It's once again time to review the winners of the annual Stella Awards. The Stella's are named after 81 year old Stella Liebeck who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's. That case inspired the 'Stella Awards' for the most frivolous successful lawsuits in the United States.
5th Place (Tied): 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 inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving toddler was Ms. Robertson's son.
5th Place (Tied): 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 did not notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal the hubcaps.
5th Place (Tied): 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 could not 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 8 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 dog. 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 a little provoked at the time as Mr. Williams, who had climbed over the fence into the yard, 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 sued the owner of a Night Club in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out two of her front teeth. This occurred whilst Ms. Walton was trying to sneak in the window of the Ladies Room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses..
This year's runaway winner was Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand new Winnebago Motor home. On his trip home from an OU football game, having driven onto the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly the RV left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising him in the owner's manual that he could not actually do this. The jury awarded him $1,750,000 plus a new Winnebago Motor home. The company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit just in case there were any other complete morons buying their recreational vehicles
Edit 2/15/2005: Note, these are not real awards – but they are fun just the same 🙂