Stella Awards

This year
All years
Remember when a New Mexico jury awarded $ 2.9 million U.S. in damages to
81-year-old Stella Liebeck who suffered third-degree burns after spilling
a cup of McDonald's coffee on herself? This case inspired an annual award-
The "Stella" Award for the quirkiest lawsuit in the U.S. The ones listed
below are clear candidates.

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 amuck inside a furniture store. The owners of the store
were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving
toddler was Ms. Robertson's son.

2. June 1998: 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 his neighbor's hubcaps.

3. October 1998: 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, because the automatic door opener was out
of order. 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 million

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 neighbor's beagle. The beagle was on a chain in its owner's
fenced-in yard, as was Mr. Williams. The award was less than sought
because the jury felt Mr. Williams who, at the time, was shooting it
repeatedly with a pellet gun might have provoked the dog.

5. May 2000: A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of
Lancaster, Pennsylvania $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink on the
restaurant floor. 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 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 awarded
$12,000 and dental expenses.