Jenster's Musings

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I had planned to post something else today, but I got this email from Jennifer who got it off a message board who got it -- well, I don't know who posted it there. But it was just too priceless to pass up. It's one of those things that make you laugh and infuriates you all at the same time.


Hot dog! 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 the McDonald's in where she purchased the coffee.

That's right. These are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts that happened during 2006. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head. Here are the "Stellas" for the past year:

To kick things off the right way, there was a three-way tie for 5th place.

Kathleen Robertson 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 Ms. Robertson's son.

Also in 5th place is Carl Truman, 19, who 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. Go ahead. Grab your head scratcher.

The last of the 5th place winners was Terrence Dickson, who 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. Forced to subsist for eight -- count 'em, 8! -- 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 are more.

Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the "Stellas" 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. Grrrrr. Scratch, scratch.

3rd place went to Amber Carson because a jury ordered a restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on soft drink and broke her tailbone (coccyx). The reason the soft drink was on the floor? Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. What ever happened to people being responsible for their own actions? Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Hang in there, there are only two more Stellas to go.

2nd place goes to Kara Walton after she sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked 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 and... oh, yeah dental expenses. Go figure.

Finally (may I have a fanfare played on 50 kazoos please) 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, no less - having driven on to the free way, 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.

Don't look so incredulous. Remember, we're talking about Oklahoma here. 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 jury awarded her -- you are sitting down, right? -- $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.


In the comments you'll see that Jennifer let me know these lawsuits - or at least the results - are fake. WHEW!! Though I have to say, I worked in insurance defense several years ago and you may be amazed at the ridiculous lawsuits. We represented Safeway grocery stores in Southern California and some of the suits people brought against Safeway were absolutely hysterical. Hm... I just thought of another post...

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Mused by Jenster :: 10:44 AM :: 6 People musing:

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