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
The following are this year's candidates:
- 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
little toddler was Ms. Robertson's son.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the
owner of a night club 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 through the window in the
ladies room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded
$12,000 and dental expenses.
- This year's favorite could easily be Mr. Merv Grazinski of
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr. Grazinski 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 R.V. 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. The company actually changed their manuals on the
basis of this suit, just in case there were any other complete morons
buying their recreation vehicles.