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19 Serious Court Cases with Hilarious Names

'Terrible v. Terrible.' 'Schmuck v. United States.' Sometimes, nobody wins.

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Batman v. Commissioner

Funny court cases involving Batman seem ridiculous for a few reasons. But Texas farmer Ray Batman seriously wanted to convert his farm into a family partnership by transferring some assets to his teenage son. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue said no, but Ray wasn’t getting the Bat signal and brought it up with the Court of Appeals. No luck for Batman.

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Schmuck v. United States

This Supreme Court case upheld the mail fraud conviction of Mr. Wayne Schmuck of Harvard, Illinois. Schmuck’s downfall may have been entrusting judgment to a jury of his peers. Funny court cases always involve a schmuck or two, no matter their name. Find out the dumbest criminals of all time.

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Death v. Graves

Alan and Demetri Death sued Graves & Co. (among others) for crashing their vehicle into the Death family motorcycle. Fortunately, Death lived.

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United States v. Forty-three Gallons of Whiskey

This 1876 case was brought against a man alleged to be transporting whiskey across county lines with the intent to sell to a tribe of Chippewa Indians—then a violation of trade and treaty laws. Sound dumb? Here is the most ridiculous law in every state.

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South Dakota v. Fifteen Impounded Cats

A woman nearly backed into a cop car because her rear window was obstructed by the 15 cats she had been living in her car with for several days. Cops seized the cats, and the woman appealed to the state Supreme Court to get them back. The Court found the cat seizure justified for the safety risk they posed to other drivers.

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Terrible v. Terrible

Nevada couple Joseph and Elizabeth Terrible wanted a divorce for what an outsider might guess were obvious reasons. Funny court cases like this couldn’t have a more terrible name.

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Easter Seals Society for Crippled Children v. Playboy Enterprises

Playboy used fake Mardi Gras parade footage (filmed for the Easter Seal Society’s annual telethon for crippled children) in an adult film. The Supreme Court found Playboy not guilty of copyright violation. In other news, you might be in copyright violation for using these common words.

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United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola

Funny court cases should always involve soda. This was a federal suit in which the government tried to get Coca-Cola to remove caffeine from its product. One sip will tell you how that ended.

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Robin Hood v. United States

A plaintiff who called himself Robin Hood filed a complaint against the United States Government alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (a.k.a. the RICO act, often used to bust organized crime leaders) on behalf of any citizens who had been “robbed by banks, attorneys, and the government they tried to support.” His case was dismissed. These are the everyday thing you do that could get you sued.

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The California Coalition of Undressed Performers v. Spearmint Rhino

Four exotic dancers sued several adult clubs for violating Federal Labor Laws.

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United States v. Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls

U.S. Marshals seized a huge shipment of clacker balls in Wisconsin on the grounds that they posed a hazard to children. A Seattle novelty company filed a complaint against the forfeiture but was shot down by a Washington District Court. The clackers were silenced once and for all.

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United States v. Ninety-Five Barrels (More or Less) Alleged Apple Cider Vinegar

In 1924 the Douglas Packing Company appeared in federal court to argue whether 95 barrels of adulterated apple cider vinegar (more or less) were misbranded. Judgment: They were.

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One 1958 Plymouth Sedan v. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania cops pulled over a ’58 Plymouth for “riding low.” They searched it without a warrant, discovered untaxed alcohol, and seized the vehicle. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that this was a 4th amendment violation. These are the dumbest laws in every state.

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United States v. 12 200-Foot Reels of Super 8MM Film

A California man returned from a trip to Mexico with a bag full of obscene images and films. Customs agents seized them, and the man sued for their return under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court found that the right to possess obscene material does not guarantee the right to import it. Smut overruled. Don’t miss the unluckiest dumb criminals ever.

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United States v. 11.25 Dozen Packages of Articles Labeled in Part Mrs. Moffat’s Shoo-Fly Powders for Drunkenness

This 1941 misbranding case was one of the FDA’s very first actions. Mrs. Moffat’s powder alleged to cure drunkenness; it merely made people vomit from toxic tartar emeric consumption. The court condemned and destroyed the 11.25 dozen packages. These are the weird laws you probably break all the time.

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Nebraska v. One 1970 2-Door Sedan Rambler (Gremlin)

Another due process suit, this one about the illegal seizure of a man’s parked vehicle after he was arrested for drug possession on foot. He lost.

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United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins

The Coast Guard confiscated 32 tons of shark fins from a Hong Kong-based ship in international waters. The U.S. Court of Appeals ordered the fins returned to their rightful owners (sadly, not the sharks).

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Juicy Whip v. Orange Bang

Juicy Whip, Inc. sued Orange Bang, Inc., claiming infringement on its beverage-dispensing patent. The court upheld their patent, and Orange Bang felt the frosty brain freeze of the law.

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Demosthenes v. Baal

Nope, it wasn’t an ancient Greek orator suing Beelzebub. It was a stay of execution plea for a convicted murderer. Next, check out the funny international laws you’d never know were real.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest