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Lawsuits against supernatural beings

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(Redirected from Lawsuits against God)
Daniel Webster argues on behalf of a plaintiff while the Devil whispers into the judge's ear.

Lawsuits against supernatural beings, such as God or the devil, have occurred in real life and in fiction. Issues debated in the actions include the problem of evil and harmful "acts of God".

Actual suits


Betty Penrose


In 1969, Arizonan lawyer Russel T. Tansie filed a suit against God on behalf of his secretary, Betty Penrose, seeking $100,000 in damages. Penrose blamed God for his "negligence" in allowing a lightning bolt to strike her house.[1] The lawsuit was placed under the argument that God owned property in Sonoma County, due to the Limeliters singer Lou Gottlieb transferring the deed of his Morning Star Ranch to God about a week before. The deed was ruled invalid, due to God not being able to take possession of the property, and hence Penrose's lawsuit was also ruled invalid.[2]

Ernie Chambers


In the U.S. state of Nebraska, State Senator Ernie Chambers filed a suit in 2008 against God, seeking a permanent injunction against God's harmful activities, as an effort to publicize the issue of public access to the court system.[3] The suit was dismissed because God could not be properly notified, not having a fixed address. The Judge stated, "Given that this court finds that there can never be service effectuated on the named defendant this action will be dismissed with prejudice".[3] The senator, assuming God to be singular and all-knowing, responded "The court itself acknowledges the existence of God. A consequence of that acknowledgement is a recognition of God's omniscience. Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit."[3][4]

Nebraska media inaccurately reported that Chambers filed the lawsuit in response to another lawsuit that he considered to be frivolous and inappropriate.[5] Chambers clarified that, on the contrary, his intention was to demonstrate that no lawsuit should be considered frivolous. He feels anyone should be able to sue anyone else, "Little Orphan Annie no less than Daddy Warbucks and Warren Buffett." By suing God he "emphasized that attempts by the Legislature to prohibit the filing of any lawsuit would run afoul of the Nebraska Constitution's guarantee that the doors to the courthouse must be open to everyone."[6]

In response to Chambers' case, two responses were filed. The first was from a Corpus Christi lawyer, Eric Perkins, who wanted to answer the question "what would God say".[7] The second was filed in Douglas County, Nebraska District Court. The source of the second response, claiming to be from God, is unclear as no contact information was given.[7]

On July 30, 2008, local media sources reported the Douglas County District Court was going to deny Chambers' lawsuit because Chambers had failed to notify the defendant.[8] However, on August 1, Chambers was granted a court date of August 5 in order to proceed with his lawsuit. "The scheduling hearing will give me a chance to lay out the facts that would justify the granting of the motion," Chambers was quoted as saying. He added, "Once the court enters the injunction, that's as much as I can do ... That's as much as I would ask the court. I wouldn't expect them to enforce it."[9]

However, a judge finally did throw out the case, saying the Almighty was not properly served due to his unlisted home address.[10] As of November 5, 2008, Chambers filed an appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court.[11] The former state senator John DeCamp and E. O. Augustsson in Sweden, asked to represent God. Augustsson's letters, mentioning the Bjorn were stricken as "frivolous". The Appeals Court gave Chambers until February 24 to show that he notified DeCamp and Augustsson of his brief,[12] which he did. The case was finally closed on February 25 when the Nebraska Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal and vacated the order of the district court. The court quoted cases according to which "[a] court decides real controversies and determines rights actually controverted, and does not address or dispose of abstract questions or issues that might arise in hypothetical or fictitious situation or setting".

Pavel M.


In 2005, a Romanian prisoner identified as Pavel M., serving 20 years after being convicted of murder, filed a lawsuit against the Romanian Orthodox Church, as God's representatives in Romania, for failing to keep him from the Devil, essentially stating that his baptism had been a binding contract.[13]

The suit was dismissed because the defendant, God, was neither an individual nor a company, and was therefore not subject to the civil court of law's jurisdiction.[citation needed]

Chandan Kumar Singh


Chandan Kumar Singh, a lawyer from Bihar, India, sued the Hindu god Rama for mistreating his wife, the goddess Sita. The court dismissed his case, held on 1 February 2016, calling it "impractical".[14][15]

Gerald Mayo


United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff 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". (Depriving someone of constitutional rights 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.[16]

Fictional suits


Consolatio peccatorum, seu Processus Luciferi contra Jesum Christum – Jacobus de Teramo's 14th-century writing of Lucifer's lawsuit against Christ

Against God


In the Australian comedy film The Man Who Sued God (2001), a fisherman played by Billy Connolly successfully challenges the right of insurance companies to refuse payment for a destroyed boat on the common legal exemption clause of an act of God. In a suit against the world's religious institutions as God's representatives on Earth, the religious institutions face the dilemma of either having to state God does not exist to uphold the legal principle, or being held liable for damages caused by acts of God.[citation needed]

An Indian film, OMG – Oh My God! (2012), has a protagonist Kanji Mehta (played by Paresh Rawal) file a lawsuit against God when his shop is destroyed in an earthquake and the insurance company refuses to take his claim, stating that "act of God" is not covered under his insurance policy. The Telugu film Gopala Gopala is a remake of this, as is the 2016 Kannada-language Mukunda Murari.[citation needed]

In the Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel The Brothers Karamazov (1880), one of the characters tells the story of a grand inquisitor in Spain who meets an incarnation of Jesus, interrogates him and exiles him.[citation needed]

Former Auschwitz concentration camp inmate Elie Wiesel is said to have witnessed three Jewish prisoners try God in absentia for abandoning the Jewish people during the Holocaust. From this experience, Wiesel wrote the play and novel The Trial of God (1979). It is set in a Ukrainian village during 1649 after a massacre of the Jewish inhabitants, possibly as part of the Khmelnytsky Uprising. In the play, three traveling minstrels arrive in the village, having intended to perform a play. Instead they perform a mock trial of God for allowing the massacre. The verdict is innocent, after a stirring lone defence by a stranger who, in a twist, is revealed to be the Devil.[citation needed]

The television play God on Trial (2008), written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, depicts a scene similar to that attributed to Elie Wiesel, but is also described by Boyce as "apocryphal".[17] In it, three Auschwitz prisoners sue God. The trial returns a guilty verdict, although with likely reasons for appeal.[18]

Against the Devil








See also



  1. ^ "Deity 'Facing' California Suit". The Indianapolis Star. Indianapolis, Indiana. 1969-05-14. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  2. ^ "Suing God: Good Luck With That! - Axess Law". 2020-09-21. Retrieved 2023-05-03.
  3. ^ a b c "Suit Against God Thrown Out Over Lack of Address ", Associated Press as published on yahoo.com, 15 October 2008, accessed 20 October 2008 Archived October 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ MSNBC (2007-09-17). "State Senator Ernie Chambers Sues God". Retrieved 2007-09-17.[dead link]
  5. ^ Nate Jenkins (2007-09-17). "Chambers sues God in protest of another lawsuit". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-09-18.
  6. ^ Chambers, Ernie (January 27, 2011). "Former senator clarifies statement". The Daily Nebraskan. Lincoln, Nebraska. Retrieved October 16, 2008.
  7. ^ a b "'God' Gets an Attorney in Lawsuit". AP. Sep 21, 2007. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007.
  8. ^ "Nebraska Senator's Lawsuit Against God Fizzling"[permanent dead link], KOLN/KGIN.com. Retrieved 8/1/08.
  9. ^ Cole, K. "Chambers Aims to Get Judge's Blessing" Archived 2017-08-30 at the Wayback Machine, Omaha World-Herald as published on RedOrbit.com. Retrieved 8/1/08.
  10. ^ "Suit Against God Thrown Out Over Lack of Address ", Associated Press as published on yahoo.com. Retrieved 10/15/08.
  11. ^ Heller, Matthew "Plaintiff in God Lawsuit Appeals to Higher Power" Archived 2009-01-09 at the Wayback Machine, On Point News Retrieved 11/11/08.
  12. ^ Paul Himmel: Chambers aims to revive case with 'all-knowing' argument
  13. ^ Prisoner sues God Archived October 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine Ananova, undated, accessed 20 October 2008
  14. ^ "Man Sues Lord Rama For Cruelty Towards Wife Sita". HuffPost. 2016-02-01. Retrieved 2022-12-25.
  15. ^ "Why an Indian lawyer tried to sue God". BBC News. 8 February 2016. Archived from the original on 2023-05-24.
  16. ^ United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (1971)
  17. ^ Losing my religion The Guardian, 19 August 2008, accessed 20 October 2008
  18. ^ Last Night's TV: Lost In Austen, ITV1 God On Trial, BBC2, Thomas Sutcliffe, The Independent, 4 September 2008
  19. ^ a b c Yablon, Charles (February 2000). "Suing the Devil: A Guide for Practitioners". Virginia Law Review. 86 (1): 103–115. doi:10.2307/1073956. JSTOR 1073956.
  20. ^ Toro, Gabe (April 12, 2012). "Review: 'Suing The Devil' A Genuine Career Low For Malcolm McDowell". Indiewire.
  21. ^ "The Simpsons (Classic): "Treehouse Of Horror IV"". The A.V. Club. 2012-12-16. Retrieved 2024-05-18.