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View Full Version : It's time again for the annual 'Stella Awards'!


Pistolwiz
February 20, 2012, 22:21
Got this in an email......

It's time again for the annual 'Stella Awards'! For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald's in New Mexico , where she purchased coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right? That's right; these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head. So keep your head scratcher handy.

Here are the Stellas for year -- 2011:

* SEVENTH PLACE *

Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.

Start scratching!

* SIXTH PLACE *

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.

Scratch some more...

* FIFTH PLACE *

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 Keep scratching There are more...

Double hand scratching after this one..

* FOURTH PLACE *

Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella's 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 into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.

Pick a new spot to scratch, you're getting a bald spot..

* THIRD PLACE *

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. What ever happened to people being responsible for their own actions?

Only two more so ease up on the scratching...

*SECOND PLACE*

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 window 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. Go figure.

Ok. Here we go!!

* FIRST PLACE *

This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was; Mrs Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven onto 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. Grazinski 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.
If you think the court system is out of control, be sure to pass this one on.

skeeterbay
February 20, 2012, 23:03
Good Lord! It's enough to make you sick. Common sense ain't so common anymore.

lew
February 21, 2012, 08:41
I want off this ride. It's sad when there are enough dumb folks out there to make me look like a rocket surgeon. :rolleyes: :D

homelandprotector
February 21, 2012, 08:55
In my world I would I would make life so misserable for LAWYERS, that they would probably want to go get a job at 7-11 or Home Depot..

Kill the lawyers ;)

flopshot
February 21, 2012, 09:01
i'd make book that all the winners are obama supporters.

the gman
February 21, 2012, 09:15
Not so fast; James, you of all people should be involved in passing on the TRUTH not the 'big lie' told by corporate McDonalds and you have it DEAD WRONG on Mrs Stella Liebeck:

There is a lot of hype about the McDonalds' scalding coffee case. No one is in favor of frivolous cases of outlandish results; however, it is important to understand some points that were not reported in most of the stories about the case. McDonalds coffee was not only hot, it was scalding -- capable of almost instantaneous destruction of skin, flesh and muscle. Here's the whole story.

Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was in the passenger seat of her grandson's car when she was severely burned by McDonalds' coffee in February 1992. Liebeck, 79 at the time, ordered coffee that was served in a styrofoam cup at the drivethrough window of a local McDonalds.

After receiving the order, the grandson pulled his car forward and stopped momentarily so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. (Critics of civil justice, who have pounced on this case, often charge that Liebeck was driving the car or that the vehicle was in motion when she spilled the coffee; neither is true.) Liebeck placed the cup between her knees and attempted to remove the plastic lid from the cup. As she removed the lid, the entire contents of the cup spilled into her lap.

The sweatpants Liebeck was wearing absorbed the coffee and held it next to her skin. A vascular surgeon determined that Liebeck suffered full thickness burns (or third-degree burns) over 6 percent of her body, including her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and genital and groin areas. She was hospitalized for eight days, during which time she underwent skin grafting. Liebeck, who also underwent debridement treatments, sought to settle her claim for $20,000, but McDonalds refused.

During discovery, McDonalds produced documents showing more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee between 1982 and 1992. Some claims involved third-degree burns substantially similar to Liebecks. This history documented McDonalds' knowledge about the extent and nature of this hazard.

McDonalds also said during discovery that, based on a consultants advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste. He admitted that he had not evaluated the safety ramifications at this temperature. Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures, and coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.

Further, McDonalds' quality assurance manager testified that the company actively enforces a requirement that coffee be held in the pot at 185 degrees, plus or minus five degrees. He also testified that a burn hazard exists with any food substance served at 140 degrees or above, and that McDonalds coffee, at the temperature at which it was poured into styrofoam cups, was not fit for consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat. The quality assurance manager admitted that burns would occur, but testified that McDonalds had no intention of reducing the "holding temperature" of its coffee.

Plaintiffs' expert, a scholar in thermodynamics applied to human skin burns, testified that liquids, at 180 degrees, will cause a full thickness burn to human skin in two to seven seconds. Other testimony showed that as the temperature decreases toward 155 degrees, the extent of the burn relative to that temperature decreases exponentially. Thus, if Liebeck's spill had involved coffee at 155 degrees, the liquid would have cooled and given her time to avoid a serious burn.

McDonalds asserted that customers buy coffee on their way to work or home, intending to consume it there. However, the companys own research showed that customers intend to consume the coffee immediately while driving.

McDonalds also argued that consumers know coffee is hot and that its customers want it that way. The company admitted its customers were unaware that they could suffer thirddegree burns from the coffee and that a statement on the side of the cup was not a "warning" but a "reminder" since the location of the writing would not warn customers of the hazard.

The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages. This amount was reduced to $160,000 because the jury found Liebeck 20 percent at fault in the spill. The jury also awarded Liebeck $2.7 million in punitive damages, which equals about two days of McDonalds' coffee sales.

Post-verdict investigation found that the temperature of coffee at the local Albuquerque McDonalds had dropped to 158 degrees fahrenheit.

The trial court subsequently reduced the punitive award to $480,000 -- or three times compensatory damages -- even though the judge called McDonalds' conduct reckless, callous and willful.

No one will ever know the final ending to this case.

The parties eventually entered into a secret settlement which has never been revealed to the public, despite the fact that this was a public case, litigated in public and subjected to extensive media reporting. Such secret settlements, after public trials, should not be condoned.



Whatever the merits (or lack thereof) of the other cases, Stella Liebeck went through a whole lot of pain and suffering as a result of McDonalds reckless actions, especially after they knew about it for years.

the gman
February 21, 2012, 09:16
And BTW, the rest of the stories are all bullshit: http://www.snopes.com/legal/lawsuits.asp

kfranz
February 21, 2012, 09:36
Thank you gman.

Pistolwiz
February 21, 2012, 11:43
Thanks for the clarification George. :bow:

I got it in an email. Posted it here. I thought if it was BS...It'd get pounced on.

Thing is....With the stupid things I see and hear people doing all the time. I wouldn't be surprised.

Abominog
February 21, 2012, 13:25
Stella Liebeck went through a whole lot of pain and suffering as a result of McDonalds reckless actions, .


Except that, oddly enough, these kinds of things seem to happen to a certain kind of people. They do not happen, for example, to ME, nor to people I call friends.

I dunno about you, but I wouldn't think to put a drink- hot or otherwise- in my crotch. First, I know that things being opened can spill- and I don't want even water on my crotch. And, I always assume that fresh coffee is hot- I don't care if it's 140 or 190- I certainly don't want it on my crotch!

Last I saw, most cars- even Porsches- sold in USA come with cupholders. Maybe Ferarris don't. And the BMW Z convertibles don't at least the Z3 model didn't. BUT I somehow suspect that this "victim" was not driving a Ferarri or BMW Z convertible. Thus, the car had cupholders. If the drink had been where it belonged, she wouldn't have had a problem.

Blame McDonalds if you will, but stupid is as stupid does, and in this case stupid got rewarded.

kfranz
February 21, 2012, 14:25
Depending on the year/make/model of the car she was in, there is a decent chance that it did not have cupholders. Not that a lack of cupholders would excuse her from placing hot liquid between her legs and then dinking around with the lid. Bottom line, McDonalds did not create a situation whereby she got severe burns, she did. Had the drivethru person dumped the cup on her, then it's on them. That is not what happened. This is one of those life choices that we all make, knowing that a wrong move can have painful consequences.

Seaweed
February 21, 2012, 17:31
So what do you do if it happened at home? With all the same parameters? Who do you sue then? I'm sure there must be somebody else responsible...

tac-40
February 21, 2012, 18:55
One thing that Gman didn't say is the original $20,000 claim was to cover her medical bill only. McDonalds blew her and her family off so they got a good lawyer and got her bills paid.

Kubla
February 21, 2012, 20:56
I currently own 2 1988 cars, an 1988 Cadillac fleetwood brougham, and a ford bronco, neither have cup holders, most gas stations and convenience stores sold those cup holders that slipped between your window and door

Retired Bum
February 22, 2012, 03:21
The 1991 Mazda MX-5 Miata I owned did not have a cup holder. I bought one of those plastic cup holders that Kubla described to hold my cold soda's. But the 2000 Miata I bought had two cup holders. Progress.....

My current set of wheels is a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4. It has four cupholders. Enough for a real party it seems.

And so it goes.


The Retired One

the gman
February 22, 2012, 10:44
Depending on the year/make/model of the car she was in, there is a decent chance that it did not have cupholders. Not that a lack of cupholders would excuse her from placing hot liquid between her legs and then dinking around with the lid. Bottom line, McDonalds did not create a situation whereby she got severe burns, she did. Had the drivethru person dumped the cup on her, then it's on them. That is not what happened. This is one of those life choices that we all make, knowing that a wrong move can have painful consequences.

I disagree. Placing a cup between your legs is an act you could reasonably expect to have the consequences of getting your seat and clothes wet and hot if you spill the liquid. What is unexpected is having a company knowingly, willingly and callously serve you coffee that has the potential to give you third degree burns if you spill it.

McDonalds knew for YEARS of this issue and had ignored the situation. The jury clearly heard all the testimony in the case and indeed, found her 20% responsible for the injury. However, I am guessing they took a very dim view of McDonalds' attitude to the issue of SCALDING (literally) hot coffee burning their customers given the size of the punitive damages they awarded. Hell, even on appeal, they were hammered with $480K by a judge.

To my mind, how she got burned is fairly immaterial; what is material is that the company knew fine well their coffee had the potential to scald folks and didn't give a shit about it. That is actionable and I'm glad they got taken to the mat on it.

Powderfinger
February 22, 2012, 15:43
I disagree. Placing a cup between your legs is an act you could reasonably expect to have the consequences of getting your seat and clothes wet and hot if you spill the liquid. What is unexpected is having a company knowingly, willingly and callously serve you coffee that has the potential to give you third degree burns if you spill it.

McDonalds knew for YEARS of this issue and had ignored the situation. The jury clearly heard all the testimony in the case and indeed, found her 20% responsible for the injury. However, I am guessing they took a very dim view of McDonalds' attitude to the issue of SCALDING (literally) hot coffee burning their customers given the size of the punitive damages they awarded. Hell, even on appeal, they were hammered with $480K by a judge.

To my mind, how she got burned is fairly immaterial; what is material is that the company knew fine well their coffee had the potential to scald folks and didn't give a shit about it. That is actionable and I'm glad they got taken to the mat on it.

Thank you the g man.
I tire of the ignorant bashing this woman has received for years. It was proven in court that Micky D's knowingly continued to sell their over heated crap coffe as a business decision. The extra profits they made by extracting more coffee from their preferred cheap beans at 195* more than paid for injuries received by customers in years past. They served coffee capable of causing 3rd degree burns (195* IIRC) rather than the 165* recommended by the National Restaurant Assoc. (which will generally cause 2nd degree burns only in the time a person could strip their saturated clothing) simply for profit.
The woman never received the huge amounts some claim either after the lawyers got their cut. Meanwhile, she had skin grafts to her privates and a, no doubt, pleasant stay in a burn ward with a total of 2 years medical treatment.

Some of the facts of McD's. initial ass-hattery in her claim. They only offered her $800. They got what they had coming:

"Liebeck sought to settle with McDonald's for $20,000 to cover her actual and anticipated expenses. Her past medical expenses were $10,500; her anticipated future medical expenses were approximately $2,500; and her loss of income was approximately $5,000 for a total of approximately $18,000.[15] Instead, the company offered only $800. When McDonald's refused to raise its offer, Liebeck retained Texas attorney Reed Morgan. Morgan filed suit in New Mexico District Court accusing McDonald's of "gross negligence" for selling coffee that was "unreasonably dangerous" and "defectively manufactured". McDonald's refused Morgan's offer to settle for $90,000.[6] Morgan offered to settle for $300,000, and a mediator suggested $225,000 just before trial, but McDonald's refused these final pre-trial attempts to settle.[6]"