Bad April Fools’ Pranks: all fun and games until there’s a lawsuit, firing, or death.
April Foolers, this is your warning. While hilarious in your mind, even the most well-thought-out prank can backfire. Bad April Fools’ Day pranks happen every year and some pranksters always go a little too far. Instead of laughter, their joke ends with a lawsuit, a pink slip, or worse.
The Ticktin Law Group has compiled this list of pranks that backfired catastrophically. In descending order, our April Fools’ Day cautionary tales.
#5 Did you say “Toyota” or “toy Yoda”?
Chances are you’ve heard of this infamous April Fools’ Day lawsuit. Jodee Berry was a waitress at Hooters who won a beer sale contest. The company promised a Toyota to the winner. Expecting a car, Jodee was instead presented with a toy Yoda — the legendary green Jedi master from Star Wars. Unamused, Jodee sued the company for breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation. They settled out of court.
“Afford any car now, she can.” – Yoda, probably
#4 Fake Robbery, Real Criminal Charge
It should go without saying but don’t fake a robbery this April Fools’ Day. Again, but this time in all caps: DON’T FAKE A ROBBERY. Former clothing store employee Sitra Walker could have used that nugget of advice. One April Fools’ Day, she thought it was a good idea to report a robbery in progress. Shouting “April Fools!” to the police did not excuse the criminal charge of inducing panic. Sitra lost her job, too.
#3 Canned Unicorn, Meet Cease and Desist
Bet you didn’t know Canned Unicorn Meat is a thing (we didn’t). ThinkGeek put the magical goodness on sale as a bad April Fools’ Day product. The product contains no actual chunks of the delicious mythical creature. What isn’t fake: the 12-page cease and desist letter they received. The National Pork Board believed calling unicorn “the other white meat” was in violation of the trademark they owned. Should someone tell them unicorns aren’t real? Not to mention, use of the trademark is protected as parody. ThinkGeek wins this one.
#2 Cloudy With a Chance of Terror
An office hijinks mistaken for terrorism is a clear indication of a bad April Fools’ Day prank. Two 18 year-olds caused quite the scare simply by moving a coworker’s car. The seemingly innocuous office prank backfired because of where the car was moved. The teenagers failed to notice the lot belonged to a nuclear services industry. Fearing a terrorist threat, the nuclear company evacuated its staff. The pranksters faced criminal charges for taking a vehicle and a bomb hoax for their antics. The company suspended the pranksters rather than giving them the boot.
#1 No One’s Laughing Now
A roommate can make a good target, but this story isn’t just a bad April Fools’ prank, it’s tragic. Lin Senhao and Huang Yang were postgraduate medical students living together in Shanghai, China. Lin thought it would be funny to give his roommate discomfort on April Fools’ Day. In the complete absence of good judgment, he added known carcinogen N-Nitrosodimethylaminein to Huang’s water dispenser. Huang checked into the hospital on April 2 and spent two weeks there before passing away. Lin was charged with intentional murder. Despite his claim that it was a prank that backfired, Lin received the death sentence.
On April Fool’s Day, don’t be too foolish
Be mindful of potential consequences and err on the side of caution. Some people can’t take a joke, but oftentimes some jokes are in poor taste. If you or someone you know is the unfortunate victim of a bad April Fools’ prank, contact the experienced attorneys of The Ticktin Law Group for a complimentary consultation by calling (561) 232-2222 or by filling out the contact form here.
- Fabio, M., Esq. April Fools! It’s No Joke When Silly Pranks Turn into Serious Lawsuits. https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/april-fools-its-no-joke-when-silly-pranks-turn-into-serious-lawsuits
- Meyjes, T. (2016, March 30). April Fools Day 2016: Five times practical jokes backfired horribly. http://metro.co.uk/2016/03/30/five-times-april-fools-jokes-backfired-horribly-5783660/
- Officially Our Best Ever Cease And Desist. (2010, June 21). https://www.thinkgeek.com/blog/2010/06/officially-our-bestever-cease.html
- The Joke’s on You: 7 April Fool’s Pranks that Ended with a Pink Slip. (2011, March 29). http://www.vault.com/blog/workplace-issues/the-jokes-on-you-7-april-fools-pranks-that-ended-with-a-pink-slip
- Top 10 Pranks That Got Their Perpetrators Fired. http://www.happyworker.com/magazine/workplace/top-10-workplace-jokes-pranks#.WrqG_tPwZuW