Nearly Half of the World’s ‘Most Ridiculous’ Lawsuits Were Filed in NY
By Julia Marsh
Nearly half of the “most ridiculous” lawsuits in the world last year were filed in New York.
The Empire State has the dubious distinction of landing four of the top 10 spots in an annual list compiled by the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.
A Brooklyn federal class-action suit against Kind Bars took the No. 2 spot. The snack-bar company was sued for putting what the plaintiff called “chemical-sounding terms like ascorbic acid” in its products, which is just another name for vitamin C, the institute says. The case is ongoing.
The No. 3 slot belongs to Biola Daniel, of Manhattan, who sued Tootsie Roll Industries, claiming her box of Junior Mints was half-filled with air — even though the amount of mints is listed on the package.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald tossed the candy case, saying that allowing the suit to proceed would “enshrine into law an embarrassing level of mathematical illiteracy.”
“The law simply does not provide the level of coddling plaintiffs seek,” she added.
Still, the ruling is being appealed.
Pending New York suits also took the final two spots in the top 10. A Buffalo-area woman named Julie Fletcher claims in her case that Canada Dry Ginger Ale tricks customersbecause the soda doesn’t contain real ginger. Yet the ingredients are clearly listed on every container.
Squeaking in at No. 10 is Abraham Jacob Warner’s Albany federal-court suit against StarKist Tuna. Warner claims the American Heart Association Heart Checkmark logo on StarKist cans fools consumers into thinking that tuna is healthier than other brands.
The suit that took first place was a California case that resulted in a judge’s determination that coffee must be served with a cancer warning label — even though the Food and Drug Administration has said there’s weak evidence that caffeinated java causes cancer and, indeed, coffee may actually reduce the risk of some cancers.
“These individual lawsuits may be good for a laugh, but the collective impact of excessive litigation on society is no joke,” said Lisa A. Rickard, head of the Institute for Legal Reform.
The group previously found that New York shoulders the highest costs of torts paid in the US courts system — at more than $6,000 per household.
Tom Stebbins, director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, called out Albany legislators for protecting “lawsuit-friendly laws favored by the trial-attorney lobby.”
“That’s why New York has more lawyers per capita than any other state. As a result, and to the detriment of the rest of the economy, the lawsuit industry is booming,” Stebbins said.