“Throw him in jail! He won’t give me his animal crackers!”

I pointed to a gray stuffed elephant sitting innocently on a high chair. My 11-year-old brother, who I convinced to be the judge in this scenario, hit the kitchen table with a spoon.

“Order! Order! Mr. Ears, you are guilty of eating Jessie’s cupcake. You must give her all your animal crackers as an apology or you will go to jail.”

I smiled and took my winnings as my parents continued to cook dinner.

And that was the last time I sued someone.

This was a normal activity for my brother and me when we were kids. we saw too much Law in the past and liked to play “Court Time”. He would say that he gave us a distorted view of the world in which people sue each other every second of the day in the blink of an eye.

But unfortunately, that’s pretty close to the truth… at least in the United States.

And that is precisely why I have made it a point to be proactive in protecting my hard-earned wealth. Something I want to highlight today…

Let’s use last year as an example of what I mean. Some of the top frivolous lawsuits of 2016 include:

  1. Two people sued Starbucks in a class action lawsuit alleging too much steamed milk. Another customer sued for too much ice.
  2. A woman sued beauty company Fresh Incorporated because she thought there was more Sugar Lip Treatment lip balm at the bottom of an empty tube. (I’m scratching my head over that too.)
  3. Another woman won $161,000 after crashing into a ladder while texting, causing her phone to hit her face.
  4. PETA sued a photographer, claiming that Naruto, a monkey who took a selfie, owns the copyright to the photo. This case actually started in 2015 and was only settled in September 2017. In the end, the photographer agreed to donate 25% of his future earnings from the image to protect Naruto. It’s unclear who had to pay the $261,200 in legal costs that left the photographer broke.
  5. Finally, a MasterCard cardholder sued the company for raising more than $30 million for cancer research when the original goal was just $4 million. Yes, the company was sued for raising too much money for a good cause.

At this point, you could probably sue a stuffed elephant in real court.

But is it really surprising? As of 2014, 1.2 million attorneys reside in the US, representing more than 70% of the world’s attorneys. That’s an increase of more than 100% from the 1980 total of 574,810.

That spectacular growth demonstrates how much American society relies on lawyers to solve problems of any kind.

And it has made us an incredibly litigious society.

Last year, about 15 million lawsuits were filed in the United States. That’s a new demand every two seconds. In September 2016, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America found that the annual cost to the US economy of civil lawsuits was $239 billion.

And the estimated annual cost to each citizen for these suits is $812.

As people committed to growing and protecting our heritage, I think it’s critical that we understand the potential issues here.

People like to sue. And if you’ve built up a nice store of wealth, you’re particularly vulnerable. So I urge you to start protecting yourself. And the first step is to investigate how you can protect your life before the lawyers.