In 1994, a New Mexico jury awarded $ 2.9
million U.S. in damages to 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who suffered
third-degree burns to her legs, groin and buttocks after spilling
a cup of McDonald's coffee on herself.
case inspired an annual award - The "Stella" Award - for
the most frivolous lawsuit in the U.S. The ones you listed below
are clear candidates.
All these cases are verging on the outright ridiculous
and yet with the right attorney you could win anything! (see OJ
1. January 2000: 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 tyke was Ms. Robertson's
2. June 1998: A 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 neighbours hubcap.
3. October 1998: A Terrence Dickson of Bristol
Pennsylvania was exiting a house he finished robbing by way of the
garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up, because
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. 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. Mr.
Dickson sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused
him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of half a
4. October 1999: 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 it's owner's fenced-in yard, as was Mr.Williams.
The award was less than sought because the jury felt the dog may
have been provoked by Mr.Williams who, at the time, was shooting
it repeatedly with a pellet gun.
5. May 2000: A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered
to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania $113,500 after she
slipped on soft drink and broke her coccyx. The beverage was on
the floor because Ms. Carson threw it at her boyfriend 30 seconds
earlier during an argument.
6. December 1997: 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 indow in the ladies room to avoid paying the
$3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.
7. And just so you know that cooler heads
do occasionally prevail: Kenmore Inc., the makers of Dorothy Johnson's
microwave, were found not liable for the death of Mrs. Johnson's
poodle after she gave it a bath and attempted to dry it by putting
the poor creature in her microwave for, "just a few minutes,
on low," The case was quickly dismissed.