Michael Jackson and his estate have faced more than their share of strange lawsuits, but this latest one has got to be one of the most outrageous.
Kimberly Griggs filed handwritten paperwork in San Diego, California claiming she had an intimate relationship with Jackson in 1979 and that he went on to use personal details about her life in his music, TMZ reports. She says he wrote about their affair on his Thriller, Bad and Dangerous albums and, after exploiting her personal secrets, promised to give her the rights to the tracks.
He never did give her the rights to his music, of course, and now she is suing for $1 billion in damages.
TMZ sought comment from Jackson's estate, but the calls were curiously not returned.
This latest suit reminds us that Jackson isn't the only celeb to get slapped with a multi-million (sometimes multi-billion) dollar lawsuit that seems, well, a little off the wall (pun intended)! More than a few big names have found themselves embroiled in outrageous lawsuits, whether they're targeted by others (as is the case with Jackson today) or the ones doing the filing.
Below are three of the most outlandish celeb litigations to see the light of day. Check it out!
In 2009, the recently engaged starlet found herself in some hot water after a racially-insensitive photo of her making "slant eyes" found its way online. She was widely criticized by Asian and Pacific Islander groups who said the photo reinforced racial stereotypes, and Cyrus issued a public apology on her website saying, "I've also been told there are some people upset about some pictures taken of me with friends making goofy faces! Well, I'm sorry if those people looked at those pics and took them wrong and out of context! … In NO way was I making fun of any ethnicity!"
But that wasn't enough for one Los Angeles woman, who filed a, ahem, $4 billion class action lawsuit against the former Hannah Montana – who was 16 at the time – on behalf of LA's Asian-American community, alleging the pic mocked Asians and that she (and presumably many others) was left emotionally distressed after seeing it. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed by the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Read on for more!
Never one to do things small, when Oprah found herself in the midst of a major lawsuit, it went on to culminate in a ruling that impacted food-libel laws across the country (via The New York Times). During an April 1996 airing of her "The Oprah Winfrey Show" focusing on mad cow disease, Winfrey was discussing the possibility of the disease spreading to the American beef supply with anti-meat activist Howard Lyman when a comment from Lyman inspired Winfrey to proclaim, "It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger! I'm stopped!"
That lone comment prompted a class action lawsuit from Texas cattlemen saying that because of her vast influence on American culture she cost the cattle industry millions of dollars – cattle futures prices dropped more than 10 percent the day after the program aired, according the cattlemen's attorneys – by wrongly defaming American beef. Oprah moved her syndicated show to Amarillo, Texas, during the trial, causing a spectacle and, according to the Times, casting "herself as martyr."
Some say the case spurred the courts to review constitutionality of the food-libel laws as well as issues regarding freedom of expression – at one point, the judge asked the plaintiff's lawyers, "What you're saying is, it makes a person vulnerable for proposing a hypothesis?'' – and whether popularity or influence somehow transform a person's opinion into fact in certain settings. (The cattlemen's attorney responded to the judge's above statement by saying, "We're not suggesting that. The problem with this show is we believe statements were made as fact.")
Oprah emerged victorious from the suit.
Seeking $100 million in damages, Lindsay Lohan filed a lawsuit against financial-services company E-Trade on March 2010, saying one of its television ads was not authorized to use "her name and characterization" and defamed her by jokingly implying that she was a "milkaholic."
In the commercial, a baby named Lindsay is referred to as a "milkaholic." Lohan's lawyer claimed that the company was clearly referencing the "Liz and Dick" actress because she has the same one-name recognition as, say, Oprah or Madonna, and that E-Trade used her name "as a parody of her life."
A few months later, Lohan dropped the lawsuit, "with prejudice," meaning the issue cannot be brought before the courts again.