We hear loads of personal injury claims every day in the news. Perhaps a man fell through the floorboards of an office and got stuck for several hours, maybe an office elevator got stuck and left employees trapped for several hours, or perhaps someone spilled coffee on their trousers and got serious burns. Whatever the case, there are plenty of horrific and silly injuries that appear in the news now and then, but did you know that the majority of them actually end up as lawsuits?
It’s true! And here are three of the most ridiculous court cases that actually paid out to prove that point.
This is a famous case that many people around the world have heard of. Imagine yourself going through a McDonald’s drive-through on a cold winter night. Instead of going for something indulgent like a Big Mac meal with a side of fries and cola, you just want a nice hot cup of coffee to warm yourself up as you drive home. Unfortunately, as you open the lid you fumble and the cup of coffee spills over your trousers, scalding your thighs and making a mess of your car! Damn, better wipe it off, get some cold ice patches on your legs and buy another coffee, perhaps?
Not for Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from New Mexico. In 1992, Stella Liebeck bought a hot coffee from a McDonald’s drive-through and decided to open it to sip on her hot drink. Unfortunately, her hands slipped and the coffee spilled over into her lap, causing burns to her thigh, buttocks, and groin. To make matters worse, she was wearing cotton sweatpants which soaked up all of the scalding hot liquid, making it even worse.
She was hospitalized for over a week due to the serious injuries to her lower body. She underwent skin grafting and other complicated surgeries and ended up with two additional years of medical treatment. Eventually, she sued McDonald’s because their coffee was far too hot, and she said that if she had bought the coffee from another location she wouldn’t have been burned so badly. After a long court battle with the fast food giant, she won a ridiculous $2.7 million in punitive damages.
As you might expect, this lawsuit became a media sensation that drew in millions of curious readers at the time. They even named an award after her: The Stella Awards, which is a collection of ridiculous and laughable legal claims. For a cup of coffee that cost just half a dollar, that’s an incredibly big payout. Over a couple of years of court appearances and legal payouts.
Serious personal injuries like this incident are one of the most common incidents that actually make it to court. If the fine was lower, however, it would have most likely been settled outside of court. You can check out new details by Robins Cloud if you think you’ve been in a similar accident. So the next time you injure yourself due to a hot drink or fork that fell onto your foot, you can reach out to an accident lawyer to see what your chances of winning a lump sum of $1 million are.
Have you ever wondered why many simple household objects carry the silliest of warnings? For example, your pair of shorts or a bra might carry a “flammable” warning, or your electronic devices could have a “risk of exploding” warning plastered on them. Well, as seen with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, some electronic devices do in fact explode randomly. And, well, things can catch on fire as detailed by the company that made your undergarments. However silly these warnings might be, they’re there for a reason as this following case will show you.
In 2012, Sirgiorgiro Clardy brutally beat someone with a pair of Nike Air Jordans that were on his feet. He stomped on his poor victim several times, injuring him in several places and causing a bloody mess on the person. His victim’s face turned into a bloody pulp and he required plastic surgery and stitches in several places. However, instead of blaming someone else or his victim for provoking him, Sirgiorgiro Clardy decided to blame a company: Nike.
Sirgiorgiro Clardy claims that Nike didn’t have enough warnings and labels on their shoes that tell people of their dangerous face-beating qualities. Apparently, he requested that Nike put labels on their shoes to warn consumers that their trainers can also be used as deadly weapons. Luckily, the judge dismissed Sirgiorgiro Clardy’s claim and he was sentenced to a century in prison. In addition to brutally beating someone with a shoe, he also beat an 18-year-old woman that he forced to work as a prostitute.
Not much is known about the victim himself, but this is a serious case of an injury that was removed from the spotlight because the perpetrator decided to sue Nike for $100 million that he had no chance of winning. However, if Sirgiorgiro Clardy did win, then almost every manufacturer would have to put a “warning: dangerous weapon” label on almost every product they have. Whether it’s a spoon, a fork or even a pillow, almost everything can be used as a weapon in some degree, so we’re all lucky that he didn’t win his ridiculous case.
There are times when we don’t know who to sue. For example, if you’ve been injured at work by a steel beam or something at a construction site, then chances are you should probably be suing the company you work for. But what if the whole case doesn’t make sense? What if you should be suing the person who released the steel beam that hit you, or the person that swung the steel beam carelessly and clipped your body? There are times when you might even think that you’re to blame because you were just careless, but in a situation like that, do you actually sue yourself?
Probably not. The best course of action is to just speak to a personal injury lawyer and have them make the decision for you. However, if you’re stuck in prison without anyone to speak to and with a limited amount of phone calls, it can be rather tough finding someone to blame for an injury. Robert Lee Brock did exactly this back in 1995. The Indian Creek Correctional Center inmate decided to hand-write a seven-page lawsuit while in prison. In the lawsuit, he explains that he partook in alcohol beverages in 1993, July 1st which resulted in him violating his own religious beliefs. It was apparently done by him going out and getting arrested, which was the result of his 23 years in prison due to breaking and entering and grand larceny.
He stated that he wanted to pay himself $5 million, but he asked that the state pays it because he can’t work and is a ward of the state. The judge commended him for his “innovative approach to civil rights litigation”, but ultimately shrugged off the lawsuit because of how ridiculous his compensation was.
This is a unique case of suing yourself that almost manages to twist the law. Cases like this pop up now and then but most of them attempt to bend the law to get money from the state or a business. It just goes to show that people can get ridiculous when it comes to lawsuits, and it doesn’t help that these wild fantasies are assisted by lawyers who take the ideal of serving their clients to ridiculous extremes.
Ridiculous injury claims exist. Many of them win, some of them don’t fare too well. However, the important thing to remember is that many of these injury claims have very serious implications behind them. For example, the first one with the hot coffee is the reason why a lot of coffee cups have those “warning: hot” labels on them. It’s both to warn people but also to protect themselves from future lawsuits and other similar incidents. For McDonald’s, the amount they pay hurts but they can still keep themselves afloat. If you run a small business and you’re sued for millions, however, then it could potentially kill your business.
Similarly, while beating someone with a shoe then claiming that shoe was too dangerous is a bit ludicrous, you can make a case if you end up in an accident or someone you know is hurt because of something that wasn’t labeled properly or advertised correctly. For example, if a low-quality shelf is unbalanced and there are no warnings about the weight distribution, and that shelf happens to fall and injure you or a family member, then you could absolutely make a claim against the company that made or distributed that shelf.
For the last one, we see that the law has several loopholes that can, in many cases, be exploited. Although the examples given are ridiculous, it doesn’t mean that we won’t see the end of suing yourself for personal gain.