Fountain Lady strikes back, and five other unbelievably stupid lawsuits
Cathy Cruz Marrero, the Pennsylvania woman now famous for starring in a viral video -- wherein she falls into a fountain at the Berkshire Mall while texting -- appeared on Good Morning America with her attorney, James Polyak, yesterday. Marrero and pal Polyak are currently pursuing a possible lawsuit against, well, they're not entirely sure.
Help! I did something stupid!
So we'll help them out: Marrero will be suing a mall for being caught doing something stupid. And oddly enough, when she does, she'll be staking her place in a rich history of people doing exactly that.
What damages Marrero will eventually seek are yet to be announced. First, Polyak and Marrero need to establish liability -- the head of security, Polyak hinted to George Stephanopoulos during another TV appearance, must have allowed someone to record the original security footage of Marrero's textacular dive with a cellphone. Assuming the investigation uncovers that tidbit, Polyak will, most likely, have to prove that the head of security was aware that the footage would be republished on YouTube. Of course, this is all based on a best-case scenario for Marrero and Polyak. Without the complicit high-profile employee (if a head of mall security can be thought of in such terms), there's no case. It's Berkshire's money they want, not Phil the security guard who must have had the best day ever once he stumbled upon Marrero's swan dive.
Sounds complicated, but it's not the longest-shot lawsuit ever. Not, in fact, by a long shot.
After searching through piles of false frivolity -- the Internet is full of bullshit urban legends about ridiculous litigation -- here's a look at the top five most unbelievable civil lawsuits that actually happened.
Exhibit A: Since when are weathermen expected to be infallible?
In what ultimately ended in a shocking victory, an Israeli woman sued a weatherman over a miscalculation. The weatherman predicted sunshine. The woman left the house wearing something light and airy. Unfortunately, it rained. She was drenched, caught the flu and missed 4 days of work. She asked for $1,000 and won.
So did the plaintiff's advocate also definitively prove the connection between being wet and being susceptible to unwanted pathogens? Isn't this a simple case of that old Latin gem post hoc ergo propter hoc? Guess not.
How did this affect future case law for Israel? Well, if you happen to meet someone while dancing, sleep with them sans kosher condom and contract AIDS. Then you'll have grounds to sue the party who invited you to the club. L'chaim!
Exhibit B: Lookalike looks like an idiot
In my more formative years, I have had the occasional passerby tell me I looked like either Zack Galifianakis or Robert Downey Jr. Don't see a similarity between them? Me neither. This comparison either irritated or electrified me, depending on whom I was identified as, but I never thought to punish those famous men for having the slightest resemblance to your humble author.
That's what separates me from Allen Heckard -- well, that and he's black.
Heckard of Portland, Ore., filed a suit against Michael Jordan for "defamation and permanent injury as well as emotional pain and suffering." For what, you might ask? Heckard claimed that people were always telling him he looked like Jordan. That's it.
This downtrodden doppelganger was asking for $416 million in damages from Jordan and an additional $416 million in damages from Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. According to Heckard, Knight directly contributed to Jordan's fame by issuing the Air Jordan, a shoe that Heckard admitted to wearing.
Eventually, the case was dismissed, but not after both Jordan's and Nike's legal teams had to assemble, answer the suit, and in a collective sigh, face Heckard, who is six inches shorter, eight years older and at least $832 million poorer than Jordan.