he told me about a guy who wanted to patent the iPhone 3 because "aliens" had given him the design for it. My father told him that if the aliens originally designed them, they were the ones that had to patent it, not him. I think my dad handled the crazy pretty well in that situation.
#8 My Very Own Volcano
A guy found a rock in the middle of Melbourne CBD that he believed came from an underground volcano. According to him, that therefore meant that he discovered the volcano and officially owned the volcano, Indeed, the Victorian government should pay him to live on top of his underground volcano. No, I did not take on the case.
#9 Breaking The Warranty
I run a consumer advocacy firm. I had a client come in and tell me that he bought a product, and the company refused to honor the warranty after the product broke. I asked for details, and he just started screaming in my face asking if I was going to take his money or not. I decided then that I wasn't taking him on as a client, but I wanted to know what was going on.
I convinced him to tell me what happened. Turns out, he bought a computer back in the 1990s. It had just recently died. But not because it was old and just stopped working. It was slow, so he picked it up, and threw it out a two-story window. And then he wanted to sue the manufacturer for breaking the warranty.
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#10 The Toilet Thief
I've been a lawyer for 12 years. The client was charged with "stealing a mobile toilet." After we won, he told me he still owns it. The guy has the thing in his backyard because he was lazy as heck (his office was nearby). I forced him to deliver it back at night... Jesus... I'm still offended that he lied to me the whole time. I was totally duped.
#11 Occupational Hazard: House Cat
My dad is an in house lawyer for a major American insurance company. He once spent an entire year trying to help deny insurance benefits for a painter who had stepped off his ladder onto a cat, fallen down the stairs and become paralyzed. The insurance company was arguing that a cat was a commonly expected occupational hazard for a painter and that he was negligent in not checking for cats before stepping down. A whole year of his life. Over whether a cat is a known occupational hazard of house painting.
#12 Suing McDonalds
A woman wanted me to sue McDonald's because their employees beat up her son... who was trying to rob the place.
"They beat up my son!"
"Oh, my, I'm so sorry to hear about that ma'am, do you know why?"
"No idea! It's like you can't even rob people without them going ballistic!"
#13 Can't Fix Stupid
I did insurance defense for a long time, including insurance fraud investigations for insurance companies. You wouldn't believe how many people take a video inventory of their house only to have it "mysteriously" burn down the next day. You really can't fix stupid.
#14 Sandwich Shoplifter
I'm a prosecutor, so I don't get hired to represent anyone (I work for the government), but I do have discretion over how the prosecution progresses (i.e. deciding to proceed, deciding what to offer in the event of a plea bargain, deciding to withdraw the charges, etc.) I had a case a few months ago where a man was charged with shoplifting.
Turned out, he was 70 years old, had absolutely no criminal record, and had shoplifted a SANDWICH which he ate politely in the store. He honestly thought he had paid for it. I was so angry that he was ever charged in the first place. When I saw him in court, he was absolutely terrified. I withdrew the charges and wished him well. I have no idea how it progressed that far.
#15 The Baskin Robbins Conspiracy
Let me preface this: I had heard about the guy I'm going to mention below before I had actually met him. I thought this was an urban legend until he came into my office one day. A guy in his early 60s comes into the lobby area of my office and starts a commotion that freaks out the receptionist. I was the closest attorney to the lobby, so I go out and talk to the guy.
He was clearly mentally disturbed and presented the following story: someone had implanted a device in his brain that was controlling his behavior. He believed it was being controlled by Baskin Robbins and a former mayor of Detroit. He believed they were forcing him to do random things like going to bars to drink, taking the wrong turn when driving, forcing him to retire from his job, and a lot of very other intricate things.
After asking him if he had seen any doctors regarding the "implant" he got really upset and said that he thought the doctors were in on it as well. After telling him I couldn't help him and suggesting that he find some new doctors, he asked me if I knew any lawyers who specialized in his kind of case. I often wonder if the lawyer I referred him to was able to help him.
#16 Finding Stu
I had a client come in saying that he "needed to sue Stu for robbing all his checks." When I asked him if Stu had a last name, he said no. When I asked him if he knew any Stu, he said no. When I asked him what proof he had that Stu was robbing him, he showed me all of his pay stubs. There were clear, monthly deductions by "SCU." As soon as I saw it, I knew. I asked, "Do you have children?" He said yes.
I then told him: "Your Stu is the SCU—the Support Collection Unit. They take money out of your check to pay for your child." He left the office insisting that we needed to find Stu.
#17 For The Love Of Pancakes
One prospective client wanted me to sue Burger King for no longer serving pancakes. And now they're back at 3 for 89¢. You must've put the fear of God into 'em! THE SYSTEM WORKS!
#18 A Petty Case
I have a friend who's a lawyer. One time, he worked a custody battle for a man following his divorce. The primary argument was that his ex-wife was a massive witch and would negatively impact the development of the children. The evidence consisted of statements from co-workers, Facebook arguments, and a list of HOA complaints she filed for frivolous things. He said it was a legitimate case, but everything about it was so petty and stupid. The guy won.
#19 Pulling The Race Card
I was a civil rights investigator. We had one guy complain that he was fired from his factory job because of his race (he was black). The owner of the factory said it was because the guy was drinking on his lunch break. Turns out, he was drinking on his lunch break, but so were a few of his white co-workers and they were not fired. The owner agreed to pay the guy six months of back pay and give him a neutral reference.
#20 The Yellow FUBU Shirt
When I was in law school I did the criminal defense clinic where we "help" a public defender. I say help because they just give you small cases to do by yourself. I had a guy accused of shoplifting a yellow FUBU shirt. Guess what he wore to the trial? A yellow FUBU shirt. I asked the prosecutor to re-offer the plea deal. She did, and I convinced the guy to take community service and probation (if I remember correctly). Our public defender system is tragically overworked and underfunded.
#21 Library Drama
I've been a lawyer for nine years. The best case so far was this elderly fellow was kicked out of a library for making an obscene gesture to every librarian he saw. He tried to sue the library, and I was his legal consultant. I didn't take the case, but I advised him that he would get a better outcome by avoiding libraries altogether and by not trying to sue the only people who will crush him in court bar none.
#22 Power Of Attorney
Not a lawyer, but I refused a second date with a woman after she told me: "You can't break up with me without my permission. I have power of attorney." I confused her to no end when I responded, "For who?" No, I've never heard from her again.
#23 Chicken Wing Anatomy
My lawyer friend and neighbor told me yesterday of a guy whose client is being sued over chicken wings. The claim is that the 10 wings in his order actually constitute only 5 wings because there are two edible parts to a chicken wing. In chicken anatomy class, this would be true. In the restaurant chicken wing business, not so much.
#24 Those Pesky Disney Characters
My mother said that at a law firm she used to work for many years ago, they had received a call from a gentleman that wanted to file a lawsuit against Walt Disney. When asked why he was filing suit, he claimed that the Disney characters were coming out of the TV and stealing food from his refrigerator. They told him they'd take the case for an advance fee of $100K and never heard back from him.
#25 It Goes Both Ways
I used to be a forensic social worker at a public defense organization (i.e. the people who provide lawyers for poor people when they get charged with crimes). You would not believe how many people believed that filing a police brutality lawsuit would result in their criminal charges going away. I mean, yes, police brutality is real. But you totally still committed a crime.
#26 The Wrong Argument
I had a teacher who had to take on a case where she was defending an entertainment district. After someone was ended after getting robbed near there, she had to make the argument that it was partially her fault for parking in that poorly lit of an area. My teacher felt awful about the argument she made, and the jury did not buy it because they were understandably very sympathetic to the family suing the entertainment district.
#27 Off By A Foot
A guy came in and had a company build a shed on some land. On the phone, he told me it was built incorrectly. He insisted on meeting. When he got to my office, I asked him what was wrong with the building. Was it structurally deficient? Dangerous? None of the above. Turned out, it was not perfectly square with the road in front of it. It was off by one foot. You could not tell by the naked eye, but he would always know and it bugged him. I told him that without any real damages, he had no case. He stormed out angrily.
#28 Duck Tales
When I was a summer associate, I worked on a case where a lady was suing her apartment complex because she walked out of her unit, slipped on duck poop, and injured herself. We represented the apartment complex. The associate I was working for told me to slip as many bird-based puns into the motions and pleadings as possible. I happily obliged.
#29 The Crazy Walmart Lady
A woman wanted to sue Walmart because they called the police, who then arrested her for disorderly conduct because she got into a physical altercation with an employee. While doing her intake, I made a bullet-pointed list titled: "Why We Shouldn't Take This Case." One of the points was that she had a history of suing her former attorneys.
My crazy boss forced me to take the case—and her retainer—anyway. I wrote a memo explaining why she had no viable case, hoping she'd at least get some closure out of it. She didn't. And to no one's surprise, she sued me. I got it dismissed in about five minutes, but I still had to show up in small claims court over some pointless nonsense I didn't want to do in the first place.
#30 The Obama Sabotage
I was working intake for my firm. One day, a lady called up and told me that a few months ago, she had gone in for back surgery and things went terribly wrong... At that point, I was thinking, "Okay, it's some kind of med mal." Then she told me, while she was under, President Obama snuck in the room and slipped a tracking device into her. I went to the partner and told him I had a great case, but the bad news is that the defendant has civil immunity for at least the next three years. I was then told to go back to work. We did not take the case.
#31 Naked Guy In Cowboy Boots
My dad is a public defender and he had to defend this guy that stole a cop car from the jail parking lot. He claimed that it was a gift from God and was intended for him. Of course, a police chase ensued and it went into the nearby highway (I-5, for those who know it). When he was finally pulled over about five minutes later, the guy got out of the car completely naked except for a pair of leather cowboy boots.
#32 The Messy Gum Situation
My mother-in-law wanted me to sue a movie theater because it was too dark and she sat on a piece of gum. She said it ruined her pants. Her $20 Walmart pants. Thank God, due to continuing education difficulties while living out of state at the time, I had elected to make my license in that particular state inactive. I can't even imagine filling that suit in Hilton Head (where she lives).
#33 The Blunt Truth
I heard a caller on a call-in lawyer radio show ask if he could sue a retail store that had a big sign saying: "Open 24 hours" because he tried to go in at 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning and the doors were locked. Apparently, they did close from midnight to 7 a.m. on Sundays, according to a tiny "hours of service" sign near the door. The host pretty much told him that there are hundreds of people with legitimate claims waiting for their day in court and that no one would take his stupid case.
#34 Well, That Was Dumb
Not a lawyer, but I know one who was asked to take on a defense case. The defendant wanted his arrest thrown out because he was only reporting a crime. Problem was, the crime was that his illicit substances were stolen from his car. He said he knew who stole it. The police then arrested them both.
#35 Totally Counterproductive
I recently had a corporate client give my firm an $800 retainer to have us go to a small claims trial they couldn't possibly win. It was over a $25 ticket from a city in which the company owned property... They paid us $150 for us to pay a $25 ticket for them...
#36 HOA Things
I'm a young associate at a large firm and a "friend of the firm" asked us to help in his fight against his HOA. He said his neighbors have a pit bull, which is against the covenants each neighbor entered into. The neighbors then got a vet report from a foreign country saying that their dog was not a pit bull, and then they registered the dog as a service animal. I honestly can't believe I'm spending time on this silly case. At least it has taught me to never live in an HOA.
#37 Rough Play
My friend called me because his wife got charged with some weird misdemeanor. She was at the dog park—her dog was playing with another dog and accidentally crushed it. She has a lab and it was playing with a much small dog. They were just playing and I guess the big one rolled over the little one and it burst a lung.
#38 Not My Specialty
The government was hiding in his bushes, waiting for him to leave the house. When he was forced to leave, they went into his house and replaced his papers with identical copies. They didn't do anything else to the papers, just replaced them. I turned down the case and referred him to another lawyer I knew, telling him the other lawyer specialized in exactly this kind of thing.
#39 Who Steals A Porch?
A client came to the office and wanted to sue their neighbor for stealing her porch. The client lived in a trailer park and came home to her porch missing. She saw it attached to her neighbor's trailer. They got a free consultation but couldn't pay the retainer fee.
#40 Straight Out Of A Cartoon
My dad had a client that robbed a Mini Mart. They found him by following a trail of candy wrappers that led to him peddling slowly on a bike away from the store. Everything was found on him. He told my dad that some random guy gave him the snacks, then ran away.
#41 Never Push It Too Far
My client choked on a screw in his tuna sandwich. He sued Luna Tuna. He rejected their $10 million settlement in favor of going to trial, which seemed smart... until his best friend had a meltdown on the stand and confessed to dropping the screw in the tuna. His whole case fell apart and he missed out on getting $10 million.
#42 Nude Offense
A young man wanted to sue an art gallery across the street from my office because it contained nude images, which he felt was harming him. I did not take the case. I did, however, end up being appointed to represent him in a later criminal matter. I had him evaluated, and he was found incompetent and unrestorable. All charges dismissed.
#43 A Fitting Recommendation
Not a lawyer, but I work with them. One of them said a woman called who wanted to sue her husband's mistress for talking about her on social media. He recommended a divorce lawyer.
#44 A Bad Dealer
A guy wanted me to sue Hard Rock Casino because the poker dealer dealt a hand incorrectly. He emailed me at 4 a.m. from the poker table.
#45 A Special Kind Of Stupid
A lady in prison in my state tried to sue the state Department of Corrections for "holding her against her will". Her lawyer wouldn't touch it. It takes a special kind of stupid to try that.