Stella Awards

It's time again for the annual "Stella Awards." 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 kinds of cases that make you scratch your head and say WTF.
So keep your head scratcher handy.

Here are the Stellas for the past year:


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!


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...


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.....


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..


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


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.
OK. Here we go!!


This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Gorvandi, of Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , who purchased 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. Gorvandi 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. Gorvandi has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

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Those are great.  Thanks for posting.  After the week I've had I needed a good laugh.

OMG, it makes you wonder what type of people were on the jury, and they should all be jailed for awarding the plaintiffs that kind of money for their own stupidity.  Maybe I'll go into a store and have my son trip me so I can sue, but my luck I would be laughed out of court, or out of an attorney's office, or I'll put my car on cruise control and get out and smoke, since I don't smoke in my my car will come back and pick me up too, and if not, I'll


My thoughts exactly, Rosalie.  I too wondered why the jury in each of these cases would find in favor of the plaintiff.  True insanity for sure.

I figure there just has to be more to the story here that is not being told.  It's just too ridiculous otherwise.  Must be missing something.

Like with the actual "Stella" case, that woman did spill the coffee in her lap but it was so hot, she was actually scarred for life around her private parts.    After I found out more facts about that case, I totally understood why she won.  I just think maybe the same is true with the others.

Kelli, I read up on the Stella Liebeck case too and it does appear that her case received a lot of negative press, which is unfortunate for her because after reading about her case, I didn't feel it was a specious lawsuit and it's very unfair that her case was made an example of for people who file frivolous lawsuits for personal gain.  I read she was willing to settle her case for 20k but McDonald's refused and ended up having to pay her a lot more in the end.  Serves them just right.

There is actually a documentary about this case and the effects of tort reform on lawsuits.  There is so much misinformation out there about this case it's unbelievable.  Stella Lieback was not even driving the car when she got her coffee.  Her grandson or nephew drove the car through the drive-thru window, and then he pulled over into a parking spot so they could put cream and sugar in and get situated before driving.   When she opened the lid, the coffee spilled all over her legs, groin area, and waist.  They showed pictures of her burns, and I wanted to vomit.  They were horrible third degree burns.   She did not put the coffee between her legs.  The coffee was kept way too hot.  There is a certain temperature it is supposed to be kept, and they kept it way over that and admitted it.   She only asked for her medical expenses to be covered, and they either wouldn't pay or offered a ridiculously low amount.  I can't remember now.  But she was completely wronged, McDonald's was totally at fault, didn't want to help her, and someone this case was made into the butt of all the late night TV show jokes.   The movie is called Hot Coffee.    Poor woman.


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