While The New York Times and Wall Street Journal drone on about class action lawsuits and criminal cases involving government malfeasance, it took the tabloid New York Post to report on the most momentous lawsuit of all time:
Man Suing Almost Everyone For All the Money On Earth
Yup. According to The Post, Anton Purisima, 62, filed his claim in Manhattan federal court against New York City, its transit system, the chain bakery Au Bon Pain, two local hospitals, Kmart, a “Latina” dog owner and a bunch of other parties– for two undecillion dollars, which, amazingly enough, is actually a number, with the “2,” being followed by 36 “0’s.
His case has to do with having his middle finger bitten on a city bus by a “rabid” dog. That may not sound like that big a deal, but apparently after the bite, one thing led to another, and before you know it, you got a case worth two undecillion.
While the “courts are filled with frivolous lawsuits” crowd might think they’ve found the Holy Grail, Exhibits AAA – ZZZ of frivolous suits, this could literally be the Lawsuit To End All Lawsuits because, according to the Post, “two undecillion” is more money than exists in the entire world, so if the guy wins, there won’t be any money left for anybody else to fight over!
You may scoff, but I can see Jimmy Stewart playing Purisima’s attorney in a movie, telling him, “You know, a lot of people will laugh at you, but I believe you have a winnable case here. It won’t be easy, but I’ll do everything in my power to help you!”
And then Stewart stands in front of the jury giving his closing remarks for something like 48 hours straight, inveighing mightily against an inhumane system that allows rabid dogs to roam freely on public transit systems causing infected middle fingers before he collapses in a heap, and the jury comes in with a verdict leaving the entire rest of the world penniless.
Actually, when I saw the Post’s headline, it seemed oddly familiar to me, and that’s because for some three years I “reported” stories like this for the dearly departed gonzo black & white supermarket tabloid, Weekly World News. If while waiting on a supermarket check-out line, you ever picked up a publication and read a story about Elvis being alive on the moon, or Batboy – half human half bat – running for President, that was the WWN.
A fair number of my stories for “The World’s Only Reliable Newspaper,” as it dubbed itself, concerned outrageous doings in our legal system. If it’s not already evident, they were completely fabricated, and played for laughs, although there was always the suspicion that some readers took them at face value.
A few “scoops” revealed egregious behavior by judges. “Judge Reprimanded For Placing Tip Jar on Bench” told of a judge who, whenever lawyers asked to approach the bench, took out a tip jar and placed it prominently in front of them. Another magistrate was also chided for “Judge Places Prostitute Under House Arrest – HIS House!”
On the international law scene, I revealed that Australia had real kangaroo courts – in which rogue kangaroos were placed on trial for punching people and stealing objects by putting them in their pouches!
In a lawsuit that might give Purisima some competition, “February Sues For More Days.” A lawyer who was born on February 29, and thus missed out on birthday parties and perks like free meals at Denny’s filed a class-action suit on behalf of others like him, ordering February to take a day from the adjacent January and March, both of which have 31 days and can therefore spare one.
People in WWN were constantly getting in trouble for strange things. A Georgia man sitting on his porch killed a fly buzzing around his face, leading to this headline: “Man Kills Fly and is Arrested for Pest-icide.” The Georgia police chief defended the arrest, saying “That’s what a SWAT team is for.”
Shortly after 9/11, according to me and WWN, there was a “Man Arrested for Wearing Pants With Zipper in ‘No-Fly’ Zone.”
A lawyer who couldn’t win a case sued himself for incompetence; a highway patrolman who realized that the vehicle swerving all over the road was the one he was driving, gave himself a DUI ticket; a death –row inmate was outwitting his executioners by being in the third-year of his ‘last meal;’ and due to an anti-discrimination lawsuit, a judge ordered the Mafia to admit “law-abiding citizens.”
These were just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and sadly, some “outrageous” stories, like a man killing someone in a movie theater for revealing the end of the film, have come to have real-life counterparts. If WWN hadn’t folded, I like to think I would’ve made up stories about judges texting defendants and plaintiffs appearing before them, and jurors texting lawyers, before they actually occurred. For the most part though, re-reading my WWN stories is a reminder that, as outlandish as our legal system is getting these days, the reality could still be worse.