Lawsuits seeking to recover large amounts of money are commonplace. But how about a claim that seeks to recover more money than exists in the entire world?
According to a September 24, 2009 order (here) by Southern District of New York Judge Denny Chin, the complaint of plaintiff Dalton Chiscolm, Jr. against the Bank of America seeks to recover "1,784 billion trillion dollars," to be deposited in his ATM account "the next day." Oh, and in addition, another $200,164.
Judge Chin states that in Chiscolm’s complaint (which Chin describes as "incomprehensible"), the plaintiff "seems to be complaining" that his checks apparently have been rejected because of incomplete routing numbers and when he placed a series of calls to the bank he "received inconsistent information from ‘a Spanish wom[a]n.’"
Judge Chin’s September 24 Order directs Chiscolm to show cause in writing by October 23, 2009 the basis on which his claim, which purported to be filed in reliance on federal question jurisdiction, is brought in federal court, or the complaint will be dismissed. As of October 25, 2009, PACER did not show that any statement had been filed.
The astonishing quantum of damages sought is more than just a random large number. As it turns out, 1,784 billion trillion – equal to 1.784 multiplied by 10 to the twenty-fourth power, or 1,784 followed by 21 zeroes – corresponds to a value in the International System of Units known as a "Yotta." According to Wikipedia (here), Yotta currently is the largest unit in the system of measurement. In other words, the plaintiff is literally seeking to recover the largest describable number of dollars.
An October 23, 2009 BBC News article (here) about Chiscolm’s lawsuit quotes Kevin Houston, a University of Leeds mathematics professor, as saying that "the guy wants more money than there is in the entire world."
Well, yeah, but the customer service really was terrible.
Judge Chin, who recently was nominated to the Second Circuit, of course is the judge that sentenced Bernard Madoff to 150 years of imprisonment, and so Chin knows a thing or two about large amounts of damages, but the amount of damages that Chiscolm has claimed even managed to get Judge Chin’s attention.