April Fools’ Day is rapidly approaching and while most simple
shenanigans go ignored on this day, quite a few also land the pranksters in hot
water with the law. This blog post will share a few of those cases and point
you in the direction of searching for more!
While the history of April Fools’ Day is a bit of a mystery,
it is also a day where pranks are typically expected and pranksters often push
the limits of what they can get away with in the name of practical jokes. Those
jokes sometimes go a little too far and the recipients get their own revenge in
the form of a lawsuit or in even worse instances for the prankster, law
enforcement gets involved.
Take, for example, this
employee from Louisiana who swapped the chair of his co-worker on April
Fools’ Day and ended up going to court along with his employer. There was also this April Fools’ prank by a
San Francisco newspaper parodying itself and “lampooning various issues,
public officials and private parties” in its March 27th issue which
led to claims of libel, invasion of privacy, false light and infliction of
Other April Fools’ Day pranks that went a little too far
Defendant who staged an armed robbery with a toy gun, threatened to kill the
cashier for seeing his face, then declared the whole robbery to be an April
Fools’ joke and returned the money. Similarly, here’s this
bar applicant who was denied admission to the New Hampshire Bar in part
because of a “reckless conduct conviction stemming from an incident on April
Fools' Day,” during which the applicant pretended to be a robber at a store.
motorist also didn’t find the prank very funny when he seriously injured a motorcyclist
attempting to respond to a staged cry for help from his wife and friend. The motorist
blamed the incident on the practical joke and the seriously injured motorcyclist
roped amended his complaint accordingly. There was also this April Fools’ 'temporary'
larceny that led to a bad conduct discharge and confinement at hard labor.
And this is just scratching the surface of April Fools’ Day
related litigation! If you’re looking for more, try searching your favorite
legal database for April Fools’ Day pranks gone wrong. Remember to try
different spellings for April Fools’ Day in your search terms, such as April
Fools’ versus April Fool’s or try using a root expander to cover your bases. Brainstorm
potential synonyms for ‘prank’ or try adding in search terms related to your
favorite pranks (or least favorite) and let us know what comes up! Email the reference desk or by chat with us at https://library.law.unc.edu (Click
“Questions”) – Monday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm.
Posted by Kerri-Ann Yanique Rowe on Mon. March 29, 2021 10:00 AM