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Only in America ...

Discussion in 'Jokes and Humour' at netrider.net.au started by Vani, Dec 28, 2005.

  1. It's time once again to review the winners of the Annual "Stella Awards." The Stella Awards are named after 81 year-old Stella Liebeck of New Mexico who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's. That case inspired the Stella awards for the most frivolous, ridiculous, successful lawsuits in the United States.

    Here are this year's winners:



    7th 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 owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving little toddler was Ms. Robertson's son.

    6th Place: 19-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbour 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 neighbour's hubcaps.

    5th Place: 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.

    4th Place: Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbour'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 had climbed over the fence into the yard and was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.

    3rd Place: 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 argument.

    2nd Place: Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a night club in a neighbouring 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.

    1st Place: This year's runaway winner was Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mrs. Grazinski purchased a brand new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, (from an OU football game), having driven onto the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers seat to go into the back & make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the RV left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mrs.Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising her in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually do this. The jury awarded her $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 around.
     
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  2. As funny as this is, it's also about 4 years old!
     
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  3. A more recent version then?

    The 2004 True Stella Awards Winners
    by Randy Cassingham
    Issued 31 January 2005

    #6: The Tribune Co. of Chicago, Ill. The newspaper chain owns several newspapers, as well as the Chicago Cubs baseball team. One of its newspaper carriers was Mark Guthrie, 43, of Connecticut. One of its ball players was Mark Guthrie, 38, of Illinois. The company's payroll department mixed the two up, putting the ballplayer's paycheck into the paper carrier's bank account. The carrier allowed them to take back 90 percent of the improperly paid salary, and said they could have the rest after they gave him a full accounting to ensure he not only got his own pay, but wouldn't have any tax problems for being paid $300,000(!) extra. The Tribune Co., rather than provide that reasonable assurance, instead sued him for the rest of the money.

    #5: "High Tech" retailer Sharper Image sells a lot of its "Ionic Breeze" air filters. As part of a comparative review of many air filters, Consumer Reports magazine found the "Ionic" unit was the worst performer. SI complained, saying it didn't do a "fair" test. CU asked what sort of test should be done, but SI never replied -- until it sued CU. A federal judge ruled the suit not only had no merit, but was actually an illegal attempt to squelch public discussion. SI was ordered to pay CU $400,000 to cover its legal defense costs.

    #4: Edith Morgan, mother of Kansas City Chiefs football star Derrick Thomas, who died after being thrown from his SUV in a crash while speeding in a snowstorm. Morgan said Thomas's neck was broken because the SUV's roof collapsed a few inches -- not from rolling down the highway because he wasn't wearing a seatbelt -- and sued General Motors. Her lawyer begged jurors to award more than $100 million in damages, perhaps more -- he "did not want to put an upper limit on it." GM pointed out that Thomas's oversize SUV was exempt from federal roof crush standards, yet it met them anyway. The jury sent a message: of that $100 million, it awarded Morgan ...nothing.

    #3: Tanisha Torres of Wyndanch, N.Y. The woman sued Radio Shack for misspelling her town as "Crimedanch" on her cell phone bill. She didn't even ask them to change it; she just sued. "I'm not a criminal," she whined. "My son plays on the high school football team." Yeah, that makes sense. The name "Crimedanch" is a common joke; police in the area confirm it's a high-crime area. Still, Torres claimed she suffered "outrage" and "embarrassment" at having to see that spelling on her private phone bill. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

    #2: Homecomings Financial, a subsidiary of GMAC Financial Services, which is a division of General Motors. The finance company accepted a change of address notice from identity thieves for the account belonging to Robert and Suzanne Korinke. The thieves ran up a $142,000 debt, and the Korinkes notified Homecomings of the fraud the moment they discovered it. Homecomings sued them two years later, saying the couple's "negligence" is what "caused the injury to Homecomings," not the fact that the company accepted a change of address from fraudsters -- and then gave them all the money they could drain. The victims got the company to drop the suit, which demanded $74,000 plus attorney's fees, after shelling out $5,000 in legal fees -- an outcome the couple's lawyer called "really lucky".

    And the winner of the 2004 True Stella Award: Mary Ubaudi of Madison County, Ill. Ubaudi was a passenger in a car that got into a wreck. She put most of the blame on the deepest pocket available: Mazda Motors, who made the car she was riding in. Ubaudi demands "in excess of $150,000" from the automaker, claiming it "failed to provide instructions regarding the safe and proper use of a seatbelt." One hopes Mazda's attorneys make her swear in court that she has never before worn a seatbelt, has never flown on an airliner, and that she's too stupid to figure out how to fasten a seatbelt.
     
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  4. 2003 STELLA AWARDS


    #8: Stephen Joseph of San Francisco, Calif. Joseph runs a non-profit group whose goal is to ban the "trans fats" used in many processed foods and which are indeed very unhealthy. But to help gain publicity for his cause, Joseph, an attorney, chose one food that uses trans fats -- Oreo cookies -- and sued Kraft Foods for putting the stuff in the snack. The resulting publicity over "suing Oreos" was so intense that Joseph dropped the suit after just 13 days. He never even served the suit on Kraft, showing that he had no interest in actually getting the case heard in court. What real cases got pushed aside during his abuse of the courts to get publicity for his pet organization?

    #7: Shawn Perkins of Laurel, Ind. Perkins was hit by lightning in the parking lot Paramount's Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio. A classic "act of God", right? No, says Perkins' lawyer. "That would be a lot of people's knee-jerk reaction in these types of situations." The lawyer has filed suit against the amusement park asking unspecified damages, arguing the park should have "warned" people not to be outside during a thunderstorm.

    #6: Caesar Barber, 56, of New York City. Barber, who is 5-foot-10 and 270 pounds, says he is obese, diabetic, and suffers from heart disease because fast food restaurants forced him to eat their fatty food four to five times per week. He filed suit against McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC, who "profited enormously" and asked for unspecified damages because the eateries didn't warn him that junk food isn't good for him. The judge threw the case out twice, and barred it from being filed a third time. Is that the end of such McCases? No way: lawyers will just find another plaintiff and start over, legal scholars say.

    #5: Cole Bartiromo, 18, of Mission Viejo, Calif. After making over $1 million in the stock market, the feds made Bartiromo pay it all back: he gained his profits, they said, using fraud. Bartiromo played baseball at school, but after his fraud case broke he was no longer allowed to participate in extracurricular sports. Bartiromo clearly learned a lot while sitting in federal court: he wrote and filed his own lawsuit against his high school, reasoning that he had planned on a pro baseball career but, because he was kicked off the school's team, pro scouts wouldn't be able to discover him. His suit demands the school reimburse him for the great salary he would have made in the majors, which he figures is $50 million.

    #4: Priest David Hanser, 70. Hanser was one of the first Catholic priests to be caught up in the sex abuse scandal. In 1990, he settled a suit filed by one of his victims for $65,000. In the settlement, Hanser agreed not to work with children anymore, but the victim learned that Hanser was ignoring that part of the agreement. The victim appealed to the church, asking it to stop Hanser from working near children, but the church would not intervene. "It's up to the church to decide where he works," argued the priest's lawyer. When the outraged victim went to the press to warn the public that a pedo priest was near children, Hanser sued him for the same $65,000 because he violated his own part of the deal -- to keep the settlement secret. The message is clear: shut up about outrageous abuse, or we'll sue you for catching us.

    #3: Wanda Hudson, 44, of Mobile, Ala. After Hudson lost her home to foreclosure, she moved her belongings to a storage unit. She says she was inside her unit one night "looking for some papers" when the storage yard manager found the door to her unit ajar -- and locked it. She denies that she was sleeping inside, but incredibly did not call for help or bang on the door to be let out! She was not found for 63 days and barely survived; the formerly "plump" 150-pound woman lived on food she just happened to have in the unit, and was a mere 83 pounds when she was found. She sued the storage yard for $10 million claiming negligence. Even though the jury was not allowed to learn that Hudson had previously diagnosed mental problems, it found Hudson was nearly 100 percent responsible for her own predicament -- but still awarded her $100,000.

    #2: Doug Baker, 45, of Portland, Ore. Baker says God "steered" him to a stray dog. He admits "People thought I was crazy" to spend $4,000 in vet bills to bring the injured mutt back to health, but hey, it was God's dog! But $4,000 was nothing: he couldn't even take his girlfriend out to dinner without getting a dog-sitter to watch him. When the skittish dog escaped the sitter, Baker didn't just put an ad in the paper, he bought display ads so he could include a photo. His business collapsed since he devoted full time to the search for the dog. He didn't propose to his girlfriend because he wanted the dog to deliver the ring to her. He hired four "animal psychics" to give him clues to the animal's whereabouts, and hired a witch to cast spells. He even spread his own urine around to "mark his territory" to try to lure the dog home! And, he said, he cried every day. Two months in to the search, he went looking for the dog where it got lost -- and quickly found it. His first task: he put a collar on the mutt. (He hadn't done that before for a dog that was so "valuable"?!) After finding the dog, he sued the dog sitter, demanding $20,000 for the cost of his search, $30,000 for the income he lost by letting his business collapse, $10,000 for "the temporary loss of the special value" of the dog, and $100,000 in "emotional damages" -- $160,000 total. God has not been named as a defendant.

    And the winner of the 2003 True Stella Awards: The City of Madera, Calif. Madera police officer Marcy Noriega had the suspect from a minor disturbance handcuffed in the back of her patrol car. When the suspect started to kick at the car's windows, Officer Noriega decided to subdue him with her Taser. Incredibly, instead of pulling her stun gun from her belt, she pulled her service sidearm and shot the man in the chest, killing him instantly. The city, however, says the killing is not the officer's fault; it argues that "any reasonable police officer" could "mistakenly draw and fire a handgun instead of the Taser device" and has filed suit against Taser, arguing the company should pay for any award from the wrongful death lawsuit the man's family has filed. What a slur against every professionally trained police officer who knows the difference between a real gun and a stun gun! And what a cowardly attempt to escape responsibility for the actions of its own under-trained officer.
     
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  5. The sad thing about these lists is that we are getting to be as litigious as the Yanks. How long before a 20 stone rider sues Honda because he can't get 160 kph out of a 125??
     
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  6. Incidentally, pretty much all of the cases in the opening post are, in fact, fake.

    With regards to the original Stella case, here's a brief break-down summary of what happened and why damages were awarded:

    http://www.stellaawards.com/stella.html

    After reading it, the original Stella case is not quite as outrageous as it first sounds, but it is still pretty bad. 700 people had been known to receive serious burns from McDonalds coffee at the time that the case was filed. It's still an abuse of the litigation law though, but I suspect that this clumsy old lady got lucky with a sympathetic jury.
     
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  7. Some of those people must be complete idiots.... some people will do anything for a quick buck :(

    Isn't there some law currently being put through the senate to make it harder for people like this to sue??
     
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  8. All the ones in the opening post are fake/bogus, apart from the original Stella case.

    All the subsequent ones (The True Stella Awards) are real.

    This site, apparantly run by some media group, seeks to raise and highlight these issues and act as some sort of self-appointed watchdog.
     
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  9. It is not as bad as the news media makes out. Most of the 'headline' awards get overturned or reduced on appeal.

    The US Senate has passed laws this year that make it harder for plaintiffs to shop around for the state or local jurisdiction that will pay out the most, and a lot of these civil cases have to go to a federal court.

    Plantiff lawyers are the Democrat's largest or second largest contributors, I recall.
     
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  10. :shock:
    cant believe some of the crap that happens
    and then people go out and sue???
    hope oneday some will conter sue due to "STUPIDITY"
     
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  11. Remind me if I ever make a mistake to cover it up.
     
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