For those unfamiliar with the Stella Awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck, who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's in New Mexico where she purchased the coffee. Sure, you remember -- she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would have ever thought you could get burned doing that, right?
That's right--these are the awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S . You know--the kind of cases that make you scratch your head--keep that head scratcher handy . . . Here are the Stella's for 2007:
Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas--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--$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 the hubcaps off of it. .
Go ahead, grab that head scratcher
Terrence Dickson, Bristol, Pennsylvania--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. Forced to sit for eight, count 'em, EIGHT, days on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, 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. .
Keep scratching, there's more
Jerry Williams, Little Rock, Arkansas -- 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! Ok, well Williams didn't get as much as he asked for because the
jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite since Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun. Ya think??????
Scratch, scratch. Scratch . . .
Amber Carson Lancaster, Pennsylvania --$113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. Why, you ask was 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?
Scratch, scratch, scratch - hang in there-only two more Stellas to go . .
Kara Walton, Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club 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 night club had to pay her $12,000, PLUS all of her dental expenses. Go figure . .
1st Place :
(I need some fanfare here please)
<>This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was Mrs. Merv Grazinski, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma , who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven onto 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. A jury awarded her, (YOU NEED TO SIT DOWN FIRST), $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 buy a motor home. . .