Want to Sue the Devil? Read This First


Since Halloween is a time for the weird and the bizarre, we thought it would be appropriate to detail a case that was filed against Satan himself. The case is Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, filed in 1971 in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Mr. Mayo alleged that “Satan has on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery and unwarranted threats, against the will of plaintiff, that Satan has placed deliberate obstacles in his path and has caused plaintiff’s downfall.” Mr. Mayo claimed that his constitutional rights have been violated by these acts of Satan. Unfortunately for Mr. Mayo the case was dismissed on procedural grounds.

First, the court had “serious doubts that the complaint revealed a cause of action upon which relief can be granted by the court.”

Second, the court questioned whether the plaintiff may obtain personal jurisdiction on Satan by stating that: “The complaint contains no allegation of residence in this district. While the official reports disclose no case where this defendant has appeared as defendant there is an unofficial account of a trial in New Hampshire where this defendant filed an action of mortgage foreclosure as plaintiff. The defendant in that action was represented by the preeminent advocate of that day, and raised the defense that the plaintiff was a foreign prince with no standing to sue in an American Court.” This is the Court’s reference to a short story by Stephen Vincent Benét titled The Devil and Daniel Webster.

Third, although Mr. Mayo’s request for a class action seemed to meet most of the criteria, the court could not determine if the representative party will fairly protect the interests of the class.

Finally, Mr. Mayo “has failed to include with his complaint the required form of instructions for the United States Marshall for directions as to service of process.” So what’s the moral of the story? If you want to sue Satan, find out where he lives first.

Happy Halloween!!