Divorce is never easy. Even the fact that about half of all American couples go through it doesn’t make the process any quicker or less painful. The involved parties usually react with strong emotion, though David Ostrom puts them all to shame.
Tired of being dragged through the mud, the Kansas man showed up to the courtroom looking to pick a fight — literally. Everyone present was appalled by his behavior, but what really shocked them was the possibility that he might have legally been in the right. If divorce were a dragon, then David was ready to slay it.
In the early months of 2020, David Ostrom was barely holding himself together. The 40-year-old couldn’t quite grasp how unfair it seemed that his entire life fell apart, all because David lost the one person he loved most.
His (former) wife Bridgette left him in the dust by filing for divorce and bringing in a high-powered attorney to humiliate her ex in court. David, on the other hand, was left to defend himself.
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The woman he once loved “destroyed [him] legally,” in David’s eyes. She hadn’t gone so far to toss all his possessions out on the front lawn, but the divorce and subsequent cash grab left him feeling emasculated.
It wasn’t enough that Matthew Hudson, Bridgette’s Iowa-based lawyer, was looking for a piece of David’s salary. The attorney was also trying to wrest away custody of David’s kids, and that was something he couldn’t allow to happen.
Hall Hudson, P.C.
As a matter of fact, the Kansas man was so furious that he wanted to smash everything in sight. Maybe that would make him feel better. But as he was daydreaming about wrecking his ex-wife’s living room, a curious thought hit David.
What if the legal system did allow him to smash his problems away? David, though a layman, hit the law books hard before his next court appearance with Bridgette. His bold proposal that day nearly made the judge hang up his robe.
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David looked back to legal proceedings from the days of yore. Rather than rely on evidence to prove their innocence, medieval defendants often had another available avenue with which to free themselves.
Here, in a 21st century democracy, David Ostrom requested trial by combat. The dad stated that he and his wife’s appointed champion would meet “on the field of battle where [they would] rend their souls from their corporal bodies.”
Before anyone could interrupt him, David pointed out that his request did have legal precedent. A few years earlier, Justice Philip Minardo of the New York Supreme Court humorously noted that such duels had not been explicitly forbidden.
According to David’s additional research, “To this day, trial by combat has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in these United States.” However, he explained that he wasn’t ready to jump into the colosseum right away.
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The newly minted warrior requested twelve weeks before the big fight. For one thing, David had positively no experience when it came to sword fighting. He would need to train until he attained a samurai’s skill — if he could find a weapon.
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He further explained that those weeks would give him time to forge a katana or wakizashi himself. David brushed over the fact that this trade takes decades to learn, of course. But that wasn’t his only mistake.
Bridgette’s lawyer was quick to spot a key typo in David’s statement that illustrated just how poorly thought-out his plan was. Instead of writing “corporeal bodies,” David said “corporal bodies” — as if he were referring to a military rank.
Grammatical issues aside, there was the plain possibility that one of the combatants could die, even with the blunted weapons that David suggested. Did the court really want to risk having blood on its hands?
Mr. Hudson wisely observed that a bloody death within the legal system far outweighed the consequences of a custody or property deal. He also had a harsh recommendation for Bridgette’s former husband.
Because of David’s incoherent writing and violent tendencies, the opposing lawyer suggested he be mandated to see a court-appointed therapist. But before the samurai dad could protest, the judge spoke up.
The court had heard enough about this trial by combat nonsense and simply wanted to move on. David wouldn’t have the chance to defend his honor like a true warrior, but he was confident that he came out looking like the bigger man.
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He felt that Bridgette’s lawyer was unreasonable from the start, so he resorted to fighting fire with fire. “I think I’ve met Mr. Hudson’s absurdity with my own absurdity,” David said. He had to know that no judge would take his request seriously.
What David didn’t foresee was reporters all over the country covering his crazy story. They had a field day with the dad who wanted to joust for custody of his kids. But David could take heart knowing that there were far more ridiculous legal battles than his.
In 2001, two members of PETA were driving home from an anti-hunting rally. Their car struck a deer and then, in a strange twist, PETA sued the state of New Jersey for their program to increase the deer population.
In Woody Allen’s film Midnight In Paris, Owen Wilson’s character quotes William Faulkner, which the Faulkner estate interpreted as copyright infringement. The court ruled in favor of the movie, for good reason.
The New York Times
The city of Batman, Turkey, filed charges against Warner Bros. for producing Batman movies without their permission. Fortunately, no judge let these Jokers get far with their suit.
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Allen Heckard sued Nike and Michal Jordan, saying that his resemblance to the basketball icon led to public harassment. He demanded $416 million. He did not win his lawsuit.
Ricard Batista donated a kidney to his wife but when they divorced a few years later, he decided he wanted it back! The court had none of it, ruling it borderline criminal to seize someone’s organ. Sorry, Dick!
In 1996, Israeli weatherman Danny Roup promised sun, and a viewer sued him! She claimed that she got caught in an unexpected storm and missed work due to illness. Amazingly, the news station awarded her $1,000 and a formal apology.
Instagram / Danny Roup
Jonathan Lee Riches holds the Guinness World Record for most filed lawsuits, with over 5,000 to his name. His most outrageous one came in 2012 when he claimed that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian had ties to Al-Qaeda. But as everyone knows, the Wests only commit crimes against fashion.
An urban legend spread that a Chinese man sued his wife for giving birth to ugly kids. Though untrue, model Heidi Yeh appeared in an ad playing off the story in 2012. Unfortunately, this caused many agents to think she had surgery herself.
As the rumors spread, Heidi couldn’t find any more modeling jobs, and her boyfriend dumped her! Desperate to get her life back together, she filed a suit against the advertising agency for misusing her image.
Anton Purisima channeled his inner Dr. Evil when he sued for more money than actually exists in the world. After a dog bit him in a restaurant, he sought two undecillion dollars. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t get the cash.
How’s this for a get-rich-quick scheme? Inmate Robert Lee Brock sued himself for $5 million, based on the fact that his drunken behavior violated his religious beliefs and led to his imprisonment. Of course, Robert stayed right behind bars.
We all remember Subway’s catchy $5 footlong jingle from a few years back. But only Jason Leslie took the time to measure his sandwich, finding it fell a half inch short! He accused the chain of false advertising, but his efforts came out as stale as a Veggie Delite.
Age is just a number, according to famed German playboy Rolf Eden. So when an attractive 19 year old turned down the septuagenarian’s advances, he claimed age discrimination. Soon after, he dropped the case and said it was just a joke.
High-end antique dealer Karl Kemp sued three homeless people for $1 million, on the grounds that they scared customers away from his shop. Aside from not receiving a dime, Karl got a ton of negative press for his unfair demands.
The New York Times
Tabloids had a field day when an elderly woman named Stella Liebeck sued McDonald’s after she spilled coffee on her lap. It’s actually less ridiculous than it sounds. The overheated coffee caused third-degree burns and a period of hospitalization. Mickey D’s eventually settled with Stella outside of court.
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The Romanian Orthodox Church paid a visit to court when convicted murderer Pavel Mircea accused his creator of abandoning him. The judge tossed the case out after God, who has no legal residence, couldn’t be served with the proper documents.
In 2017, after a monkey nabbed a photographer’s camera and took a viral selfie, PETA sued. Though the photo entered the public domain, they argued that the primate should own the copyright. It drove the judge bananas — and that’s not the only time a lawsuit brought everyone involved together…
As part of a work experience class, 11th grader Brian Delekta worked as a paralegal in his mom’s office. She awarded her precious boy an A+, but the school gave out A’s as their highest grade. Infuriated, the Delektas tried to sue the school in an effort to boost Brian’s chances to become valedictorian.
While on the lam, Jesse Dimmick abducted Jared and Lindsay Rowley, but they got away and sent the cops straight to his hideout. The kidnapper attempted to sue them for breach of contract, as he made them agree to help him evade the authorities.
When high schooler Vinicios Robacher fell asleep in class, his teacher knocked on his desk to wake him up. Allegedly, the shock made his head slam into the desk, bursting his eardrum. His parents filed an official complaint, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Of course, not every school lawsuit is so frivolous…
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Just ask Erin Cox! Everyone in North Andover, Massachusetts, knew she was a star. The 17-year-old had a bright future ahead of her, but then one fateful night in 2013 threatened everything she worked for.
Word spread throughout North Andover High School about a huge party going down that weekend. There would be no parents, no rules. However, Erin decided right away that she wasn’t going to attend.
After all, it was right in the middle of volleyball season! As the captain, Erin needed to keep her wits about her. Plus, if the party turned out as wild as everyone said, some serious trouble could arise.
Instead, Erin spent a quiet night at home, but her peace of mind vanished when her cell phone chirped out of the blue. The volleyball star got a text from a friend at the big party. She needed Erin’s help — badly.
Without telling her parents, Erin sped over and saw that the party indeed lived up to the hype. Teenagers packed the house, and there was alcohol everywhere. But where was the friend who called her?
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Erin finally located her friend, but she was in rough shape. She couldn’t even work up the strength to get in Erin’s car and ride home, so Erin had to wait for her to recover. Erin nervously looked around as the party grew rowdier and more out of control.
The good mood evaporated when the whine of police sirens approached. A number of partygoers fled, but Erin couldn’t leave her friend alone. She gulped as officers entered the house and scoped out the empty cans that littered the floor.
Having busted their fair share of parties, the police knew underage drinkers when they saw them. They arrested eight North Andover students, though Erin was not among them. However, they weren’t done with yet…
Other students told police that Erin — the last person anyone expected to get in trouble — had in fact shown up at the party. It was bad enough when authorities informed her she would receive a court summons. Then, the school punished her too.
North Andover High School didn’t just suspend Erin. They also went after her volleyball credentials, banning her for the next five games and stripping away her captaincy. Suddenly, everything she worked for was gone.
The decision broke the heart of Erin’s mom, Eleanor. She felt the athletic suspension was excessive and unfair — wasn’t her daughter simply trying to help a friend in need? Eleanor opened up the phone book to find a good lawyer.
Eleanor got in touch with experienced attorney Wendy Murphy, who took on Erin’s case. Wendy said that she wanted to do more than just challenge the school’s decision with a lawsuit; she wanted to take Erin’s story public.
After all, the school went far beyond giving Erin a slap on the wrist. As an aspiring college volleyball player, every game counted toward making her dream come true. Aside from that, had she really done anything wrong?
Wendy honed in on North Andover superintendent Kevin Hutchinson’s judgment. She characterized his stance on underage drinking as a “zero tolerance” policy. In addition to the rule itself being unfair, no one actually said Erin consumed alcohol at the party.
Police officer Brian Neeley chimed in to support Erin’s defense. He said she “was polite, articulate, steady on her feet, and very remorseful for her decision to go into the residence but was only helping a friend out that had called her for a ride.”
Wicked Local Photo / Kathryn O’Brien
Furthermore, Wendy argued Erin’s discipline violated Title IX guidelines, which banned gender discrimination in educational settings. Specifically, male athletes in Erin’s class broke similar rules, and their punishments were nowhere near as severe.
North Andover Public Schools
Wendy implored North Andover to reconsider their policies, as Erin only showed up at the party to come to her friend’s aid. To Wendy, it seemed clear that Erin’s name needed to be cleared.
After all, did the school really want to encourage their students to drive drunk rather than break the rules? By doing this to Erin, the administration was setting a dangerous precedent.
All eyes turned to Judge Kevin Gaffney. The resulting decision shocked everyone. Gaffney ended up tossing out the entire case. Erin would simply have to wait out her suspension and hope for the best when it came time for college recruitment.
Eagle Tribune / Amanda Sabga
Weeks later, Erin finally made her grand return to the court. She felt stunned when a huge wave of applause greeted her. Through it all, the North Andover community stuck by her side. Erin only hoped the controversy wouldn’t hurt her volleyball career.
Erin rediscovered her groove almost immediately. As a matter of fact, she stood out the rest of the season and accomplished her number one goal: the next year, she earned a spot on the Southern New Hampshire University team! No judge could take that away from her.