Saturday, September 5, 2009
The Stella Awards
Stella AwardsIt's time again for the annual 'Stella Awards'! For those unfamiliarwith these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck whospilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald's inNew Mexico, where she purchased coffee. You remember, she took the lidoff the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Whowould ever think one could get burned doing that, right? That's right;these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in theU.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head. Sokeep your head scratcher handy.Here are the Stella's for the past year:* SEVENTH PLACE *Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury ofher peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who wasrunning inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandablysurprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her ownson.Start scratching!* SIXTH PLACE *Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles , California won $74,000 plus medicalexpenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord.Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of thecar when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.Scratch some more....* FIFTH PLACE *Terrence Dickson, of Bristol , Pennsylvania , who was leaving a househe had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately forDickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he couldnot get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn't re-enter the housebecause the door connecting the garage to the house locked whenDickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count 'em, EIGHT daysand survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, hesued 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...Double hand scratching after this one..* FOURTH PLACE *Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in theStella's when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after beingbitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even thoughthe beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. Williams did notget as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle mighthave been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams hadclimbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog witha pellet gun.Pick a new spot to scratch, you're getting a bald spot..* THIRD PLACE *Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because a jury ordered aPhiladelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on aspilled soft drink and broke her tail bone. The reason the soft drinkwas on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 secondsearlier during an argument. What ever happened to people beingresponsible for their own actions?Only two more so ease up on the scratching....*SECOND PLACE*Kara Walton, of Claymont , Delaware sued the owner of a night club ina nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor,knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying tosneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 covercharge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000....oh,yeah, plus dental expenses. Go figure.Ok. Here we go!!* FIRST PLACE *This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. MervGrazinski, of Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , who purchased new 32-footWinnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU footballgame, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of theWinnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor homeleft the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs.Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual thatshe couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise controlwas set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down?$1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed theirmanuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has anyrelatives who might also buy a motor home.