The “Stella Awards” are named after the 81-year-old woman, Stella Liebeck, who spilled hot coffee on herself and success-fully sued McDonald’s in New Mexico for 2.9 million dollars. Ever since, the name “Stella Award” has been applied to any wild, outrageous, or ridiculous lawsuits – including bogus cases! Here are this year’s winners…
- 7th Place - Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle when she tripped over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering that the misbehaving little toddler was Ms. Robertson’s son.
- 6th Place - Nineteen-year- old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently didn’t notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps.
- 5th Place - Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldn’t re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation, so Mr. Dickson found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food. He sued the home owners’ insurance company, claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of $500,000. In my opinion, this is SO outrageous that it should have been 2nd Place.
- 4th Place - Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next-door neighbor’s beagle. The beagle was on a chain in its owners’ fenced yard. The award was less than originally sought, because the jury felt that the dog might have been just a little provoked at the time by Mr. Williams who had climbed over the fence into the yard and was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.
- 3rd Place - A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her coccyx (tail bone). The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
- 2nd Place - Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a night club in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies’ room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.
- 1st Place (drum roll, please) - This year’s runaway winner was Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mrs. Grazinski purchased a brand-new, 32-foot-long 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 into the back to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the RV left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mrs.Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising her in the owner’s manual that she couldn’t actually do that. The jury awarded her $1,750,000 plus a new motor home. The company actually changed its manuals on the basis of this law suit, just in case there were any other complete morons around.