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Annual Stella Awards – OR – Stupidity Reigns in the Jury Box

March 10, 2013

For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after
81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and
successfully sued the McDonald’s in New Mexico, where she purchased
coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it
between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one
could get burned doing that, right? That’s right; these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kind of cases that make you scratch your head. So keep your head
scratcher handy . . .

Here are the Stellas for this past year — 2012.

* SEVENTH PLACE *

Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $80,000 by a jury of
her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably
surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.

Start scratching!

* SIXTH PLACE *

Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California,won $74,000 plus medical
expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn’t notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps.

Scratch some more…

* FIFTH PLACE *

Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for
Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned, and he could
not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn’t re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when
Dickson pulled it shut.
Forced to sit for eight, count ’em, EIGHT days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner’s
insurance company claiming undue mental anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish. We should all have this kind of anguish Keep scratching. There are
more…

Double hand scratching after this one.

* FOURTH PLACE *

Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella’s when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being
bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor’s beagle – even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner’s fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might
have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with
a pellet gun.

Pick a new spot to scratch– you’re getting a bald spot.

* THIRD PLACE *

Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. Whatever happened to people being
responsible for their own actions?

Only two more, so ease up on the scratching . . .

*SECOND PLACE*

Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware, sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000 . . . oh, yeah, plus dental expenses. Go figure.

Ok. Here we go!! Drum roll
. . .

* FIRST PLACE *

This year’s runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to
the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed
and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner’s manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury
awarded her–are you sitting down?–$1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski had any relatives who might also buy a motor home. Do you think the court system is out of control and America has lost ALL common sense?

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