The huge backlog of pending cases in courts is, at one level, a result of the urge among humans the world over to survive in a litigious world and sue anything and everything at the drop of a hat. The other reason, often overlooked, is the number of frivolous and illogical cases that should logically, have no place in a court of law but wind up there anyway. Here’s a few, from across the world including India, that should bring tears to the eyes of any judicial officer and gladden the hearts of prospective litigants:
DTC bus conductor Ranveer Singh Yadav has been fighting a case for almost 40 years. That may not be news but it defies logic when it turns out he was accused of taking 5 paisa extra for a 10 paisa ticket from a passenger in 1973. The case has been through a Labour Court which ruled he was innocent, but Delhi Transport Corporation took the case to the High Court—over 5 paisa! Forty years later and lakhs of rupees spent over the case, the court ruled in his favour. By then, he was 75 years old. DTC, for their litigious efforts, had to fork out Rs 6 lakh as compensation. Forty years and lakhs of rupees spent in court cases over a coin that had stopped being legal tender. It boggles the brain.
Technology can be beneficial, and it can be a pain, an expensive one. An Israeli couple found out the hard way. They had contacted a landlord they found online about their interest in an apartment. In subsequent conversation via text mail, the couple used various smiley faces, as well as other emojis like a champagne bottle and a peace sign. The landlord, believing the couple was genuinely interested, took his property off the market. When the couple backed out, he took them to court for the month’s rent he lost. A judge ruled thus: “Although this message did not constitute a binding contract between the parties, this message naturally led to the plaintiff’s great reliance on the defendants’ desire to rent his apartment.” The month’s rent he ordered them to pay was $2000. Expensive emoji.
What’s in a Name?
In 2014, American dentist Edward Gamson planned a trip to the ancient Spanish city of Granada. He boarded a British Airways flight and nine hours later discovered he had landed in Grenada, an island in the Caribbean. When British Airways refused to reimburse him and his partner $4,500 for their first class tickets he sued the airline, for $34,000 in damages. Moral of the story: always check the ticket and preferably a map. Point to note: There is a city called Delhi in Merced County in California, as well.
Google has become the default button for so many things we did manually or by using our brain, and that includes Google Maps. Laura Rosemberg started walking from Daly Street, Park City, Utah, to Prospector Avenue, a few blocks away, using Google Maps on her BlackBerry as her guide. Rosenberg supposedly followed directions and walked down a major highway, dodging speeding cars. When she got hit by one, she sued Google. Rosenberg apparently never saw the side roads she should have used. The judge observed that it has come to the point where if Google tells you to walk into the middle of a heavily-used highway, that’s what you do.
Birds of a Feather
Taking parrots can be a welcome novelty—or cause for litigation and revenge. Suresh Sakhharkar was locked in a dispute over property with his stepmother. To harass her, he bought a talking parrot named Hariyal and trained it to utter hateful insults and abuses. His stepmother lived nearby and each time she passed his house, he would take Hariyal out to let loose with the choicest epithets the bird had been vengefully taught. The stepmother lodged a police complaint, demanding the parrot be arrested. Sakhharkar was ordered to bring the parrot to the police station. The cops brought the stepmother into the room and waited for the expected expulsion of abuse but the parrot, finding itself in an unfamiliar environment, refused to say anything. The stepmother has now filed a legal case, hoping the parrot will be more mindful in a court of law and open his mouth, or beak.
Pennies from Heaven
Israel seems as obsessed with frivolous litigation as India and the US, judging by the efforts of a woman in Tel Aviv who sued a local TV station. Her complaint: the station’s weather report had predicted it would be a nice day. She went out and got drenched in a sudden downpour. She sued the TV station for $1000, claiming that the incident had caused her stress. The court, seeing the bright side, ruled in her favour.