Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The 2007 Stella Awards

Update: Please read the comments attached to this, especially from my favourite lawyer in the Emerald City!!

I received this from a friend:

It's time again for the annual Stella Awards! For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck, who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's in NM where she purchased the coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right?

That's right! These are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head. So keep your head scratcher handy. Here are the Stella's for 2007:


Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by
the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.


Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California, won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he
was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.


Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to
open. Worse, he couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. He was forced to sit for eight days with only a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food and
he sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental Anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish. We should all have this kind of anguish.


Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella's when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.


A jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. Whatever happened to people being responsible for their own actions?


Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, sued the owner of a nightclub in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies' room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the nightclub had to pay her $12,000, oh, yeah, plus dental expenses.


This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her - wait for it - $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs.
Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.


Raven said...

You are perpetuating urban legends to help someone's book sales...

And frankly, these are all a billion times worse than the "hot coffee" lawsuit anyway. Time to rename the awards.

johnschochet said...

The coffee lawsuit is true; the other's aren't:
And the coffee lawsuit actually had merit, as described in the link. McDonald's made their coffee way too hot (hotter than normal coffee), and it severely burned the plaintiff. If the coffee had been normal hot coffee temperature, that would have been one thing, but not the case here.

nachtwache said...

Urban legend or not, always good for a laugh. I loooove the Darwin awards, although the winners are reportedly no longer with us.