Law Review: The Stella Awards … fake news (but funny)
You’ve probably heard of the Stella Awards named after Stella Liebeck who burned herself with hot coffee from McDonald’s and successfully sued McDonald’s (the award was later dramatically reduced by the court).
If you want to get your blood boiling about lawyers, how bad they are, read these so called “true stories” of the legal system gone bad.
They are designed by folks that don’t like lawyers to get you to support tort reform.
All these stories have been debunked by reputable organizations like Snopes.com and TruthorFiction.com and others. But they are so clever, patently ridiculous with exquisite detail – you can’t help but laugh. And I can’t help but send them your way, my humor column of the month.
My favorite is the first story. It’s as phony as our president, and like our president, very entertaining.
“Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an Oklahoma University football game, having driven on 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. Granzinski 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. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.”
“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 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.”
“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.”
“Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered fourth place in the Stellas 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 and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.”
“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.”
“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.”
All not true.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOA’s, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.portersimon.com.
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