The Power of Symbolic Lawsuits: Understanding the Significance of $1 Claims

In the world of lawsuits and legal battles, it may seem puzzling when individuals file lawsuits seeking damages of just $1. While it may appear to be an insignificant amount, there are various reasons why people choose to pursue such cases. This article delves into the motivations behind these seemingly peculiar lawsuits and sheds light on the potential benefits and implications involved.

Symbolic Value

In some instances, filing a lawsuit for a nominal amount, such as $1, is done to make a statement or send a symbolic message. By pursuing legal action, individuals may seek to draw attention to an issue or raise awareness about a cause they deeply care about. They recognize that the value lies not in the monetary compensation but in the public spotlight the case may generate.

Principle and Accountability

Suing for $1 can also be a way to hold someone accountable for their actions. It is a method to demonstrate that the plaintiff believes they have been wronged and aims to ensure that the responsible party faces legal consequences. It is not uncommon for plaintiffs to be more focused on the acknowledgment of wrongdoing rather than the financial outcome.

Access to Legal Processes

The legal system can be complex and costly, making it difficult for many individuals to afford pursuing a lawsuit. By seeking only $1 in damages, plaintiffs can navigate the legal process without incurring excessive expenses. This approach allows those who may not have the financial means to seek justice or redress to access the court system and address their concerns effectively.

Setting Legal Precedence

Some lawsuits filed for $1 aim to establish or challenge legal precedents. These cases often involve matters of constitutional rights, civil liberties, or public policy. By bringing these issues before a court, plaintiffs and their legal representatives may hope to secure a ruling that can have broader implications for society, even if the monetary outcome is negligible.

Punitive Damages and Legal Costs

In certain jurisdictions, nominal damages of $1 can serve as a legal mechanism to claim additional damages or recover legal costs. By including a token monetary amount, the plaintiff may become eligible for pursuing punitive damages or recouping attorney fees, which can be substantial. This strategic approach can help level the playing field and ensure that victims of wrongdoing are not burdened with the financial consequences of legal action.

Avoiding Removal or Jurisdictional Challenges

In some situations, lawsuits filed for $1 can be a tactical maneuver to keep the case in a specific jurisdiction or prevent removal to federal courts. By meeting the jurisdictional threshold, plaintiffs can strategically choose the court where they believe they have the best chance of success. This approach allows them to retain control over the legal proceedings and potentially sway the outcome in their favor.


While it may seem peculiar, suing for only $1 can serve as a powerful tool for individuals seeking justice, accountability, or social change. These cases often carry symbolic value, highlight principles, and provide access to the legal system for those who may otherwise be excluded. By examining the underlying motivations, it becomes evident that the value of these lawsuits extends far beyond the monetary aspect, shaping the legal landscape and raising awareness about critical issues in society.

Video Transcript

Why Do Some People Only Sue for a Dollar?

So maybe you have seen this before. Taylor Swift brought a lawsuit where she sued for only a dollar. In another case, Gwyneth Paltrow, sued for only a dollar. Now, she added a request to reimburse her legal fees on top of that as well. But why would people do that? Why does that make any sense? Because if they have a basis to bring a lawsuit, they could probably ask for a lot more than a dollar. A dollar is just so small. It is like, why would you even spend the time and effort bringing a lawsuit? There must be something more happening there.

What is the Legal Strategy?

I think it is quite simply this: these people are trying to demonstrate that they are not money hungry, that they are not trying to bully somebody else. They are simply trying to make a point on principle that they are right and the other side is wrong. And they are asking a court to rule in their favor to send a message to the public. That is why you often see these types of requests by celebrities.

Most average lawsuits and average people do not sue for only a dollar. In my mind, it is a principal position, or it is a public relations type strategy. It is not something that is legally significant except to say, “Hey, I won. I got what I was looking for.” And by the way, when you win, you may have a right to recover your attorney’s fees. So if you set the bar really low, we are asking for a dollar, we got a dollar. Now that we won, you can ask for attorney’s fees sometimes. Why do I say sometimes? Because in the United States, it is called the American rule; the default is you are not entitled to reimbursement of your legal fees if you win. The only times in the United States you are entitled to reimbursement of your legal fees is if a contract or statute or some other law or rule permits you to. So the default is you cannot recover your legal fees if you win, but you can recover if a statute or some other law or a contract allows you to do that. So many contracts say the winner has a right to recover attorney’s fees. By the way, you may be able to still recover your court filing fee, perhaps even some of the other fees that you had associated with serving a lawsuit, maybe even experts. But you are not allowed to recover attorney’s fees unless a statute or some other law or rule or a contract allows you to.


So why do people sue for a dollar? It is simply to take a stand on principle or perhaps make a public relations statement that they are right, they have won, but it is not about the money.


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