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In 1994, a New Mexico jury awarded $ 2.9 million U.S. in damages to
81-year-old Stella Liebeck who suffered third-degree burns to her legs, groin
and buttocks after spilling a cup of McDonald's coffee on herself.
This case inspired an annual award - The "Stella" Award - for
the most frivolous lawsuit in the U.S. The ones you listed below are clear
candidates. All these cases are verging on the outright ridiculous
and yet (in the good old USA) with the right attorney you could win
anything! (see OJ trial)
1. January 2000: Kathleen Robertson of Austin Texas was awarded
$780,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler
who was running amok inside a furniture store. The owners of the store
were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the
misbehaving little prick was Ms. Robertson's son.
2. June 1998: A 19 year old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000
and medical expenses when his neighbour 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 neighbour's hubcaps.
3. October 1998: A 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, because 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. 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. Mr. Dickson sued the
homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish.
The jury agreed to the tune of half a million dollars.
4. October 1999: Jerry Williams of Little Rock Arkansas was awarded
$14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his
next door neighbour's beagle. The beagle was on a chain in it's owner's
fenced-in yard, as was Mr. Williams. The award was less than sought
because the jury felt the dog may have been provoked by Mr. Williams who,
at the time, was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.
5. May 2000: A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber
Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania $113,500 after she slipped on soft drink
and broke her coccyx. The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson
at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
6. December 1997: Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware successfully sued
the owner of a night club in a neighbouring 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.
7. And just so you know that cooler heads do occasionally prevail: Kenmore
Inc., the makers of Dorothy Johnson's microwave, were found not liable for
the death of Mrs. Johnson's poodle after she gave it a bath and attempted
to dry it by putting the poor creature in her microwave for, "just a
few minutes, on low," The case was quickly dismissed.
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