Pennsylvania nursing student's case counted among most ridiculous lawsuits of 2015

Pennsylvania nursing student's case counted among most ridiculous lawsuits of 2015.
Pennsylvania nursing student's case counted among most ridiculous lawsuits of 2015.
The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) issued 2015’s “Top 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits” Monday in Washington, D.C., including that of a Pennsylvania nursing student who sued her school for failing to provide accommodations.

Jennifer Burbella, enrolled at Dallas, Pennsylvania’s Misericordia University, sought accommodations for depression and anxiety after failing a course required for her nursing degree. She initially asked for adaptations. After failing a second time, however, she sued the university, alleging failure to accommodate her needs.

“These stories will make you laugh, but -- sadly -- frivolous lawsuits are all too common,” ILR President Lisa Rickard said. “As a society, we’re too quick to sue, and issues that could be settled outside of the courtroom result in expensive and unnecessary litigation and wasted time.”

Not only did the ILR release its “Top 10” list to raise awareness of frivolous lawsuits; it also put together a video spotlighting the “outrageous” cases. While a widely publicized animal rights group’s suit over ownership rights to a monkey’s “selfie” topped the survey, others were valiant contenders for the title of “ridiculous” with trivial lawsuits spanning various scenarios.

In New York, an eight-year-old’s aunt sued him for an overly exuberant hug. Two Manhattan women suffering superficial scratches and “trauma” from a distant explosion in New York City’s East Village raised a furor with their filing, as they were not among the two people killed -- nor the 22 others that were severely wounded.

Other cases include a California bank robber who sued over injuries incurred while fleeing the scene of the crime. An incarcerated Colorado man sued the NFL when the Cowboys lost the playoffs due to an overturned call.

Two filings echoed a 1994 McDonald’s case when a jury awarded a sum to a burn victim. A North Carolina police officer sued Starbucks after scalding himself with hot coffee that was given to him free, and a California woman allegedly faked a similar injury by downloading internet photos and presenting them as evidence. She now faces 21 counts of fraud.

In a Missouri restaurant where servers traditionally toss rolls to diners, a woman went to court over an eye injury. In Florida, a woman tripped over a package left on her doorstep, so she filed suit against FedEx, arguing that she was not properly informed of the box’s proximity to her door.

ILR promotes civil justice reform through activities at the national, state and local levels. The group hopes that raising awareness about this issue will help to diminish the number of ridiculous and unnecessary cases brought before courts nationwide.