Who Else Shall We Sue Today?

A reader of the Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer named Keith Hempstead is suing the newspaper because, he argues, recent staff cuts have made the paper not worth the money he paid when he renewed his subscription. Hempstead, perhaps not surprisingly, is himself a lawyer.

Highlights from the N&O‘s own report:

In a phone interview today, Hempstead, 42, said he could cancel his subscription but filed the suit to make a point. … “I hate to see what companies that run newspapers are doing to the product,” Hempstead said. “The idea that taking the most important product and reducing the amount of news and getting rid of staff to me seems pointless to how you should run a newspaper business.”

“We’ve had some really good papers recently, and they’re worth more than the 36 cents a day that Mr. Hempstead is paying us,” [the N&O‘s executive editor John] Drescher said.

“In fact, he owes me money,” Drescher continued. “So when he gets a lawyer, he can work with my lawyer and figure out how much he’s going to pay me for the excellent coverage he’s been getting recently.”

As much of a nuisance as Hempstead’s suit may seem, it certainly suggests other plaintiff possibilities. Shall I sue the New York Yankees if I take my family to a game and the team underperforms? I can certainly think of a restaurant or two that deserves my legal attention. And what about all the schools I’ve ever attended, none of which managed to teach me everything I wanted to know?

Since we’re in the suing mood, who would you like to take on?

(Hat tip: Romenesko)

Mark Hawes

I want to sue the makers of the "club", car theft deterrent device, for raising the risk of my car being stolen for not having it.


I saw this in the daily comics a couple of years ago.

Woman to lawyer in his office: I want to sue PETA for pain and suffering caused by making me aware of the pain & suffering caused by my lifestyle choices.


Sitting here in the UK, they always have the feeling that the US justice system is one enormous frivolous law suit anyway. This type of thing sort of confirms it in their minds.


there are many other ways to change the world--- and theyre all annoying

Emmanuel M

Honestly, I don't think his case is that stupid. I mean, he has a defendable point of vue. He was sold a subscription to a big regional parer, will get a subscription to potentially less interesting one. Should the paper offer a refund : guess what, he already gest the possibility to cancel his subscription.

Sounds an unemployed lawyer prefers to train himself (and perhaps become better known) than sit in his office while no case comes.

I see 2 positive points in this :

* as I am not american, none of my tax dollars will fund this trial

* though often frivolous and motivated by greed, such trials can sometime slead to an improvmeent in consumer rights.


why are most people following the blogger's lead with the snide and incredulous attitude? while the lawsuit may lack some merit, it cannot be compared to suing a sports team for losing or bringing a lawsuit because of purely personal disappointment (examples of which other commenters have so brilliantly listed). a sound media is in the public interest. the media is the most important check on government power and facilitates the citizenry's ability to participate in democracy. please don't equate a concern with this important mechanism in our society with the relatively inconsequential gripe over a disappointing visit to a local eatery.


"market will kick it out" will be remarks from academician,what i want to know is when will it be kicked out by market?


The idea of a class action suit against several state boards of education strikes me as a genuinely good idea. My K-12 education, for instance, was a joke.


I would like to sue S. Dubner and S. Levitt. Before I read Freakonomics I viewed the world with much more naivete, and since with a greater cynicism. I can no longer enjoy a good Sumo match, nor let a real estate agent sell my home. Truly, can I trust anyone? Next thing you will tell me that pro wrestling is rigged and lawyers cannot be trusted. How much is mental and emotional pain and suffering worth these days?


I hate to break it to you but that's what lawyers do: sue. According to the American Bar Association there are currently 1,116,967 lawyers in the US, this is one per every 300 citizens. [HT: wisegeek.com]

Anyone can sue anyone else, anytime, for any reason whatsoever. One estimate is that frivolous lawsuits cost the average consumer over $1,800 per year. Guess where that money goes.

I'd much rather be sued than be shot or beat up and this is one purpose of our style legal system. However, considering how the attorneys "police" themselves, there is little risk to them for resorting to such foolishness as manifested by the above mentioned, egocentric, miserable excuse for a human being.


this is a mental recession you nation of whiners


What are his damages? The difference between the paper's cost and what he thinks it was worth for the few months he read it before he decided to sue? We can't be talking about more than $20-30?

I'm not a lawyer, but doesn't he need to evidence loss/damages? What a joke.

Jared S

DeVry University and Ross University School of Medicine for not giving me accurate credit on my transcript for courses taken and refusing to fix the issue when I brought it to their attention.


This lawyer is teaching a good lesson to economists. He's having the knee-jerk reaction of his profession by turning everything into a potential lawsuit, much the way that economists see everything through the lense of supply and demand ("Cancel your subscription!"). There are many other ways to change the world.


So, we expect newspaper to operate at a loss to be "good." Everyone wants something for nothing ...

Rick A

Can I sue the American Bar Association and all the local and state Bar Associations for what lawyers like this parasite have done to this country?


Who to sue? Keith Hempstead's law school professors. They should have taught him to recognize frivolous and meritless lawsuits.

Ben Karol

Now he may have incurred considerably more loss than $20 if the reporter layed off was in the Businsess section since he may be out a review of a local company that he could have invested in, or the just right piece of finacial advice. So he can sue for the ideal content that never appeared. I would like to sue everyone ever for not writing down the things that I need to know all of the time, and why do I have to write this it should already have been writen by you people. I'm Suing.


When Social Security fails, I'd like to be able to sue the government for all the money I put into it.


Filing a lawsuit to make a point??

I hope the judge issues a heavy fine to this guy for such a frivolous waste of time and resources, thus making a bigger point!