2013-09-06

Random Ramblings


On awards for stupidity . . .

I don't know about you, but it's the end of the week and I could use a good laugh. So here, for your amusement, is a selection of past winners of the Stella Awards.

The Stella Awards, not to be confused with the Stellar Awards which honour gospel music, are awarded for frivolous lawsuits, named in honour of 81-year old Stella Stella Liebeck. She took the lid off of her take-out coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving and then successfully sued the McDonald's she purchased it from when she spilled hot coffee on herself.

These cases were taken from the The True Stellas.

Sentry Insurance Company provided worker's compensation insurance for a Wisconsin "Meals on Wheels" program. Delivering a meal, a MoW volunteer (who was allegedly not even wearing boots) slipped and fell on a participant's driveway that had been cleared of snow, and Sentry had to pay to care for her resulting injuries. Sentry wanted its money back, so it sued the 81-year-old homeowner getting the Meals on Wheels service. It could have simply filed for "subrogation" from her homeowner's insurance company, but by naming her in the action, it dragged an old lady into court, reinforcing the image of insurance companies as concerned only about the bottom line, not "protecting" policyholders from loss.

Marcy Meckler. While shopping at a mall, Meckler stepped outside and was "attacked" by a squirrel that lived among the trees and bushes. And "while frantically attempting to escape from the squirrel and detach it from her leg, [Meckler] fell and suffered severe injuries," her resulting lawsuit says. That's the mall's fault, the lawsuit claims, demanding in excess of $50,000, based on the mall's "failure to warn" her that squirrels live outside.

Michelle Knepper of Vancouver, Washington, picked a doctor out of the phone book to do her liposuction, and went ahead with the procedure even though the doctor was only a dermatologist, not a plastic surgeon. After having complications, she complained she never would have chosen that doctor had she known he wasn't Board Certified in the procedure. So she sued ...the phone company!

Rhonda Nichols says a wild bird "attacked" her outside a home improvement store in Fairview Heights, Ill., causing head injuries. That's right: outside the store. Yet Nichols still held the Lowe's store responsible for "allowing" wild birds to fly around free in the air. She never reported the incident to the store, but still sued for "at least" $100,000 in damages.

Christopher Roller of Burnsville, Minn., is mystified by professional magicians, so he sued David Blaine and David Copperfield to demand they reveal their secrets to him -- or else pay him 10 percent of their lifelong earnings, which he figures amounts to $50 million for Copperfield and $2 million for Blaine. The basis for his suit: Roller claims that the magicians defy the laws of physics, and thus must be using "godly powers" -- and since Roller is god (according to him), they're "somehow" stealing that power from him.

Mary Ubaudi of Madison County, Illinois, was a passenger in a car that got into a wreck. She put most of the blame on the deepest pocket available: Mazda Motors, who made the car she was riding in. Ubaudi demands "in excess of $150,000" from the automaker, claiming it "failed to provide instructions regarding the safe and proper use of a seatbelt."

Shawn Perkins of Laurel, Indiana, was hit by lightning in the parking lot Paramount's Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio. A classic "act of God", right? No, says Perkins' lawyer. "That would be a lot of people's knee-jerk reaction in these types of situations." The lawyer has filed suit against the amusement park asking unspecified damages, arguing the park should have "warned" people not to be outside during a thunderstorm.

Caesar Barber, 56, of New York City, who is 5-foot-10 and 270 pounds, says he is obese, diabetic, and suffers from heart disease because fast food restaurants forced him to eat their fatty food four to five times per week. He filed suit against McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC, who "profited enormously" and asked for unspecified damages because the eateries didn't warn him that junk food isn't good for him.

Sisters Janice Bird, Dayle Bird Edgmon and Kim Bird Moran sued their mother's doctors and a hospital after Janice accompanied her mother, Nita Bird, to a minor medical procedure. When something went wrong, Janice and Dayle witnessed doctors rushing their mother to emergency surgery. Rather than malpractice, their legal fight centered on the "negligent infliction of emotional distress" -- not for causing distress to their mother, but for causing distress to them for having to see the doctors rushing to help their mother.

And my personal favourite:
Utah prison inmate Robert Paul Rice, serving 1-15 years on multiple felonies, sued the Utah Department of Corrections claiming the prison was not letting him practice his religion: "Druidic Vampire". Rice claimed that to do that, he must be allowed sexual access to a "vampress". In addition, the prison isn't supplying his specific "vampiric dietary needs" (yes: blood). Records show that Rice registered as a Catholic when he was imprisoned in 2000. "Without any question we do not have conjugal visits in Utah," said a prison spokesman when the suit was thrown out. Which just goes to prove prison life sucks.

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