Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff (1971 case)

Below is an article taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. In summary, this is a case where a prisoner sues Satan for damages for causing the former misery and deprivation of constitutional rights. The case was dismissed for the following reasons:

[1] Failure to allege defendant's address;
[2] Failure to serve summons on the person of the defendant;
[3] Possibility of Satan invoking immunity from suit, being a foreign prince; and
[4] Failure to comply with class suit requirements.

United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D.Pa. 1971), was a federal court case in which a prisoner filed a lawsuit against Satan and his servants in United States District Court. It was dismissed on procedural grounds.

Gerald Mayo, a 22 year old inmate at Western Penitentiary in Pittsburgh, filed a claim before the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in which 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" and had therefore "deprived him of his constitutional rights," allegedly prohibited under several sections of the United States Code.

Mayo filed in forma pauperis - that is, he asserted that he would not be able to afford the costs associated with his lawsuit and that they therefore should be waived. Mayo filed a law suit against Satan and his minions, not the prison system. Mayo filed suit against external forces that the prison had no control over. In his decision, U.S. District Court Judge Gerald J. Weber first noted that the jurisdictional situation was unclear. While no previous cases had been brought by or against Satan and so no official precedent existed, there was an "unofficial account of a trial in New Hampshire where this defendant filed an action of mortgage foreclosure as plaintiff", a reference to the short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster".

Judge Weber suggested that the Devil (who had claimed in that story to be an American), should he appear, might have been therefore estopped from arguing a lack of personal jurisdiction. In this context, the Court noted that Satan was a foreign prince, but did not have occasion to address whether, if sued as a defendant, he would be able to claim sovereign immunity from suit. Judge Weber noted that three of the four requirements for a class action suit were met. However, class action status was not granted because the judge was unable to determine whether Mayo would adequately represent the class (the adequacy element).

Finally, the judge noted that Mayo had failed to provide directions to the United States Marshals Service as to service of process.

Citing the foregoing reasons, the court refused the request to proceed in forma pauperis.

The Court doubted the need for action due to the complaint containing no allegation of residence in plaintiff.

SOURCE: United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Photo source: