The premise of the movie "The man who sued God" is that a person who lost his boat in a lightning storm. His boat insurer then decided it was an act of God and did not cover it

He heard the term "act of God" and decided to sue the Catholic church because apparently they act as agents for this God fellow?

Would such a case be considered frivolous in the US or could it have some unlikely legs?

  • 2
    Maybe voters should just give me a chance to complete my edits before down voting.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jun 2, 2022 at 16:54
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    Surprisingly, there is precedent for this: Chambers v. God, filed in the state of Nebraska in 2007. You can read the complaint here if you're interested. It appears that the lawsuit was eventually dismissed, but the reasoning on the Wikipedia article is unclear and I haven't been able to easily find the original texts of the decisions. That said, Chambers appears to have sued God personally rather than his agents, as was the case in the movie. Jun 2, 2022 at 17:28
  • In the case of multiple agents (Catholic, Southern Baptist, United Methodist, etc) how do you decide which agent to serve?
    – doneal24
    Jun 2, 2022 at 17:29
  • If you are in India polytheism further complicates the issue of who is the real agent, ha
    – Neil Meyer
    Jun 2, 2022 at 17:31
  • My favorite story in Herodotus' Histories is the town that declared war on the nearby desert for inundating them with a sand storm.
    – Lee Mosher
    Jun 2, 2022 at 20:01

1 Answer 1


United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D.Pa. 1971), was dismissed because the petitioner failed to provide directions on how to serve Satan, and because of doubt about the court's jurisdiction over Satan.

According to the Wikipedia article on Chambers v God:

The lawsuit was dismissed in October 2008 because a summons notifying God of the lawsuit could not be delivered to the defendant, who has no listed address.

Similar problems would probably prevent any future lawsuit against God or Satan from proceeding to a trial. The suggested suit also misunderstands the technical nature of the term "act of God", at least in modern use.

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    You should always serve satan a bloody hail mary. Shaken not stirred. But only if he asks for one in hells kitchen.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jun 2, 2022 at 18:14
  • +1. Suits against God, Satan, etc., are less uncommon than people might think, and this is how they usually end up being disposed of. However, I'd note that it seems these procedural niceties may not actually be proper grounds to dismiss. Assuming the complaint alleges a god consistent with Judeo-Christian theology, his omnipotence/omnipresence should mean that his actions/nonactions meet the minimum-contact threshold. And even though he has no fixed address, service could likely be effected through an agent or through publication.
    – bdb484
    Jun 2, 2022 at 23:41
  • To my mind, the better arguments might be that God has sovereign immunity or that he has no duty of ordinary care or whatever that could have been breached.
    – bdb484
    Jun 2, 2022 at 23:41
  • When you cannot properly serve, it will often suffice to publish notice of the lawsuit in "the" newspaper in town that is the recognized place for legal notices. Satan reads that. I suspect it was more that the court would prefer Satan not appear in court. Jun 3, 2022 at 3:20
  • @bdb484: To the best of my understanding, actual knowledge of the action is not sufficient grounds to waive service of process. In extraordinary cases, courts have permitted service by publication, but I imagine you'd have a hard time convincing a judge to let you do that against a religious figure. Regardless, God as a defendant is probably immune by some combination of the Establishment Clause and/or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution (i.e. courts are not supposed to be in the business of ruling on religious matters).
    – Kevin
    Jun 4, 2022 at 6:26

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