Taking the Prank Too Far: Researching April Fools' Day Litigation

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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 emotional distress.

Other April Fools’ Day pranks that went a little too far include this 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.

This 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
Categories: Uncategorized


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