The Failure Of The Nanny State
The Failure Of The Nanny State

"I am a personal injury lawyer in the UK. I took a call from a potential client that had fallen down the stairs in her own home. She tripped over her own cat. She told me that she wanted to sue her local authority as her home was owned by the council, and she was not allowed to keep pets as part of her lease.

She claimed that when the house was inspected, she was not told to get rid of the cat. It was, therefore, the council's fault that she fell down the stairs.

We didn't take the case."

Two-Story Drops Void The Warranty
Two-Story Drops Void The Warranty

"I run a consumer advocacy firm. I had a client come in and tell me that he bought a product, and the company refused to honor the warranty after the product broke. I asked for details, and he just started screaming in my face asking if I was going to take his money or not. I decided then that I wasn't taking him on as a client, but I wanted to know what was going on. I convinced him to tell me what happened. Turns out he bought a computer back in the '90s. It recently died. But not because it was old and just stopped working. It was slow, so he picked it up, and threw it out a two-story window. And then he wanted to sue the manufacturer for breaking the warranty."

Losing Body Parts For Money?
Losing Body Parts For Money?

"There was a guy who cut off all of his fingers. He had some awful mental illness -- I assumed schizophrenia or psychosis -- but I never figured out his deal.

He decided one evening that a good way to get some money would be to break into a butchers shop and use a meat saw to cut all his fingers and both thumbs off at the knuckles, which is what he did.

He was found the next morning, somehow having survived. He was put in a mental health facility and made a full, albeit fingerless, recovery.

He wanted to sue someone. He didn't know who he wanted to sue; he had just got it into his head that if he was injured he would get compensation. I remember his biggest question was whether he would get more money if he went back and cut off his feet too."


"After law school, I took a job in a law office in a rural town.

One day, a cousin of one of the partners comes riding up on his bike. The partner said he didn't want to deal with it, so he told me to handle his cousin.

The cousin reaches into his jacket and pulls out a Ziploc bag with a slice of bologna inside. The bologna has a piece of metal in it. Probably something that fell in during processing.

He thinks he has a multi-million dollar product defect case and wants us to sue. Alright.

Did you eat a piece of bologna with metal in it and were harmed?

'No, I saw the metal before I ate it.'

Was anyone else harmed?

'No, we passed it around and looked at it.'

If you aren't harmed by a slice of defective bologna (and, to be fair, this was a defective slice of bologna), your damages are going to be limited to your costs.

I told him that I could get him a free pack of bologna, and that was about it. He was disappointed and he left the slice of bologna at the office. I told him that I'd have his cousin, the partner, take a look at it. Then he left.

I took the slice of bologna back to the partner's office and he nearly pissed himself laughing when I told him the story. The secretaries came in to see what was up and everyone just lost it. That was a fun day.

The slice of bologna went into the freezer at the firm and, as far as I know, it's still there."

Yoruba? I Hardly Knowa!
Yoruba? I Hardly Knowa!

"I dealt with a guy once who wanted me to take on his road traffic accident personal injury claim. He had written a poem, in Yoruba, about the accident. He refused to tell me anything about his case until he's read the whole thing, in Yoruba.

Among other problems, I can't speak any freaking Yoruba! As in, not one word. As in, that day was the first time I had ever heard of the Yoruba language. I'm not even from a part of the world where I might readily be mistaken for someone who speaks Yoruba. It's a West African language, and I am obviously not from a West African background.

I try to explain this to the guy who becomes agitated and insists that he must read out his poem in Yoruba. I give up and tell him to get on with it so we can talk about his claim. He does. It takes him nearly 20 minutes to finish.

Anyway, after he's done, he finishes and sits back with a big smile and says that he's certain I'll take his case on now. I begin to ask him some questions about his case, but he refuses to answer. He says that this poem (in Yoruba) is everything I need to know about his case.

Basically, I tell him to screw off and stop wasting my time. He does, but not before standing around outside my office for an hour or so, reading out his poem, to no-one in particular, over and over again.

In Yoruba."

A Real Jean Valjean-Type
A Real Jean Valjean-Type

"I'm a prosecutor, so I don't get hired to represent anyone, but I do have discretion over how the prosecution progresses. I had a case a few months ago where a man was charged with shoplifting. Turned out he was 70 years old, had absolutely no criminal record, and had shoplifted a SANDWICH which he ate politely in the store. He thought he had paid for it. I was so angry that he was charged in the first place. When I saw him in court, he was terrified. I withdrew the charges and wished him well. I have no idea how it progressed that far."

An Email Campaign Against The Free World

Antonio Guillem/

An Email Campaign Against The Free World

"I worked at a law firm and had a large multinational communications client. Every month, all attorneys that filed on behalf of this client would get a ranting screaming email with dozens of attachments from the same woman complaining about all these legal issues that she thought the executives were engaged in -- fraud, price fixing (for setting their own prices), RICO, wrongful death, abuse, etc. And she insisted that the President of the United States (Obama at the time) was complicit, plus several other world leaders, so she would CC the White House counsel as well as all leaders of the G8 (whether these were real email addresses, I do not know). And her key evidence of these claims? All lawyers she consulted with refused to take her case -- evidently, they were in on it. She filed bar complaints against everyone."

Fifth Divorce Is The Charm


Fifth Divorce Is The Charm

"I worked in IT for a family law firm. One day, a lady came in asking to have an attorney look at her divorce. She had a meeting with the lawyer and told him she wanted the divorce on the grounds that her husband was beating her. The attorney explained that he would be willing to do it, but advised that because the marriage was so short (just a few months), the easiest way to get a divorce and get away from her abuser was just to file a no-fault and get it over with. She started yelling, throwing things at, and hitting him(mind you he is an older guy in his late 60s at this point) telling him that if she could get four other divorces from him then she could do it a fifth time. She had married and divorced the same guy four times before this.

The firm didn't take the case, but our sister firm did take on the guy's case. Turns out she had been the abusive one basically holding him and their kids hostage with threats of telling the police he was abusing the kids and beating her."

Questioning the


Questioning the "Intellectual" in Intellectual Property

"I was working in a law firm and got a call from reception advising that someone had arrived needing some intellectual property advice. I arrived at reception to find a disturbed woman with a persistent facial twitch and a small wheeled suitcase. I took her to a conference room to discuss, making sure I kept a good line of sight to reception. She put the suitcase on the table and opened it to reveal a stack of thousands of handwritten pages and one half of a pair of scissors. She explained that she had written a manuscript about how the city council gave her schizophrenia and hepatitis, aliens stole her pets and that it was all part of a bigger conspiracy involving the army and the Illuminati. She was worried that our local newspaper was going to steal her thoughts and publish her manuscript without her consent, and wanted to register the copyright in her manuscript. We then had a perfectly rational and reasonable discussion about copyright laws. I explained that in our jurisdiction, she didn't need to register it and that she had rights as an author automatically on creation of the work. I told her the most useful thing she could do is ensure she had evidence of her creative work, and that she should send a digital copy to herself and a friend, and also leave a copy with a friend. That way if it was published without her consent she could prove it was her work. We spoke for nearly an hour, she thanked me and then left. She got free legal advice, and I didn't get stabbed with a scissor. I hope she found the help she needs."

The Story Remains The Same


The Story Remains The Same

"I'm in immigration, so most of my 'stupid' cases involve people trying to con the system or 'forgot' to tell us material information.

One lady stood out, though. She was referred to us as a pro bono case. She was filing for asylum based on the fact that's she's a Chinese national and she's also a devout Christian. If she was sent back, she would be persecuted based on religious beliefs. So nothing weird up to this point. She provided me with statements about how she and her family were harassed by the local police and how certain members of her congregation were arrested.

I'm looking at the statements and the names and places sound familiar. Sure enough, a quick online search showed this was one of the 'bought' stories. Essentially what happens is there are people on the internet that sells these packages of fake documents and stories for a successful asylum case. From what I've heard, they are successful previous cases, and someone got a hold of the supporting documents and started mass producing them and selling them. I'm guessing you're supposed to change the names from the original, but this lady didn't. I always thought it was more of an urban legend amongst immigration lawyers.

Needless to say, I did not take her case."

Refer Him The Intergalactic Supreme Court
Refer Him The Intergalactic Supreme Court

"I hand out a lot of business cards, so they inevitably end up in the hands of some questionable people. Eventually, they found their way into the hands of Mr. Bob, who was a unique fellow. He approached me inquiring about suing the federal government, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, the entirety of Congress, and the President of the United States.

This obviously put me on guard due to the ridiculousness of his request, but instead of throwing him out the door, I decided to ask why he wanted to sue the aforementioned parties.

He replied that the government had kidnapped him and performed all sorts of painful experiments on him. He claimed that the government was working with the Reptilians to pursue some generic evil plot against humanity as a whole. He claimed that the only reason he managed to escape was that there was a Reptilian double agent who managed to spring him from his cell, and after laying low for a few years he came to me for help.

At that point, I was done with this conversation. I asked him to wait out in the lobby while I called the local police department to make sure this guy hadn't escaped from prison or some insane asylum (he hadn't).

After I got off the phone, I went back over to Mr. Bob and told him that if the government officials were working under the Reptilians, then that meant they would have revoked their American citizenship and thus were only subject to the intergalactic law. Since I only specialize in the American law practice, I couldn't help him. He seemed disappointed, but he left without making any fuss.

Yeah, that was both the best and worst day of my career. Makes for an interesting story at parties though."

A Scam Is A Scam

Paul Vasarhelyi/

A Scam Is A Scam

"I spent four years giving pro bono legal advice at a law center for people who couldn't afford a lawyer, during which time I had a lot of crazy cases - substance abusers wanting to sue the police for confiscating their stashes, you name it.

One that sticks in my mind is a middle-aged lady who wanted to sue a scaffolding company because they erected scaffolding beside her property while working on the house next door, and she claimed this had enabled a burglar to enter her property and steal a large number of valuable items from her bedroom.

I'm not sure about the cause of action, but I ask her what was stolen. Without batting an eyelid she regales a list of property including a collection of Gucci handbags, designer pens, and sunglasses, etc., coming to a total of over $50,000. I raise an eyebrow because I'm a finance lawyer and I couldn't afford that kind of stuff. Also, this is a pro bono law center for people who can't afford a lawyer.

I ask her what she does for a living and she tells me she's been unemployed for the last 18 years and has been living on benefits in public housing for that whole time.

I ask her if she has receipts for the property which was stolen. Nope. What about bank statements, or even photographs of her with the items? Nope. She claims they were all presents from a friend. I ask her if maybe she could ask the friend for evidence of the purchases. Nope. Mysterious benefactor friend has conveniently just died. She doesn't seem upset.

I change tack and ask how she knows the burglar entered her bedroom through the window. She says that he can't have entered through the door because she has three heavy duty locks on the door. I ask her why. She explains that her son sells substances and is a convicted burglar and he and his friends are always stealing from her. Awesome.

I calmly explain to her that the law center only assists with small claims which at the time were capped at $5,000. Without a pause, she says, in that case, she'll just claim the $5,000. Of course.

I then explained that even assuming we could identify a cause of action against the scaffolder, she would have to satisfy the court that she had owned the property stolen, and the lack of evidence would make this difficult, quite aside from the whole convicted burglar son point. On that basis, we can't take on the case because we have limited resources and have to allocate them to the strongest claims. The woman starts screaming at me that I'm slandering her by calling her a liar and that I'm a racist, sexist pig, that she's going to sue me and report me to the police, have her son burgle my house, etc. I just sit there ignoring her.

Eventually, she realizes that she's getting nowhere and leaves. I close her file and add her to the list of people who are never to be given an appointment again. Justice is done."

A Secret Government Conspiracy To Make Her Sick


A Secret Government Conspiracy To Make Her Sick

"I was working intake for my firm.

One day, a lady calls up and says I have a great case. She told me that a few months ago she had gone in for back surgery and things went terribly wrong. At this point, I'm thinking 'ok it's some kind of med mal.' Then she tells me, while she was under, President Obama snuck into the room and put pig skin into her. The pig skin is still inside her and making her sick.

I went to the partner and told him I have a great case, the bad news is that the defendant has civil immunity for at least the next three years. I was then told to go back to work.

We did not take the case."

Crazy Crackpot Acts As His Own Lawyer

Minerva Studio/

Crazy Crackpot Acts As His Own Lawyer

"I used to intern at a creditors rights law firm. Foreclosures, evictions, subpoenas, etc. Anyways, I was scanning documents from a previous case, so that we could keep digital records of everything. As I scanned them in, I started reading (Didn't sign an NDA or anything, so this story is legal for me to tell); the guy claimed that by foreclosing, we were denying him access to shelter - a basic human right - and were, therefore, trying to murder him. He followed this up with more; since his credit score tanked after that (go figure), he took it as a personal assault by the bank to deny him credit and access to financial services.

At this point, I was thinking, 'what kind of crackpot lawyer would let their client run a case like this?' Then I saw that he was representing himself. All of the documents from his attempted murder suit were attached as a related case.

This is where the situation got even funnier. The guy entered several personal documents into the record, describing the anguish that the incident had caused him, and how his way of life had been destroyed. There was hand-drawn art and dozens of poems, all done horribly by what I can only imagine was a child. I had a good chuckle."

You Can't Fix Stupid


You Can't Fix Stupid

"I drafted a will for a good friend of mine in 2016.

Nothing out of the ordinary about the will itself, but he was an odd fellow. He and his wife went through a NASTY divorce that was finalized in 2011. He was retired military, and she got out with half of his retirement or something like that. In 2013, she bought a house in her own name. In late 2015, he moved in with her. Fast forward to late 2016 and our counseling session, and I find out that:

1) He sleeps on the couch. 2) He pays her rent every month. 3) They have different work schedules, so they never see each other. 4) They wear wedding rings and call each other husband and wife, but they have not remarried.

All kind of weird, right? Even weirder because my state recognizes common law marriage, and they meet two of three common law marriage requirements: they cohabitate, and they hold themselves out as husband and wife in the state of [State]. The third requirement, that they intend to be married, is a bit trickier, but one of them could probably win that argument if they needed to. My state is a community property state, which means that being married has a big effect on the disposition of your estate if you die without a will. Needless to say, all of these factors made things tricky.

So then I asked him what he wanted to do with all of his assets. 'Leave everything to [ex-wife]. She'll get everything to our two sons.'

That was a huge red flag. I started to explain the law to him. Let's say that he leaves everything to her and she decides that she doesn't want to give anything to their two sons; leaving everything to her wouldn't prevent that from happening. On the flip side, dying intestate (without a will) means that she gets nothing because they're not legally married---BUT she could probably win the common law marriage argument and find a way to acquire some of his assets, but that would take time and money and litigation. So why not split the baby and divide the estate three ways? Or create trusts? Or anything but that.

He insisted on leaving everything to her. I told him that, okay, it's your call, but let me talk about this with a lawyer I know who is good at estate planning so that I can feel better about this. He said, okay, no worries. So I talked to my lawyer friend. The look on his face was priceless. He couldn't get over the 'well they wear wedding rings, but he sleeps on the couch and pays her rent and calls her 'my landlord' when I talk to him' thing.

At the end of the day, my friend didn't execute his will."

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