This years Stella Awards

#1
These people, and those on the corresponding juries, should not be allowed to breed!!!

It's time once again to review the winners of the Annual "Stella Awards." The Stella Awards are named after 81 year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's (in NM). That case inspired the Stella awards for the most frivolous, ridiculous, successful lawsuits in the United States.

Here are this year's winners:


5th Place (tie): 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 owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving little toddler was Ms. Robertson's son.



5th Place (tie): 19-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 (tie):

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, and 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 homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of $500,000.

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 owner's fenced yard. The award was less than sought because the jury felt 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 (tailbone). 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:

This year's run away winner was Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mrs. Grazinski purchased a brand 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 drivers seat to go into the back & 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 this. The jury awarded her $$1,750,000 plus a new motor home. The company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit, just in case there were any other complete morons around.
 
#2
Urban legend I'm afraid ...... Pity as its bloody funny!

Also worth reading to find the true facts about the original Stella Liebeck v MacDonalds case.

* During discovery, McDonald's produced documents showing more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee between 1982 and 1992. Some claims involved third-degree burns substantially similar to Liebeck's. This history documented McDonald's knowledge about the extent and nature of this hazard.
* McDonald's also said during discovery that, based on a consultant's advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste.
o Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures than at McDonald's.
o Coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.

Damaging Testimony

* McDonald's own quality assurance manager testified that a burn hazard exists with any food substance served at 140 degrees or above and that McDonald's coffee was not fit for consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat.
* The quality assurance manager further testified that the company actively enforces a requirement that coffee be held in the pot at 185 degrees, plus or minus five degrees. He also testified that while burns would occur, McDonald's had no intention of reducing the "holding temperature" of its coffee.
* Plaintiff's expert, a scholar in thermodynamics as applied to human skin burns, testified that liquids at 180 degrees will cause a full thickness burn to human skin in two to seven seconds.
I remember reading this story in the papers the first time round and don't recall any of the above being mentioned. Maybe the law isn't such an ARRSE after all...
 
#3
British libel cases are probably our best equivalent to lunatic American tort cases in the style of the above. May I recommend this book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0751529931/?tag=armrumser-21 - 'Reputations Under Fire: Winners and Losers in the Libel Business' by David Hooper. It tells the stories of libel cases brought by Jonathan Aitken, Neil Hamilton, Mohamed Fayed, and Robert Maxwell, amongst others, showing what a disaster area libel law can be for plaintiffs. An excellent read.
 

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