2002 Stella Awards It's time once again to consider the candidates for the annual Stella Awards. The Stella's are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonalds. That case inspired the Stella Awards for the most frivolous successful lawsuits in the United States.
The following are this year's candidates:
1. 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 toddler was Ms. Robertson's son.
2. A 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 didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hub caps.
3. 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 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 and 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. He sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of $500,000.
4. 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. 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 just a little provoked at the time by Mr. Williams, who was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.
5. A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay $113,500 to Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 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.
6. Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a nightclub in a neighboring 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 into the club through the window in the ladies
room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.
7. This year's favorite, however, could easily be Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased a brand new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On his first trip home, having driven onto the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers 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 couldn't actually do this. The jury awarded him $1,750,000 plus a new motor home. To top it off, the Winnebago Company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit, just in case there were any other complete morons buying their recreational vehicles.