Lawsuits against the Devil

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Lawsuits against the Devil (or Satan) have occurred in reality and in fiction.

Actual suits[edit]

United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff[1] was a 1971 case filed before the United States district court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in which Gerald Mayo alleged that "Satan has on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery and unwarranted threats, against the will of plaintiff, that Satan has placed deliberate obstacles in his path and has caused plaintiff's downfall" and had therefore "deprived him of his constitutional rights". This is prohibited under several sections of the United States Code. Mayo filed in forma pauperis - that is, he asserted that he would not be able to afford the costs associated with his lawsuit and that they therefore should be waived. The Court refused the request to proceed in forma pauperis because the plaintiff had not included instructions for how the U.S. Marshal could serve process on Satan.

Fictional suits[edit]

"The Devil and Daniel Webster" is a 1937 short story by Stephen Vincent Benét, since adapted into film. The story is about a New Hampshire farmer, Jabez Stone, who is plagued with unending bad luck. Stone swears that "it's enough to make a man want to sell his soul to the devil!" When Satan, disguised as "Mr. Scratch", arrives the next day, he makes such an offer, and Stone reluctantly agrees to the deal. Stone enjoys seven years of prosperity, and later bargains for three more years, but as the "mortgage falls due", he convinces famous lawyer and orator Daniel Webster to argue his case with the Devil.

The stage play Debate by Irish author Seán Ferrick centered around a lawsuit between God and Satan. It depicted Satan as the prosecutor in a case that would decide who would control the human race. Satan was portrayed by Damien Coffey.

In the 2011 novel The Ultimate Pinner, the main character files a lawsuit against the devil for sexual harassment.

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References[edit]