07/04/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Hans Gezundheit Sues for Sneezing Royalties


KEMNITZ, Germany - Gerhardt Gezundheit was known throughout his 18th century village as 'The Man Who Cannot Stop Sneezing.' He tried every possible remedy, ancient and modern, but he succeeded only at annoying his fellow villagers with his obnoxiously loud sneezes. Each time he sneezed, whomever was in the vicinity would gaze at him disdainfully and exclaim angrily, "Gezundheit!" He even tried moving to other villages, figuring maybe it was something in the air, but the same pattern repeated everywhere he went. The one good thing that came of Gezundheit's affliction was that his name caught on gradually. Eventually, whenever anyone sneezed throughout Europe and later, America and the world, people would exclaim, "Gezundheit," though it came to take on a more benevolent meaning, along the lines of "God bless you," or "To your health."

Recently, one of Gezundheit's descendents, Hans Gezundheit, decided to cash in on his famous ancestor's legacy. "Actors and writers get royalties for their work when it's repeated," stated Gezundheit. "Why shouldn't there be a financial reward for something that's used every day?" Gezundheit and his attorneys have calculated that the famous expression has been used over 500 million times with no end in sight. "We're suing every country that uses the expression, for a total of $35 million, with the understanding that we'll work out a payment plan for future use." Although many in the legal community consider the lawsuit's success to be a longshot, Gezundheit is undeterred. "I've been in daily touch with an Irish woman, Bonnie Bottomsup, who's descended from Lord Edward Bottomsup. She gets $3 million worth of royalties annually from countries using that toast. So I feel the future looks bright."