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Update: Hoax $25M lawsuit vs. Giffords tossed out

A hoax $25 million "emotional distress" lawsuit was filed using the name of the man convicted of attempting to assassinate former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, killing six and wounding the congresswoman and a dozen others. A similar lawsuit, filed using the name of a mass shooter in Michigan, was determined to be a hoax.

The suit filed in federal court against Giffords claimed that she caused the convicted Jan. 8 gunman "emotional distress" and that he was "framed" when he was convicted and sentenced to seven life terms.

Officials confirmed Thursday that the suit was not filed by the mass shooter, and the case was tossed out of court.

The suit was filed pro se, without the assistance of a lawyer, in the name of Jared Lee Loughner, who was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars for the Jan. 8, 2011, attack.

The lawsuit, filed last week, did not follow the proper form and was stamped that it is "subject to rejection by this court" by U.S. District Court staff. Although the document bears a return address for Loughner at a federal prison hospital in Rochester, Minn., it was postmarked in Philadelphia, as TucsonSentinel.com reported in our original story on the filing.

The gunman's attorney's notified the court Thursday that he had not filed the suit, court papers showed.

The lawsuit was similar to a number of other fake filings in U.S. District Court in Arizona and elsewhere, Judge Diane Humetewa wrote in dismissing the case.

Filings seeking the release of convicted spies Alrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, along with other documents purporting to be filed in the cases of Jodi Arias, Bernie Madoff, Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden and others, were "similar in appearance and character," she wrote. One case was filed as "Hitler v. Roosevelt," Humetewa wrote.

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The judge forwarded the case to the U.S. Attorney's Office for review, citing an "ongoing abuse of the judicial system."

A similar lawsuit, also bearing a Philadelphia postmark, was filed in the name of a man accused of killing six people in Kalamazoo, Mich., in February. A $10 million suit against Uber by former company driver and alleged gunman Jason Brian Dalton was confirmed to be a fake by authorities there last week.

Handwriting on documents in both suits appears similar.

The filing in U.S. District Court in Arizona claimed that the Jan. 8 gunman is "a victim of project mk-ultra the govt. put a chip in my head to control my mind" (sic) and that "Gabby Giffords is in the Iluminati," among other claims about conspiracies, chemtrails, false-flag attacks and a lack of fruit juice in federal prison.

During his trial, a Bureau of Prisons doctor who treated the gunman testified that Loughner has schizophrenia of undifferentiated type, and suffered from delusions.

It took months to restore Loughner to competency to be tried, as he repeatedly refused to accept medication. A federal judge allowed officials to forcibly medicate him prior to trial.

He pleaded guilty to 19 counts in August 2012, and was sentenced that November to seven consecutive life terms, plus 140 years in prison. The "astronomical" punishment was symbolic of the many victims of the shootings, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said as he imposed the sentence.

Honestly, even before we were aware this was likely a fake, we didn't seek comment from Giffords, as the document speaks for itself.

Arizona hoax case document

Michigan hoax filing

Judge's dismissal of Arizona case

Update: This report was updated Wednesday evening after the Michigan case was brought to our attention, and Thursday when the case was confirmed to be a hoax.

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1 comment on this story

Mar 23, 2016, 4:57 pm
-2 +0

This suit wouldn’t have been filed if Loughner was given the death penalty he so richly deserved.

Just sayin’

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James F. Palka/PlanetaryImages.com

Northwest Fire personnel at the shooting scene, shortly after the most seriously injured victims were taken to the hospital.

The victims

Six were killed and 13 others wounded in the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting (with ages at the time of the incident):


  • Christina-Taylor Green, 9
  • Dorothy Morris, 76
  • John Roll, 63
  • Dorwin Stoddard, 76
  • Phyllis Scheck, 79
  • Gabe Zimmerman, 30


  • Bill Badger, 74
  • Ron Barber, 65
  • Kenneth Dorushka, 63
  • James Fuller, 63
  • Randy Gardner, 60
  • Gabrielle Giffords, 40
  • Susan Hileman, 58
  • George Morris, 76
  • Mary Reed, 52
  • Pamela Simon, 63
  • Mavanell Stoddard, 75
  • James Tucker, 58
  • Kenneth Veeder, 75