For legions of small business owners out there, there isn’t a nightmare worse than the one where someone slaps a lawsuit on you. But for plenty of big businesses, lawsuits are almost like a rite of passage. You’re not successful until someone is trying to sue you for every last staple in the office. But in order to win, companies are often willing to exploit every legal loophole known to man. Sometimes that means admitting to far worse than to what you’re originally accused. Such as …
Gawker Defends Showing The Hulk Hogan Sex Tape By Saying They’d Also Publish Child Porn
Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of a fair democracy. But journalism is a business, and letting a business decide what is and isn’t news can lead to shady behavior. Still, journalists should fight for their First Amendment rights. But that should never involve you defending the right to publish child pornography.
In 2012, Gawker, the internet’s curtain-twitching next-door neighbor, published a sex tape of Hulk Hogan, known not even to his children as Terry Bollea. In the 1-minute, 41-second video, the Hulkster is seen having sex with the wife of his former (obviously) best friend Bubba “The Love Sponge” Clem. As entertaining as that love triangle might sound, Hogan did not think it warranted a gossip site publishing footage of his thrusting buttocks. With the help of tech billionaire and children’s cartoon villain Peter Thiel, Hogan sued the website and its then-editor A.J. Daulerio for severe breach of privacy and being a total jerk.
Hogan’s attorneys were sent out to prove to the jury that, “Mr. Bollea’s penis had no news value” – a good legal strategy and a sick burn. However, when being deposed, Gawker’s editor insisted that Hogan had had so many broadcast discussions about his third leg that it ought to be part of the public domain. To counter this, his attorneys asked Daulerio what kind of celebrity sex tape would be unethical to show. He replied that he would never publish a sex tape of a child. “Under what age?” the lawyer asked. “Four.”
Daulerio later stated that that answer was sarcastic. A legally binding deposition is a great place for you to try out some new comedy material. Of course, Hogan’s lawyers made Daulerio the true villain for this blunder. After only a few weeks of trial, Hogan was awarded $140 million in damages, collecting $31 million and bankrupting Gawker.
Coca-Cola: “Only an Idiot Would Think Vitaminwater is Healthy”
Back in the old days, being a snake oil salesman was a tough gig. These days, however, all you have to worry about is getting slightly plucked in court for false advertising. And even then, like a bad craftsman, you can simply blame your tools – the “tools” in this case being the gullible consumers.
When Coca-Cola first introduced their “healthy” beverage Vitaminwater, its slogan was “vitamins + water = all you need.” But that equation was missing eight teaspoons of sugar and 120 calories per bottle. But Vitaminwater’s false advertising didn’t stop there. The drink had also claimed it would improve the drinker’s metabolism, boost their immune system, and reduce the risk of eye disease. Given a few more years, they could also have promised to grow your hair back and let you see a whole new color.
It didn’t take long for daughter company Glaceau (which is French for “garbage fountain”) to be sued for misleading the public with their advertising. But that wasn’t the case, according to Coca-Cola’s lawyers, because, “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking Vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.” Translation: anyone who thinks drinking a Coca-Cola product won’t give you diabetes is a freaking moron.
After six years of tying the courts up with their nonsense, Coca-Cola finally agreed to stop its misleading advertising, and added “with sweeteners” in the smallest font possible to the label of the bottle. Their team of lawyers concluded: “Although we remain confident in our legal position, it simply made no sense to continue this costly legal battle” – the “You’re not worth it, bro” of legal statements.
But Coca-Cola isn’t the only company that has had to go back on ridiculous health claims made by its sugar water. PepsiCo’s 7 Up Antioxidant dropped any reference to antioxidants (including its name) after being sued for containing so little artificial vitamin E that it wouldn’t even keep a single daisy alive. And there are more goofy soda legal matters.
Pepsi Argues That Their Soda Would Dissolve a Mouse in Months
Here’s a classic con artist trick. You pretend the restaurant has dropped a disgusting human hair in your meal and demand to be compensated for your distress. What you wouldn’t expect would be a waiter telling you that the hair you fished out was the least disgusting part of your meal.
In 2009, an oil company worker in Illinois claimed he had found a dead mouse in his can of Mountain Dew. After vomiting (as we all would), he contacted Pepsi to inform them of their rodent problem. The company immediately sent down a representative to secure the crime scene. However, by the time one of their poor interns had schlepped all the way to Madison County, the incriminating evidence had already been destroyed, hopefully with a tasteful burial and the notification of the next-of-kin.
The Illinois man still sued the company for over $75,000 for rodent-based emotional trauma. But Pepsi was sure that this was an open-and-shut case – not because even a dead mouse could smell this scam from a mile away, though. During the very brief trial, Pepsi paraded a bunch of “experts” who could scientifically disprove that a mouse carcass could have been floating around in the Dew, pointing out that the soft drink’s contents are waaaay too toxic for that. Instead, what the oil man should have found, according to one expert, was a “jelly-like substance,” with all the mousy parts having been dissolved by the refreshing battery acid that is Mountain Dew, like some rodent rendition of the barrel scenes in Breaking Bad.
However, despite the insurmountable evidence in their favor, Pepsi settled out of court, its lawyer hastily stating that the matter, “was settled for an undisclosed sum. It’s a done deal, and both parties are on their way” as he probably sprinted away from the courtroom. Sounds like the company had to pay a “we mentioned jellied mice” tax to get the story out of the morning shows circulation as quickly as possible.
Dr. Oz Claims Giving Bad Medical Advice is an American Privilege
Dr. Mehmet Oz is a cardiac surgeon and professor at Columbia University, who was given his own “informative” talk show to teach people about the latest discoveries in medicine after he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Since then, he has become the Oprah of the medical community, in that they no longer think he’s fit to hand out medical advice either.
Dr. Oz has been widely criticized by both the medical and scientific communities for his incessant shilling of fad diet pills with little to no research backing up his claims. According to a recent study in the British Medical Journal, half of Dr. Oz’s claims are baseless. He’s especially disliked for calling these diet fads he promotes “miraculous,” like he’s some super-faith-healer.
Eventually, Dr. Oz was called to testify in front of Congress, where senators gave the doctor a real way to lose weight fast: by sweating bullets. With him as a sacrificial pinata on the altar of rationality, the presiding senators wasted no time in tearing Oz a new one, going as far as saying, “I don’t get why you need to say this stuff, because you know it’s not true.”
To Oz’s credit, he didn’t back down and pretend that he was hosting a “satire” of a medical show making fun of the kind of people who listen to doctors. Instead, he invoked his God-given right to con the American public. “My job is to be a cheerleader for the audience when they don’t think they have hope,” said the medical professional. “When I can’t use language that is flowery, that is exulting, I feel like I’ve been disenfranchised.” We don’t know what kind of pills you have to take to give you the courage to cry censorship when a room of senators call you out on being a bad doctor, but we’re looking forward to finding out on one of his future shows.