The Stella Awards


Julia is one of those tireless souls who continues to bring Darwin Awards contenders to both her site and to OoL but even some of her offerings might have stiff competition from our American cousins.

Contributor haiku sends this:

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 she could get burned doing that, right?

That’s right; these awards are for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. 

Here are the Stellas for 2015:


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.


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.


Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania 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 reenter 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.


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


A jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania $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.


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.


This year’s runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased a 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 $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.

The US court system is out of control.

Sadly, it is not just the US court system, it’s the UK, the Australian, the Canadian. It’s quite easy to suspect some sort of collusion in this or else the most amazing coincidence in dumbed-down-edness in the Anglo-Saxon judicial system.

As a post earlier at my place showed, it is also out of control in Italy.

You have a lovely All Hallows and don’t get caught by the ghoulies.

10 comments for “The Stella Awards

  1. Voice of Reason
    October 31, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Sorry James – that list is from 2001, and not a single one is true. Check ‘stella awards’ at

    • October 31, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      The highly inaccurate Snopes husband and wife team? You don’t have a more balanced site do you?

      OK, found one – Truth or Fiction. They say fiction but then go on to say fact. WTF? While they are certainly old, they do appear to have happened:

      The court case involving Stella Liebeck is true and is widely known because of it being the little old lady who got millions because of what seemed like a small incident.

      She spilled hot coffee on herself after the drive-through at a McDonald’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

      She was sitting in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car.

      The spill caused severe burns over 6 percent of her body.

      She spent a week in the hospital, underwent several skin drafts, and ended up with permanent scarring on 15 percent of her body.

      According to the Washington State Trial Lawyer’s Association, Liebeck sued McDonalds only after the company refused to pay her medical expenses.

      The WSTLA says her bills added up to $11,000, but McDonalds offered to pay only $800.
      A mediator recommended a $250,000 settlement, which McDonald’s turned down.

      One of the issues in the trial was that Liebeck’s lawyers said there had been several hundred similar cases that McDonald’s had ignored and that the company had refused to reduce the temperature of the coffee machines.

      A jury gave Stella Liebeck $160,000 but also fined McDonald’s a punitive damage of $2.7 million.

      A judge later reduced that amount to $480,000 then McDonald’s settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

      • Voice of Reason
        November 1, 2015 at 9:11 pm

        The original Stella case was indeed true. The others appear not to be. Why would you accept one source, and not the other? You can easily check independently.

  2. Will
    November 2, 2015 at 11:29 am

    They’re fake and they’ve been around for ages.

    There are endless references to their fakery, if for some reason you don’t trust Snopes.

    Here’s one:

    • November 2, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      No, we’ve just established they’re not fake – the original was shown. those links you include are just part of the problem. Just because some site says something is fake, they can have it arse around like anyone.

      And in this case, they do.

      • Will
        November 2, 2015 at 1:23 pm

        Put us out of our misery, please provide a link to something which confirms the authenticity of anything other than the original Macdonalds coffee case.

        At the very least, it seems unlikely that something which was circulating in an email in (at least) 2003 is the recipient of an award in 2015…

        It’s fine to be rude about other people’s references, but you should be up-front with your own.

        • November 4, 2015 at 10:40 am

          Can you provide the link please to the person who is supposed to have faked them? In which publication did they first appear and has the writer acknowledged that he made them up? Until then, Snopes and the hangers on of Snopes can put it where the sun doesn’t shine. 🙂

  3. adam
    November 3, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

Comments are closed.