Deep Pocket Justice

In January 2014, while serving a 100-year jail term, Portland pimp Sirgiorgiro Clardy filed a lawsuit against Nike. He demanded $100 million.

He claimed that the company should have placed a label in his Jordan sneakers warning consumers that they could be used as a weapon: Clardy was wearing them when stomping the face of a client who tried to leave without paying his prostitute.

The problem is not so much that the court was forced to spend time on this case. And not that the pimp got what he wanted - he became an international celebrity at the taxpayers' expense, as not only local but national newspapers wrote about the case.

The problem is that the system rewards those who abuse it.

A Moscow court handed down a ruling in a lawsuit against Yandex, Russia's largest search engine. The plaintiff, a PR consultant, demanded damages of 1 million rubles. He claimed that he got bald because he had to read too much bad news.

Frivolous lawsuits can be funny, they can be entertaining, but they are not harmless.

In May 2007, Roy Pearson, at that time an administrative judge in the District of Columbia, sued a dry cleaning service owned by immigrants from South Korea. They allegedly returned him wrong trousers. He demanded $54 million dollars.

He came to this figure by adding up $500 thousand for legal costs (he represented himself), $2 million for mental anguish, $15 thousand for renting a car every weekend to another dry cleaner plus $51.5 million which was supposed to be spent to help other consumers in a similar situation.

The owners of dry cleaning, an elderly couple, tried to settle. They offered $3,000, then $4,600, and finally $12,000 - just to be left alone.

This did not help and the case went on to trial. It took a long time and several court instances. The owners of business, of course, won but their expenses amounted to $83,000. The case, nicknamed the "pants lawsuit", received a public outrage and they managed to start a fundraising company. Otherwise, they most likely would have gone bust.

We sometimes forget that lawsuits are not only about legal skills or justice. They are also about how deep is your pocket.

Let's take a less odious example. A large corporation wants to grab a well-located property occupied by a small but proud company. It files a series of lawsuits against this company in various courts.

The fate of the small company is miserable. It will get drowned in lawsuits. Banks will likely suspend funding, as it is unusual to give money to those who are mired in litigations. Suppliers and counterparts will act in a similar manner. Soon, the business will be closed. There will be no time, no money, no strength to continue.

In the end, the large corporation will get what it wants. Legally. Yet, all the claims were false.

"The real power is to get what you want without any right," said Troekurov in Pushkin's novel "Dubrovsky". And he was right.