Red Bull is the biggest selling brand of energy drink in the world. It is sold in nearly every country on Earth. The company’s slogan is ‘Red Bull gives you wings’, and they have been using that slogan for over 20 years.
In a class action lawsuit, Red Bull was sued by a group of U.S. consumers on the grounds that they thought that by consuming Red Bull, they would grow actual wings or be able to fly as seen in Red Bull’s animated television commercials and print ads. They won their lawsuit.
In October, 2014; Red Bull announced that they will send refund checks to anyone who bought Red Bull in the belief that by consuming their energy drink, they would grow wings or be able to fly. Red Bull agreed to pay out $13 million. That does not include the millions that the company spent in legal fees.
The company also agreed to stop using the slogan ‘Red Bull gives you wings’ and will stop showing people with wings in their ads. See: http://www.businessinsider.com/red-bull-settles-false-advertising-lawsuit-for-13-million-2014-10
I think this story illustrates very well what is wrong with this country’s litigation system. We used to have a legal concept in America called the ‘reasonable man’. It asked the question ‘What would a reasonable man think or do in this situation?’ Today, plaintiffs in lawsuits can win their cases no matter how unreasonable or irrational they are acting, and what kind of society can operate on a basis like that?
It is easy to laugh at stories about absurd lawsuits like this one, but there is a very unfunny side to this story. We are all paying for this kind of nonsense, and we are paying a lot. The cost of frivolous, silly lawsuits and liability insurance is built into the price of everything you buy, including rent.
All landlords buy liability insurance, including me. Landlords are sometimes sued for the most ridiculous reasons, and even though few people win these lawsuits, we still have to defend ourselves, and landlord lawyers are very expensive. I know mine is.
My Opinion. Take a look at the Red Bull ad below. It shows a man with wings. He is flying among the skyscrapers of some big city. It seems to me that the wings on the back of this man are far too short to support his weight. I would guess this guy’s weight at around 170 pounds, plus of course the weight of his clothes. I don’t believe that this man could really fly with wings that small. I also think it would probably very uncomfortable for him to sleep on his back. What do you think?
That’s Discrimination! I once received an application for an apartment from a college student named Andre. He told me that he was living at his mother’s house in Richmond, CA. Andre desperately wanted to move out of his mother’s house and get his own place. I understood exactly how he felt. When I was Andre’s age, I was living in my step-mother’s house, and I was very, very anxious to get out. Andre was a full-time college student with a part-time job. After reviewing Andre’s application, I said: “Andre, as you know, the rent on this apartment is $900 a month, but according to your application form, your income is only $600 a month. If I rented this apartment to you, how would you pay the rent?” Andre looked at the floor, thought about it for a while, and said: “I don’t know.” I said: “Do you have any other financial resources that you could use to pay the rent?” Andre said: “No, I don’t.” I said: “Well, I don’t rent apartments to people who can’t pay the rent.” Andre looked shocked with his mouth open. Then he said: “That’s discrimination! You’re refusing to rent this apartment to me just because I’m poor. You can’t do that!” I said: “Well, actually I can.” Andre was angry. He threatened to sue me on the grounds of discrimination, but that didn’t happen. I knew that Andre didn’t have any money to hire a lawyer, and I thought it was unlikely that he would be able to find a lawyer who would take a case like this on a contingency basis. Even with a good lawyer, Andre would have lost. A landlord has a legal right, even in Berkeley, to refuse to rent an apartment to someone who lacks the ability to pay the rent. – and says so.