The Virginia Prisoner Who Sued Himself For $5 Million

Grace Higgins | December 1st, 2020

You would have to look hard and long to find a stranger case than the Virginia prisoner Robert L. Brock, who sued himself. In 1995, the prisoner in the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake, Virginia was serving a 23-year sentence for grand larceny. Along with breaking and entering. Of course, prisoners are often in the history books for strange litigious acts. But, Brock has earned himself a special place in the legends of notorious litigation by prisoners.

At the time, Brock was extremely unhappy with the conditions at the Virginia prison. He decided that the way he would leave the prison would be to open a $5 million lawsuit against himself. This way he would spend more time in court than at the prison. His lawsuit claimed he was drunk when committed the crimes, and as a result, violated his religious beliefs. He even went so far as to claim that he violated his own civil rights by getting arrested. But it gets better.

In his handwritten 7 page plea, Brock outlines that he would like to pay himself a 5 million dollar settlement fee. Which he filed in federal court, he stated that he was drunk at the time of his arrest, and that’s why he was seeking damages against himself. However, this is the clever part, Brock argued that given he was under the ward of the state. Virginia state should pay the $5 million on his behalf because he could not work during his time in prison and had no funds. Don’t worry though, he promised to pay the money back once he was out of prison.

As you could imagine, the judge did not find this lawsuit very funny. She did state that though the lawsuit was following an innovative approach, it was completely frivolous. As a result, the judge threw the lawsuit out of the court and said that his demands were ludicrous.

Brock continued his legal attacks, with each plea becoming more and more ludicrous. It seems Brock likes to spend time writing them up. It continued until 1997 when the United States Court of Appeals attempted to impose sanctions upon Brock for time-wasting. Still, his bizarre lawsuit went down in history and reached the Time Magazine’s list of Top 10 Outrageous Legal Battles.

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