If "$2 undecillion" dollars sounds to you like a made-up amount, you're not too far off. Although 2 undecillion is an actual number -- its a 2 followed by 36 zeros -- in dollars it represents more money than exists in the entire world.
Nonetheless, that's the amount that New Yorker Anton Purisima is seeking in damages from an equally astounding number of defendants. Along with the the City of New York, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, and a "'Latina' Dog Owner," Purisima's complaint, filed in New York's Southern District Court, also lists an eye-popping number of unnamed defendants: "Does 1 to 1000," to be precise.
What's Purisima's undecillion-dollar beef, and what are the... shall we say... legal challenges facing Purisima in securing what would potentially be a record-setting damages award?
All the Money in the World... and Then Some
From what can be gathered from Purisima's vigorous, hand-written complaint, he was apparently bitten by a "rabies infested" dog while riding a New York City bus. From there, Purisima lays out an epic and wide-ranging conspiracy allegedly involving bus authorities, health care providers, the bakery chain Au Bon Pain, big-box retailer Kmart, and numerous other parties including up to 1,000 "Doe" defendants (aka unknown conspirators).
According to the complaint, the damages resulting from the dog bite and the ensuing conspiracy are "priceless." However, priceless typically won't get you into court, so instead the complaint settles for the next best thing: $2 undecillion (yes, that's $2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) in addition to punitive damages, costs and "such other relief as the court deems proper."
Not wanting to seem too greedy though, the plaintiff pledges in the complaint to donate 45 percent of his award to the U.S. military for research and to "protect the fundamental rights of all Americans."
Damages... 'Til the End of Time
The website What If? has a great breakdown of exactly how immense the damages in Mr. Purisima's complaint are. According to their numbers, the total value of the goods and services produced by humanity since the dawn of man is around $2.4 quadrillion ($2,400,000,000,000,000).
Using this estimate, the total value of the goods and services produced by humanity from now until the end of the Stelliferous Era (the time when scientists believe the stars in the universe will begin to burn out) will still not be enough to satisfy the damages sought by Mr. Purisma. Now that's some serious damage.
Though there are a wide variety of factors used to calculate damages in a personal injury case, a court is unlikely to grant you damages in a number they have to look up to make sure is for real. Not saying it's impossible. Just unlikely.
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