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There are a number of questions asked on this site along the lines of "Can I be sued for ...?" or "Can I be prosecuted for ...?"

My instinctive and admittedly bloody-minded reaction is to write something like:

Of course you can! One of the beautiful things of living under the rule of law is that anyone can sue anyone at any time for any reason. Perhaps you are asking about their prospects of success?

I'm looking for thoughts on more constructive and less patronising ways of handling this.

Please note: To date I have been able to control my instincts :)

  • "Beautiful?" Personally, I think that part warrants a bit more obvious sarcasm (at least I hope it was sarcasm), but otherwise that seems like a fair comment to inspire a better edit. – feetwet Aug 4 '15 at 2:42
  • @feetwet No sarcasm intended, I don't like getting sued but I like the freedom of being able to sue you - freedom = beauty or some such philosophical mumbo-jumbo – Dale M Aug 4 '15 at 2:48
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    There's something to be said about reading questions as being: 1) related to the law; and 2) non-trivial. While we could read any question not about legal process/procedure as being non-legal, it's not helpful to the site to do so. Similarly, while we could read any question as is it possible for someone to sue me?, it's more helpful to read it as how likely are they to be successful in suing me? – jimsug Aug 4 '15 at 3:21
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    Yeah, it's clear that a useful answer would address likelihood of success rather than treat the question as a standing issue. – user248 Aug 4 '15 at 5:19
  • @nomenagentis Standing can actually be quite relevant if the question is "can I be sued by person X?" In that case, the answer may well be "said lawsuit would be immediately dismissed for lack of standing, as only Y can sue." – cpast Aug 6 '15 at 16:39
  • @cpast Yeah, absolutely, there are certain questions where it is clear that standing is an issue. – user248 Aug 6 '15 at 17:05
  • law.stackexchange.com/q/1628/10 is a question I liked whose answers can serve as a general response to the "can I be sued?" fear. – feetwet Aug 15 '15 at 3:42
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I suggest we interpret such questions as "If I do this, and [the entity in question] sues me, will they probably win?" or perhaps "If I do this, and [the entity in question] sues me, does the law say that they should win?"

I think that's what the askers are usually interested in. We can add the disclaimer "Anybody can sue you for any reason. Will they win? Read the rest of my answer for that." to make sure they understand but the answers to such questions should attempt to give the likelihood of the hypothetical plaintiff winning.

For example:

  • Can I be sued for walking across a lawn with a sign "No walking"?
  • Uh, yeah, but whoever sues you will waste a lot of money on a lawsuit that gives them nothing.
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    I think we shouldn't add the disclaimer "anyone can sue you for any reason". It adds to the noise, and unless it's patently clear that they're asking about standing rather than prospects of success, it adds unnecessary noise to the answer. I would say that most, if not all, of the questions so far have been about likelihood of success rather than standing. – jimsug Aug 7 '15 at 23:21

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