Shooting for the moon

By Legal Eagle

They say when bartering that the seller should start high and the bidder should start low, and ideally, the two meet somewhere in the middle (at a mutually acceptable price). Still, you don’t want to start so high that you put your customer off or convince people that you’re not serious.

I think sometimes litigation runs by the same principle. The plaintiff starts high, the defendant offers a low counter-offer, and hopefully the parties can meet at a happy middle ground.

But there is such a thing as starting too high. Reuters reports that Dalton Chisholm, a customer of the Bank of America, is suing the bank for “1,784 billion, trillion dollars”. Apparently this is a larger amount than the World Bank’s estimate of the world’s 2008 gross domestic product, which totals $60 trillion.

Judge Denny Chin has issued a written order describing Chisholm’s claims as “incomprehensible”:

He seems to be complaining that he placed a series of calls to the bank in New York and received inconsistent information from a “Spanish woman”. He apparently alleges that checks have been rejected because of incomplete routing numbers.

Unsurprisingly, it seems the bank is attempting to get the claim summarily dismissed. Judge Chin has given Chisholm until 23 October to explain the basis for his claims, otherwise his complaint will be dismissed.

Digital Journal notes that Chisholm has past form. Apparently he sued his landlord for “892 million billion dollars” in January this year, alleging that unidentified maintenance personnel of the landlord entered his apartment without his permission, vandalizing window blinds and the bathroom in the process. Unsurprisingly the claim was dismissed. But he doesn’t seem to have learned from the experience.

The sad thing is that there may be some reasonable grounds for Chisholm’s grievances – who knows? However, starting out with an exorbitant claim isn’t the best way to get your grievances taken seriously.


  1. jc
    Posted September 28, 2009 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Funny hey?

    The same judge dealing with Bernie Madoff has the case who the WSJ describes as having learned to deal with big numbers.

    $50 billion swindle, 150 jail sentence and now $1.7 billion trillion. All in a days work for the judge.

    Funny thing is that the dude may be actually presaging US hyper inflation when a billion isn’t what it sued to be 🙂

  2. jc
    Posted September 28, 2009 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    oops used to be. 🙂

2 Trackbacks

  1. By skepticlawyer » Judges can “Google” too on March 23, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    […] case came before Judge Denny Chin (whom we’ve met before on this blog, most recently here and also as the judge in the Madoff case here). Judge Chin was convinced that it was likely Bari […]

  2. […] making inflated damages claims for their own sakes and for the sake of their clients. Of course, as I’ve noted in a previous post, there’s always an element of bartering in litigation: They say when bartering that the […]

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