The “Stella Awards” have nothing to do with pathetic Stanley Kowalski famously wailing, “Stella! Hey, Stella” in Tennessee Williams’ 1951 film Streetcar Named Desire.
Â Rather, they are namedÂ for theÂ then-79 year old Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, N.M. who ordered a forty-nine cent cup of 180 degree coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in 1992, foolishly placed it between her legs, sustained serious scalding to her thighs, buttocks, and pelvis,sued Mickey D’s for $20,000, and won $2,860,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, a figure later reduced to $640,000 before the case was finally settled for an undisclosed amount.
Liebeck vs McDonald’s Restaurants is now regarded as the poster case for tort reform in America.Â Thanks to our greedy legal profession, two decades later, that reform has not happened and, indeed in the interim, frivolous civil lawsuits have mushroomed and have clogged our already-clogged courts.
And, the plaintiffs often win!
Stella Liebeck was seriously injured as a result of her carelessness but many of the subsequent claims totally lack any merit and hence the crying need for the “Stella Awards” to remind Americans of the idiocy of our legal system.
Â THE WINNERS OF THE 2012 “STELLA AWARDS,” LISTED ACCORDING TO THEIR LEVEL OF ABSURDITY:
SEVENTH PLACE. Â Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $80,000 after she broke her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The jury wasn’t concerned that said toddler was Ms. Robertson’s son.
SIXTH PLACE. Â Los Angeles resident Carl Truman won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand. Â Mr. TrumanÂ hadn’t noticed there was someone behind the wheel of the Honda Accord as he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps.
FIFTH PLACE. Â Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania, tried to exit a home he had just burglarized through the vacationing homeowners’ garage but couldn’t get the automatic door opener to work and couldn’t re-enter the house because he had inadvertently locked the door.Â Dickson he spent 8 days subsisting on Pepsi Cola and dog food, sued the homeowner claiming mental anguish and was awarded $500,000.
FOURTH PLACE. Â Jerry Williams of Little Rock, AR won $14,500 in addition to his medical expenses when he was bitten on his nasty ass by his neighbor’s chained beagle after Williams climbed over a fence into the neighbor’s yard and repeatedly shot the poor animal with a pellet gun.
THIRD PLACE.Â A Philadelphia restaurant had to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink she had thrown at her boyfriend 30 seconds before during an argument and broke her coccyx.
SECOND PLACE. Kara Walton of Claymont, DE sued the owner of a night club after she fell out of a ladies room window onto the floor and knocked out her two front teeth.Â Ms. Walton was trying to skip paying a $3.50 cover charge and was awarded $12,000 plus dental expenses.
FIRST PLACE. Â The 2012 winner of the prestigious “Stella Awards” was Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, OK who purchased a 32-foot Winnebago motor home, set the cruise control at 70 mph, then went into into the back of the RV to get a bite to eat, oblivious of the fact cruise control merely regulates speed and not direction.Â The vehicle understandably crashed and overturned, Mrs.Grazinski filed a suit against Winnebago for not advising her that it was asinine to leave the driver’s seat and an equally-dumb jury gave her $1,750,000 plus a new motor home, thus rewardingÂ her for being an ignoramus but earning her theÂ top “Stella Award” for being the biggest nincompoop of 2012.Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â Then, again, since all the above madeÂ a bundle with their spurious lawsuits, who are the real nincompoops–Mrs. Grazinsky and her cohortsÂ or the rest of us who ended up paying them for their stupidity one way or another?Â
(Hat tip to Tom S.)