OT Humor: Great legal cases

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The annual "Stella Awards" ......... Only in America The Stellas 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 frivolously successful lawsuits in the United States. Here are the 2002 winners: 5th Place (tie): 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. ----------------------------------------------------------------- 5th Place (tie): 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 the hubcaps. ---------------------------------------------------------------- 5th Place (tie): 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 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 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 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 awa rded $12,000 and dental expenses. --------------------------------------------------------------- 1st Place: This year's run away winner was Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand new 32 foot Winnebago motor home. On his first trip home, (from an OU football game), 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 RV 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 RVs! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
:-)
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jo4hn posts:

Is this stuff true? If it is, this country is in far more trouble than I thought, because the possibility of coming up with 6 or 12 people to agree that any of these clowns deserved recompense of any kind is frightening.
Charlie Self
"If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner." H. L. Mencken
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that
Snopes (http://www.snopes.com/legal/lawsuits.htm ) says that these are fabricated.
todd
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todd wrote:

You could look at http://stellaawards.com/ where they tend to post links of newspaper reports in their emails. Joe
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I thought I was going to puke my lunch when I read the original post.
THESE ARE BOGUS !!!!
http://www.stellaawards.com/bogus.html
There are some frivilous lawsuits and someday they may approach the audacity of these bogies.
Rich

that
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Sounds like the jury members are on commission to me! LOL! How sad!
Jim

that
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Sorry, all fabricated.
http://www.stellaawards.com/bogus.html
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Seems others have pointed out that these may be bogus, but to top all of them was "the" Houston trial. A Mr. Durst killed a man, cut the body up and disposed of it in Galveston bay IIRC. He was found not guilty of murder by the jury.. Seems the fact that Mr. Durst also admitted to killing the man was not strong enough evidence. Stupid were the prosecutors for only going for murder charges. Had the prosecutors alternatively gone for manslaughter, cutting up a dead body, or hiding a dead body, Mr. Durst probably would be in jail for a long time. But since the prosecution could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this was a murder, Mr. Durst walks. Mr. Durst claimed it was an accident and the jury bought that story.
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I live in Houston and saw some of the people that were on the jury in the local press. They give a new meaning to dumber than dumb. How some of these people even found the court house to show up for jury duty is amazing.

and
by
a
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10 to 1 they're all "transplanted Texans".
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 9/21/03
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I am not so sure that the jury was the dumb group here. Keep in mind that out court system in Houston insults the jurors with $6.00 a day compensation and expects valuable decisions from this under paid group. IIRC they were only to decide whether they believed beyond a reasonable doubt if this was murder. Not being there I would have called it a 50/50 chance. Unfortunately they were not to consider manslaughter or cutting up the body or improperly disposing of the body. The prosecution seemed the to be the dumb group as they indicated that if they had it to do all over again they would not change anything. Now that was a dumb statement. They should have gone after all counts and not just murder.
IMHO for our court system to work out fairly for every one, equal money should be spent on the defense team and the prosecution team.
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A minor point, but the murder (sorry, killing, not murder) & trial were both in Galveston, not Houston. John
On Wed, 26 Nov 2003 20:42:37 GMT, "Leon"

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Isn't Galveston a subdivision in South Houston? ;~)
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Actually, I grew up the city of South Houston, (somewhat South of the city of Houston,) and Galveston was (and is) about 45 miles south of there. ;>
John
On Thu, 27 Nov 2003 01:40:43 GMT, "Leon"

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Aside from the other ones being false, if you actually look at Stella's case against McDonald's you'll see it's not frivolous. http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm ... There's a ton of info about this if you search on Google, it's actually pretty interesting. I'd say McDonald's got off relatively easy.
Jonathan
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letseatpaste@RATATAT_TAThotmail.com says...

Why? Because other people got burned by hot coffee? I've looked at those items in the past and still don't understand how the fact that someone in a car driven by her son-in-law, putting *hot* coffee between her legs while he was driving could hold McDonalds responsible for the fact she got burned when the car took off. Was McD's coffee hotter than others'? Yes, but does that mean if it was a not as hot she still would not have been burned? The injuries may not have been as serious,but I still don't see how one can hold the company accountable for the fact that, knowing she had a hot drink, she still used a very unsafe means of holding that hot coffee while in a moving vehicle. If I was McD's I'd just start serving the stuff cold -- screw the public.

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Because when a company knows that there is a risk of injury (as they were well aware from the many burn cases before), and knows that the customer doesn't understand that risk, it's their obligation to make it as safe as they can. They knew the risk of third degree burns with liquid at that temperature, and they knew that they were serving coffee at a temperature well above what other restaurants serve it at. She only had 2-7 seconds to get the scalding coffee away from her skin, which had soaked into her sweatpants, to avoid serious injury. If it'd been served at a more normal temperature for coffee, the liquid would have cooled quickly enough for her to avoid serious injury. McDonald's had reasonable and economically feasible means to make their product safer, and they made a calculated decision not to do that.
Are third degree burns an appropriate (or commonly expected) consequence for spilling coffee? Eight days in the hospital, skin grafts, tens of thousands in medical bills... Is that a potential consequence you think about when you hold coffee in your hand? You'd normally expect some mild burns or skin irritation.
McDonald's knew of the danger, and figured it was such a small percentage of the amount of coffee they sell, they testified to that in court. They figured out it was better economically in the long run to pay off the relatively few claims for injury. That's the whole reason for huge punitive damages, so companies don't get to make the choice between your safety and their bottom line. Businesses shouldn't be able to calculate the economic value of your safety against severe injury.
Granted, there are abuses of the system, but you can't just throw out the legit cases on a knee jerk reaction... Especially given the fact that she only sued after McDonald's offered to pay her a measly $800 instead of just covering her medical bills, which is all she wanted in the first place.
Jonathan
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On Thu, 27 Nov 2003 13:00:11 -0600, "Jonathan"

Bullsh*t. If the "victim" had gotten her coffee at Ma & Pa's Coffee and Donut Shop, she wouldn't have ever seen a dime. Why? Because no attorney would have taken the case because they knew there was no money in it. What ever happened to personal responsibility?
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Right answer...

.. wrong reason.
Correct reason: there would never have been a serious injury, and thus no lawsuit, because Ma & Pa's Coffee and Donut Shop doesn't serve coffee at a HUNDRED AND NINETY degrees.
FWIW, when this story first came out, I stuck a thermometer into a pot of coffee freshly brewed by my Black & Decker [OBWW] automatic-drip coffee maker: one-sixty-one. And that's plenty hot as far as I'm concerned, hot enough that I won't drink it right away. One-ninety is *waaaaay* too hot to be serving coffee without a warning.
-- Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
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wrote:

America?
I was in the restaurant business for 29 years and learned that the correct temperature for brewing quality coffee is around 200- 205 and the holding temperature should be 185. The quality of the coffee declines at lower temperatures. This is for quality coffee and I don't think McDonald's serves very good coffee and they don't need the high temperatures. Safety sometimes has to come before quality.
Neal
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