America is a notoriously litigious nation. A 2005 study showed that the U.S. has 3.3 lawsuits for every 1,000 citizens. And while many of them are noble and just, countless legal battles seem to be pointless wastes of time, money, or both. Here, nine of 2012's more eyebrow-raising lawsuits:
1. The inmates who sued for access to dental floss
Four inmates at a prison in West Palm Beach, Fla., have filed a lawsuit claiming "pain and suffering" due to their lack of access to dental floss. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw says there's too great a risk of floss being used as a weapon or a rope. "I don't care if they file 400 suits, they're not getting it," said Bradshaw. "This isn't the Ritz-Carlton."
2. The law student who sued her school for allowing her to enroll
Morgan Crutchfield says it's the fault of Lincoln Memorial University and the John Duncan School of Law in Tennessee that she wasted $80,000 on law school tuition, since she did not complete her undergraduate degree and is ineligible to take the bar exam. Administrators should "know what the requirements are," said her lawyer.
3. The motorcyclist who sued Florida for failing to warn him of wild panthers
A motorcyclist injured when he collided with a panther is suing the state of Florida. Kenneth Nolan, 57, hit the wild cat on a highway in Big Cypress National Preserve, and says a roadside "animal detection system" failed to alert him. "The product is intended to protect not only humans but panthers," said Nolan's attorney. "In this case it did neither."
4. The woman sued for painting her granddaughter's playhouse pink
A Georgia woman is being sued by her local homeowners association for painting her 4-year-old granddaughter's spacious playhouse shades of pink and purple. While the organization's rules dictate that a shed or garage must be painted the same color as the house itself, homeowner Becky Rogers-Peck contends that a playhouse is not the same as a shed. "The general reaction is, 'Are you kidding me?'" she told TODAY.com. "They're suing you over a pink playhouse?"
5. The frat brother injured by a rocket fired from a fellow brother's anus
A West Virginia college student is suing his fraternity, alleging that he fell off a deck when a drunken frat brother fired a bottle rocket out of his own anus. Louis Helmburg III alleges that Travis Hughes's bottle-rocket stunt so startled him that he jumped back and fell. "Firing bottle rockets out of one's anus," the lawsuit states, "constitutes an 'ultrahazardous' activity."
6. The mistress who sued the county for not detecting her affair with a police officer
The former mistress of a Nassau County, N.Y., police officer is suing the county, claiming his supervisors should have stopped him from sleeping with her. Tara Obenauer, 42, a Wall Street executive, says the department was "negligent" for not knowing Officer Mike Tedesco often visited her home while on duty, and that the affair caused her "severe and substantial emotional damage." A lawyer for the county said the claim "defies imagination."
7. The bus driver who sued a hospital for ignoring his persistent erection
A bus driver is suing a Connecticut hospital, claiming that the staff watched a baseball game instead of treating his persistent erection. Daren Scott went to the Yale–New Haven hospital with a painful erection that had lasted four hours. For an hour, he claims, "the staff, including the physicians, continued to watch the baseball game and ignore plaintiff's condition," resulting in lasting damage.
8. The woman who sued a Little-Leaguer after getting hit by his errant baseball
A New Jersey woman hit by a baseball at a Little League game is suing the 11-year-old player who threw it. Spectator Elizabeth Lloyd wants catcher Matthew Migliaccio to pay her $150,000, alleging that his errant warm-up throw was "reckless." "The whole thing has almost been surreal," said the boy's father. "We keep thinking it's just going to go away."
9. The job seeker rejected for not being "born again"
A job seeker is suing the Voss Lighting Co. of Nebraska, claiming he was rejected because he hadn't been "born again." Edward Wolfe says his interviewer asked for details on how he'd been "saved," and became "agitated" when Wolfe said he hadn't been. Voss says the applicant it hired instead of Wolfe simply "had more lighting product experience."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How Ronald Reagan turned America into a nation of children
- The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
- Why Mitt Romney is perfectly poised for a comeback in 2016
- Why scientists can't kill HIV
- 8 things the world's most extraordinary survivors can teach you about resilience
- The crusade against Iraq War supporters has forgotten someone: Hillary Clinton
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 8 secrets to steal from power networkers
- Why is the West so afraid of Islam?
Subscribe to the Week