Posted by: Laurence Harmon on 1/28/2011 | 0 Comments
    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.

    Even in challenging economic times, there’s something special about Christmas.  It’s a season to savor, to forget about atrocious credit card balances, doomed 401Ks, looming stock market plunges, massive layoffs and disastrous unemployment numbers.  So, if you’re like us here at Great Places, you’re in the mood to soar way, way over the top with your 2010 Christmas celebration.  Here are some ideas:


    1.  1. A diamond thong.  Triumph International’s black lace offering encrusted with 518 diamonds—30 carats!--arrayed in a floral pattern accented with 28 tassels made of white gold.  Price tag?  $122,000.  
    2. The $5 million gift card, to be used exclusively for Halcyon Jets, an on-demand private charter aircraft service. 


    The Waterford Crystal chess set.  One of only 10 ever made, offered together with a metal carrying case.  Price tag?  $15,000. 


    4.  The Limited Edition Fighter Motorcycle.  Another rare find.  Only 45 of these 190-mile per hour, carbon-fiber, titanium and aluminum-chassied bikes will be made.  Available exclusively at Neiman Marcus.  Price tag?  $110,000. 

    5.  Dallas Cowboys end zone package.  This exclusive package includes pre-game photos with owner Jerry Jones; a luxury suite for the game; tailgating in the end zone with the Cowboy cheerleaders; and much more.  Price tag?  $500,000, which will be donated to the Salvation Army. 

    6.  Life-size personal replica built with blocks.  Renowned artist Nathan Sawaya will create your personal likeness in Lego blocks from a photo and measurements.  Price tag?  $60,000. 

    7.   Jack Nicklaus’ custom-designed golf course.  The Golden Bear will study the site’s topography and landscape maps, send his team to conduct a survey, and then create a formal design plan and color renderings.  You choose (and pay) the construction crew to build the course, aided by the Hall of Famer’s design team.  When it’s completed, Nicklaus will drop by, play the first round with you, sign his club, and throw in a custom set of his clubs in a personalized bag.  Price tag?  Starts at $1 million.  


    The Harlem Globetrotters on-court experience.  Package includes guaranteed playing time with the world-famous Trotters, intro as a special guest, and access to the team.  Price tag?  $110,000.

    9.  Authentic Guinness home pub.  This exclusive page includes a fully functional, traditional Irish pub crafted from historic and authentic elements and artifacts, plus a VIP trip for two to Dublin (first-class, of course!) and a year’s free fresh Guinness Stout.  Price tag?  $250,000. 

    10.  The Neiman Marcus Limited-Edition Individual 7-Series BMW sedan. In addition to the Beemer, Neiman’s provides two business-class roundtrip tickets, a four-day European stay (including overnights in Munich and the French Riviera), gourmet meals and meetings with BMW engineers and designers.  Price tag?  $160,000. 


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