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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man sues book over most-litigious crown

Federal inmate’s many targets include pirates, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!

Thomas Clouse Staff writer

The “Lawsuit Zeus,” also known as “Johnny Sue-nami,” filed a lawsuit this week in federal court seeking an injunction to stop the Guinness Book of World Records from naming him as the person who has filed the most lawsuits in the history of mankind.

Jonathan Lee Riches, aka Irving Picard, filed his latest legal fight this week in the Richland office of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, although he is incarcerated in the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Ky.

Riches alleges that Guinness is planning to print false information about the number of lawsuits he has filed, which he says is more than 4,000 worldwide. And he objects to the names Guinness intends to call him, including: “The litigator crusader,” the “duke of lawsuits,” “Johnny Sue-nami,” “Sue-per-man” and the “Patrick Ewing of suing.”

“I’ve filed so many lawsuits with my pen and right hand that I got arthritis in my fingers, numbness in my wrists, crooked fingers,” he wrote – by hand – in the latest filing. “I flush out more lawsuits than a sewer.”

A local federal official, who asked not to be identified, said Riches may be the most litigious person in America.

Riches previously filed a suit in this district against the Peanut Corp. of America, claiming that federal officials fed him salmonella-tainted peanut butter.

Senior Judge Justin Quackenbush entered an order dismissing that case Feb. 23 and warned Riches that he may be barred from filing any more lawsuits in this district.

“Then he files this … again before Quackenbush,” the federal source said. “I think the local connection is that he has been banned from filing suits in so many other courts. But he has a friend in Judge Quackenbush, who at least has written him back.”

In the injunction filed in Richland, Riches – who acknowledges he is receiving treatment for mental-health problems – said: “The Guinness Book of World Records have no right to publish my work, my legal masterpieces.”

Those include lawsuits against New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, former President George W. Bush, Somali pirates, Britney Spears and Martha Stewart, according to a Wikipedia page dedicated to Riches’ litigious exploits.

He’s also filed lawsuits against Plato, Nostradamus, James Hoffa, “Various Buddhist Monks,” the Lincoln Memorial, the Eiffel Tower and Three Mile Island.

In his latest court filing, Riches wrote about how he sued Black History Month, the president of Iran and butter substitute I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!

“When I get out of prison, I’m going to start a Lawsuit 101 shop and teach Americans how to file pro se lawsuits,” meaning lawsuits filed without an attorney, said Riches, who may be released from federal custody in 2012.

“I will sell Jonathan Lee Riches T-shirts (saying), ‘Watch what you do, or I’ll sue you.’ ”

Contact Thomas Clouse at (509)459-5495 or