Four Frivolous Lawsuits of 2015 

 January 25, 2016

By  LMW Attorneys

What better way to start off the New Year than by looking at some of the most frivolous lawsuits from the year past?

PETA Sues on Behalf of Monkey for Selfie Ownership

PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, took issue with a six-year-old female macaque named Naruto who took selfies with a nature photographer’s camera on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Peta believes the monkey should be declared copyright ownership of the photos rather than David Slater, the camera’s owner. PETA is now seeking a court order that would allow the animal rights group to administer all proceeds to benefit the monkey and other macaques living in the reserve.

The copyright issue PETA has raised may be a cutting-edge legal question, however the outcome will most likely not rule in PETA’s favor as US Copyright laws already state that photos must be the product of human authorship in order for them to be copyrightable. A federal judge in San Francisco recently ruled to this effect, stating that while the protection of law could extend to animals, there was no indication of this within the scope of the Copyright Act. When it comes to this macaque monkey, the grinning Naruto cannot claim copyright ownership of the widely distributed selfies.


New York Aunt Sues Her 8-year-old Nephew for Careless Hug

A jury in Connecticut ruled against Jennifer Connell, a 54-year-old woman who sued her 12-year-old nephew for an incident that occurred in 2011. The then 8-year-old was excited to see his aunt at his birthday party and hugged her a little too hard, knocking her to the floor and resulting in her broken wrist.

Connell sought $127,000 in damages from her nephew, and also sued him for legal bills, negligence and carelessness because of, according to her, a shoddy healthcare system. The Connecticut jury took less than 25 minutes to rule against Connell.


Pennsylvania Nursing Student Sues School for Epic Fail Due to Anxiety

After failing a required course to complete her nursing degree, former nursing student Jennifer Burbella sued Misericordia University for not accommodating her disabilities–anxiety, depression and stress. She claims the school violated the Federal Rehabilitation Act, a federal law that prohibits federally funded universities from discriminating against students suffering from disabilities.

Burbella requested accommodations for disabling depression and anxiety after failing the final exam the first time, and was provided a distraction-free environment, extended deadline and time with the professor on her second try. While Burbella is seeking $75,000 in damages she would rather retake the twice-failed final exam a third time so she can complete her nursing degree.


Colorado Inmate Sues NFL for $88 Billion Over Cowboys’ Loss

Terry Hendrix, an inmate at a Colorado correctional institute, may be the Dallas Cowboys’ biggest fan, perhaps leaning more toward the most fanatical. He filed an $88 billion lawsuit against NFL officials for an overturned call in the Cowboys vs. Packers playoff game on behalf of Dez Bryant, Cowboys fans and “all people in or/and from the sovereign republic of Texas.”

The handwritten lawsuit seeks justice for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and reckless disregard. He goes on to ask for $88,987,654,321.88 — an extremely frivolous figure bookended by Bryant’s jersey No. 88. Presumably, this would be evenly divided among the plaintiffs–the 26.4 million residents of Texas–amounting to a little over $3,000 per person. Spoiler alert: Hendrix lost.

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