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An Incomplete Primer of Caselaw Appertaining To Bigfoot, AKA Sasquatch, LNU

With Comments On Anticipated Litigation And Mistaken Identification

I was preparing to revive an ancient Popehat post concerning a defamation lawsuit among Bigfoot hunters when I was quite transfixed by a thought: is litigation concerning Bigfoot common? By not only posting about a Bigfoot-related defamation case, but re-running it, am I giving my readers a false impression of the frequency of such cases? Or, to the contrary, am I giving a false impression by not posting enough about Bigfoot? Am I a willful suppressor of legal Bigfoot news?

My reputation as a law pundit at stake, I researched the matter. I present to you my conclusions.


The most difficult element of Bigfoot legal research is that most cases that mention Bigfoot only involve the misappropriation of his name for commercial purposes. The dusty pages of American common law are thick with tire stores, truck stops, equity funds, and the occasional strip club using the name. But when they come to court, they do so over petty concerns like trademark, wrongful termination, bad Yelp reviews, and so forth.

It takes a careful eye and steady hand to separate out the authority that is actually about Bigfoot qua Bigfoot. But patience is rewarded with verifiable sightings.

The subject of my original post was John Johnsen v. Matthew Moneymaker, Loren Coleman, and Cryptomundo, Inc., Case No. 512011CA-5176ES (6th Judicial Circuit, Pasco County, Florida). Defamation was the case. Johnsen claims that Moneymaker conducted cryptozoological research expeditions seeking Bigfoot in the Ocala National Forrest, that Johnsen joined such an expedition in February 2005, and that in June 2011 Moneymaker published a post on Cryptomundo’s site falsely accusing Johnsen of being mentally ill and of carrying firearms into the Ocala National Forrest during the expedition. Specifically, Johnsen claimed that Moneymaker and Cryptomundo said that Johnson was “not in the same reality as the rest of us,” that is, not in the same reality as the other persons on an expedition to find Bigfoot in Florida. The case presents fascinating issues of the distinction between provably false statements of fact susceptible to defamation analysis versus hyperbole, rhetoric, and opinion. Mr. Moneymaker later figures in another case on this list. Mr. Johnsen produced “Hunt the Dogman,” which Reddit informs me is the “best documentary out there on Dogmen.”

Claudia Ackley v. State of California et al., CIVDS1801387 (San Bernardino County Superior Court) is both the most notorious and most disappointing recent litigation concerning Bigfoot. Ms. Ackley, who firmly believed she saw Bigfoot on a hike, sued the State of California and various agencies thereof, seeking a writ of mandate compelling California authorities to abide with the rule of law in connection with Bigfoot: for instance, by monitoring Bigfoot’s well-being under Fish and Wildlife Code section 1008, which obligates the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to “investigate all diseases of, and problems related to, birds, mammals, or fish, and establish and maintain laboratories to assist in such investigation.” However, Ms. Ackley dismissed her lawsuit before it could establish useful precedent, and through she promised to refile it, she regrettably passed away before she could, reputedly of hypertension.

In Todd Standing v. Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources and Rural Development (Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of British Columbia), 2018 BCSC 1499, the plaintiff was similarly disappointed. Mr. Standing, a Bigfoot researcher, brought suit seeking a declaration that Bigfoot was real (either Giganto Horridus Hominoid and/or Gigantopithecus) and that the government had committed a dereliction of duty in failing to recognize Bigfoot and had infringed Mr. Standings’ right to freedom of belief, opinion, and expression by failing to recognize Bigfoot officially. I am an American lawyer, and unreliable on the structure and traditions of Canadian government, but it seems to me that technically speaking Todd Standing sued Queen Elizabeth II to establish that Bigfoot is real. The Supreme Court of Columbia found that the government’s failure to believe in Bigfoot did not impede Mr. Standing’s right to believe in Bigfoot and ordered him to pay the government’s costs. Thus ever are freethinkers treated.

Newgrowth Capital Corp. v. Craig Woolheater and Cryptomundo, LLC, No. 07-V-0307-L (N.D. TX 2007) concerns the “Kentucky Clip,” videotape of Bigfoot taken in Kentucky in late July 2005, possibly without his consent. Matt Moneymaker — yes, the same one — sold the Kentucky Clip for $20,000 to the Bigfoot Researchers Field Association. BRFA asserted in the lawsuit that the defendant obtained access to the Kentucky Clip without signing the nondisclosure agreement Bigfoot researchers were required to sign to access it and that BRFA was afraid that he would use it to compete with BRFA through the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy, a Texas Domestic Non-Profit Corporation. The case was transferred to United States District Court for the Central District of California, where the plaintiff had already filed a similar suit, where it was dismissed. As is often the case, hopes of fame in Los Angeles were dashed.

Dahinden v. Byrne, No. 79-968, 1982 WL 1162, at *1 (D. Or. Apr. 14, 1982), on reconsideration, No. 79-968, 1982 WL 63775 (D. Or. June 21, 1982), concerned a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by the author of Sasquatch, a work analyzing reports by Russian scientists who, in turn, analyzed the famous “Patterson film.” Since the parts of the work alleged to be infringed were, themselves, materials from other sources like the Patterson film and the Russian reports, the matter was dismissed.

W. Commc'n Corp. v. Barnick, No. 18-CV-10437, 2018 WL 2717781, at *3 (E.D. Mich. June 6, 2018), is about a commercial dispute unrelated to Bigfoot — or is it? The plaintiff included allegations that one of the defendants’ Chief Executive Officers was an “incompetent, crooked, religious fanatic” and “a crazy recreational bigfoot hunter.” The United District Judge granted a motion striking these allegations as impertinent and irrelevant to the commercial disputes at issue. This further emphasizes the duality in American law between Bigfoot and commerce.

In Doyle v. Comm'r, New Hampshire Dep't of Res. & Econ. Dev., 163 N.H. 215, 219, 37 A.3d 343, 346 (2012), the court agreed that the First Amendment protected Mr. Doyle’s right to dress as Bigfoot, or Yoda, or a pirate, for performance art purposes at Monadnock State Park notwithstanding regulations purporting to forbid such activities in the absence of a permit. The performance art had resulted in local reports of Bigfoot sightings, though not Yoda or pirate sightings. Before you ask, no, he was not dressing as Chewbacca — I checked.

State v. McNearney, 193 Wash. App. 136, 144, 373 P.3d 265, 270 (2016), rejected a defendant’s attack on a prosecutor’s closing argument, which featured Bigfoot. The prosecutor, in the course of refuting the defendant’s alternative theory of the case, suggested that if your child claims that they did not eat the brownies, but Bigfoot did, evidence is not required to refute the suggestion. This did not, the appellate court found, impermissibly reduce the government’s burden of proof.

Disability Rts. S.C. v. McMaster, 24 F.4th 893, 908 (4th Cir. 2022) featured Bigfoot as a figure of philosophical analysis. The dissent, rejecting the logic of the majority, intoned “Choosing not to reject the possibility of a proposition is not the same thing as accepting that proposition. For example, not rejecting the possibility that Bigfoot might exist surely does not mean accepting that Bigfoot does exist.” Bigfoot did not meaningfully contribute to the debate.

Farrell v. Burke, 449 F.3d 470, 478 (2d Cir. 2006) involved a parolee’s First Amendment challenge to his parole officer’s restrictions on his possession of pornography, including “My Comrade.” The parolee argued that My Comrade was more satirical than pornographic: “it appears intended more to amuse than to arouse. It contains a few depictions of nude men, but they are usually in a satirical context, as with the drawing of a furry (but obviously male) naked creature accompanying the article entitled “I Had Gay Sex—With Bigfoot!” I doubt that Western social norms and sexual mores can be easily imposed upon Bigfoot.

Malone v. Royal, No. CIV-13-1115-D, 2016 WL 6956646, at *8 (W.D. Okla. Nov. 28, 2016), aff'd sub nom. Malone v. Carpenter, 911 F.3d 1022 (10th Cir. 2018) is a habeas corpus action involving a defendant who blamed some of his actions on methamphetamine use, saying that methamphetamine made him moody and paranoid and that he would hear people in the attic and that he “saw Bigfoot” while was out cooking on the lake. As a result of grammatical ambiguity it is not clear whether it was Malone or Bigfoot who was cooking on the lake. Is there analytical literature about whether Bigfoot uses fire? Of course there is.  


As an undernourished black bear or stray Unix coder may be mistaken for Bigfoot, so may many cases easily be mistaken as being about him. Careful forensic case analysis is necessary.

For instance, in State v. Orr, 3 Wash. App. 2d 1039 (2018), aff'd sub nom. State v. Moretti, 193 Wash. 2d 809, 446 P.3d 609 (2019), Mr. Orr was convicted of breaking into an occupied house in northwest Spokane while armed with a metal pipe and then attempting to fight his way off the property, motivated by a rumor that Sasquatch was obtaining sexual favors from Mr. Orr’s girlfriend in exchange for drugs at that residence and also holding children against their will. This was a misidentification. “Sasquatch” was merely an alias for someone who was not Bigfoot at all. There is no reliable evidence that Bigfoot is a sex trafficker or drug user.


There are times when Bigfoot has not yet generated litigation, a researcher familiar with the highly litigious character of the American public, and to some extent with Bigfoot, can reasonably anticipate it is likely to occur.

For instance, in Flathead County, Montana, a man dressed as Bigfoot was struck by cars — one driven by a 15-year-old, one by a 17-year-old — and tragically died. Although it would seem that the statute of limitations has long passed, my experience of American law will not admit the possibility that litigation will not ensue.

Or take Leslie Cockburn, a Congressional candidate in Virginia, who accused her opponent Denver Riggleman of producing Bigfoot erotica. Bigfoot sexuality is beautiful and natural and I support it, though I would prefer it not be associated in my mind with Republican members of Congress. Riggleman did not sue; he won the election, became a Member of Congress, and went on to write Bigfoot . . . It’s Complicated, which despite my first impression is not a book about relationships but about his status as a “Bigfoot Scholar.” Though Riggleman has not yet sued, performative and fundraising defamation suits have become extremely common among Republican politicians. I hope that Riggleman will not risk his reputation as one of the most respected Republican members of Congress with a futile suit.

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