After hearing the Guinness Book of World Records planned to name him the most litigious man, one federal prisoner did what he does best -- he sued.
Jonathan Lee Riches' rambling lawsuit against the record-holding institution and several others is just the latest in his growing stash of outrageous court filings against everyone from New England Patriot's coach Bill Belichick to Martha Stewart.
But Riches is not alone in trying up the legal system. Sometimes the coffee is just too hot. Or the the dry cleaners lost a favorite pair of pants. Sometimes, like one Colorado inmate who hurt himself rappelling down a jail wall claimed, sheriff's officials made escaping a little too easy.
Hundreds of lawsuits are filed every day in the United States, for claims ranging from legitimate to ridiculous. A survey of 34 state court systems found 433,000 new tort cases in 2006, down from 547,000 in 1997, according to the National Center for State Courts.
A woman famously sued McDonald's in the early 1990s after she spilled scalding coffee on her legs. A jury awarded her more than $2 million, which was reduced by a judge. A Michael Jordan look-alike sued Nike and Jordan for $862 million because he found it distressing to be mistaken for the basketball star. He dropped his suit after a wave of negative news articles.
"When people bring suits they often sue for the moon," says Phillip Howard, chairman of Common Good, a legal reform coalition. "Some people will bring suits over any accident or perceived slight and the broad effect of that is that people in society go through the day looking over their shoulders."
Here are a few of the more controversial recent lawsuits.
As if finding out he was to be named the world's most litigious man by the Guinness Book of World Records wasn't bad enough, they got the tally wrong, according to federal prisoner Jonathan Lee Riches, who is now suing.
Imprisoned in Lexington, Ky., for wire fraud, Riches, aka Irving Picard, wrote in his handwritten document that he's actually filed more than 4,000 lawsuits in countless courts, not 5,500 as mentioned in a letter Riches said he got from Guinness congratulating him on his distinction.
Riches said in his lawsuit that he sent Guinness Book of World Records 10 letters declining the offer because the facts were wrong.
Now, naming Encyclopedia Britannica and the Library of Congress as two of more than a dozen co-defendants, Riches claimed he faces "iminent (sic) danger and bodily harm from the Defendant's (sic) who plan to publish me and about my life in their books without my authorization or consent."
Riches, whose above mugshot was provided to ABCNew.com by The SmokingGun, also details the injuries he's suffered as a result of his thousands of lawsuits, including "arthritis in my fingers, numbness in my wrists [and] crooked fingers."
While the federal Bureau of Prisons lists Riches potential release date as March 23, 2012, Riches wrote in his lawsuit that he could be released into a halfway house as early as next summer.
"And when I get out of prison I'm going to start a lawsuit 101 shop and teach Americans how to file prose lawsuits," he wrote before detailing his other plan to sell T-shirts with his likeness and the words "watch what you do or I'll sue you."
Darius Dugger wanted his sandwich without onions, pickles and tomatoes.