Did You Hear the One About…
Though much of the information related to these ten tech lawsuits sounds like punch lines to jokes, they’re all real lawsuits from our tech-obsessed century.
We sifted through dockets nationwide to find the most ridiculous ones for your enjoyment.
Rosenberg v. Harwood
After being struck in 2009 by a car while walking in the dark on a busy highway in Park City, Utah, Lauren Rosenberg filed suit against the driver who hit her (Harwood) and against Google. Rosenberg blamed the walking directions given to her by Google Maps for landing her in the middle of dangerous traffic. Google carries a warning about the imperfect reliability of its directions. This summer, a judge threw the case out of court.
Mafia Wars Breaks a Heart
Cheryl Gray of Michigan fell in love online--while playing Mafia Wars on Facebook. She says she began an online relationship with Wylie Iwan over the game. When she sent gifts and booked a flight to visit him in Washington, things apparently got a little too real, and the 35-year-old Applebee's server broke it off.
Gray is now looking for $8368.88 in damages from Iwan--the amount she estimates she "spent on the relationship." There’s no word on whether she plans to go after Zynga for relationship racketeering.
Defamation by Google Suggest
The search giant has had a hard time convincing international courts that its autocomplete suggestions for search queries are harmless. Google lost two cases in France when Suggest added the French word for "scam" to a French organization's name, and another when "rapist" and "Satanist" appeared next to the plaintiff's name.
Google lost similar cases in Italy and Argentina, and an filed by an Irish hotel owner has filed another claiming that a Google autocomplete option indicates that the establishment is in receivership.
The Case of the Pentium Allergy
In 2002, a Dutch woman went after Intel and her government, claiming that exposure to a Pentium processor's high-frequency radiation gave her hives. She apparently had no issues with 486-based processors. Last we heard, no court had been willing to take up the case.
ETrade v. Lohan
When Lindsay Lohan watched a Super Bowl commercial featuring cute babies hawking services for the online brokerage ETrade, she apparently saw a little too much of herself. The former child star filed a $100 million lawsuit alleging defamation because she believed that one of the babies was clearly referring to her when alluding to "that milkaholic, Lindsay" in the ad.
Ridiculously enough, the parties actually reached a settlement in this case, meaning that Lohan probably walked away with some of ETrade's cash.
Star Wars Fans v. Sony
Fans of the online MMOG Star Wars Galaxies were so bereaved when Sony announced plans to shutter it at the end of 2010 that they opted to take on the Japanese corporate Deathstar.
Of course, there were no sustainable grounds for a lawsuit here, but the fans opted to put together a class-action suit anyway out of sheer frustration. We haven't heard anything about the litigation coming before a judge or jury, and we probably never will.
German Gold and the Flamed Florida Farmer
A Florida farmer sued a tiny startup that hosts message boards and chat rooms after discovering a negative post about himself by a message board user. The $800 million suit contended that the company was conspiring to influence the outcome of another court case involving 70-year-old German gold bonds.
Imagine if every online flame war produced a lawsuit--a whole new legal specialty for defending company and product fanboys would emerge.
Bonnen v. Horizon Group Management
When Amanda Bonnen complained about her moldy apartment on Twitter to all 20 of her then followers, rhe tweet prompted her landlord, a property management company, to file suit against her in 2009 for damaging its reputation. It also sought $50,000 from her in the process.
The suit was dismissed because the judge felt that the tweet was too vague to be libelous.
Parents v. Wi-Fi
A Chicago area school district was considered pioneering when it installed Wi-Fi way back in 1995. But in 2003, parents sued the district, alleging that the routers were harming their children. Plenty of schools still have Wi-Fi, and our children still haven't sprouted flippers, so you can guess how this one turned out.
The Batman Bonus
It's not exactly tech, but it is technically hilarious. In 2008, the mayor of the Turkish city of Batman reportedly considered suing Batman director Christopher Nolan and Warner Brothers for royalties from the blockbuster hit The Dark Knight.
As far as we can tell, no suit was ever filed, though according to unconfirmed rumors, a caped crusader now protects the city.