Time once again for the annual STELLA AWARDS! You’ll remember Stella: She’s the 81-year old who spilled a cup of hot coffee after removing the plastic top, carefully placing the uncapped cup in her lap, then driving off from Mickey D’s. Amazingly, the cup spilled the boiling beverage onto Ms. Stella’s lower regions.
The aptly-named STELLAS are handed out to honor the most outrageously ridiculous lawsuits that generate the most outrageously ridiculous money damages. Here goes:
In SEVENTH PLACE is Kathleen Robertson, of Austin, Texas. Kathy took home a cool 80 grand after she broke her ankle tripping over a youngster who was running inside a furniture store. What’s outrageous about this, you ask? Well, the kid was Kathy’s own son.
Ranking SIXTH in the 2010 pantheon of winners/losers is Carl Truman, a Los Angeleno. Carl grabbed $74K plus medical expenses when his neighbor drove a Honda Accord over his hand. Why did this unfortunate accident merit a Stella? Our Carl was in the process of stealing the Accord’s hubcaps when the owner tried to drive away.
Terrance Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania captures this year’s FIFTH PLACE. Seems Terry was attempting to leave the house he’d just burglarized. Through the garage. Turns out that the automatic garage door opener didn’t work, and poor Terry had locked himself out of the house. He was able to survive for eight—yep, eight!—days, with only a case of Pepsi and, appropriately, a big bag of dog food. Understandably, the unfortunate Mr. Dickson sued the homeowner’s insurance company, claiming mental anguish. The jury verdict? Half a million bucks!
Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, claims 2010’s FOURTH PLACE slot. Seems Jer got bitten on the butt by his neighbor’s beagle, despite the fact that the pup was chained to a tree in the neighbor’s fenced yard. The jury awarded our guy $14,500 plus medicals, even though Mr. Williams had climbed the fence and repeatedly popped the beagle with a pellet gun.
The lovely Amber Carson, of Lancaster, PA, takes the BRONZE this year. Amber experienced a “slip-and-fall” in a Philly restaurant resulting from a spilled soft drink that Amber herself had thrown at her boyfriend during an argument less than a minute before! Broken tailbone = $113,500.
The 2010 RUNNER-UP? That would be Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware. The thrifty Ms. Walton, attempting to sneak through the girls’ restroom to avoid paying the nightclub’s $3.50 cover charge, fell through the window and knocked out her two front teeth. Damages? $12,000, plus dentals.
Taking home the GRAND PRIZE is OK City’s pride and joy, Ms. Merve Grazinski. Ms. Merve, having just purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home, drove out to the freeway, accelerated to a comfortable 70 mph, flipped on the cruise control and headed to the back of the Winnie to make herself a sandwich. Now here’s where it gets a little crazy: The driverless motor home left the freeway and overturned!
Ms. Grazinski sued the company for its failure to warn buyers that they shouldn’t leave the driver’s seat with the cruise control engaged. The Oklahoma jury, sympathetic to Ms. Grazinski’s plight, awarded her $1,750,000 plus a new Winnie. Startled, Winnebago promptly included an appropriate warning in its owner’s manual—just in case Ms. Merve might have an Okie relative or two in the market for a motor home.