OPPORTUNISTS AND ) SELF-DESCRIBED VICTIMS ) ) StellaAwards.com Plaintiffs, ) ) pleading before the vs. ) ) Court Of Public Opinion ANY AVAILABLE DEEP POCKETS ) AND THE U.S. JUSTICE SYSTEM ) begs the court to take notice of ) Defendants. ) The Following Cases Already Heard _____________________________)
May it please the court: Quite a few cases have already been presented to the Court of Public Opinion. This page lists the cases that are included in the True Stella Awards Book, now available at your favorite bookstore! The second page lists cases that were published in the TSA newsletter after the book went off to press.
The book is positively stuffed with astounding cases:
Chapter 1: Introduction -- The Birth of the True Stella Awards, including the case of our namesake, Stella Liebeck.
Chapter 2: Abusing the Courts to Further an Agenda -- A "reality" show on the Science Fiction cable TV network features a "Voodoo Priestess". But a special interest group says she's not really a Voodoo Priestess, but merely a priestess of "Yemoja in the Ifa tradition". Oh, the horror. It sues SciFi, demanding the court order it to change its "advertising and content". § Lawyer reads that "trans- fats" are bad for you, so he 1) starts a non-profit informational organization, 2) sues one snackfood company that uses trans-fats, demanding that they stop selling one product to children in California, and 3) drops the suit very quickly, saying his non-profit's web site has received enough publicity. § Animal rights activist wants to stop city children from going to the rodeo -- as the free guests of the rodeo itself -- so she sues. Shouldn't the kids' parents decide what their own children should see? § Musician sued for copyright infringement because he tongue-in-cheekily attributed a blank section of an album to another musician. "I certainly wasn't quoting his silence," he said. "I claim my silence is original silence." Perhaps in the world of lawsuits, such a claim makes some sort of logical sense. § Since the "Beltway Snipers" have been caught, the search for deep pockets to endow the bank accounts of the victims and their families has started. First up: the manufacturer of the gun and the store where it was apparently stolen from. § California says dry cleaners contaminated the water supply, so they sue. Not current dry cleaners, mind you, but elderly people who retired from the business 30 years ago. Oh, and people who have bought the buildings that once, long ago, had a dry cleaning establishment in it. § Adult gets drunk at party, drives away and is killed in car crash. Who's to blame? Not the drunk: His girlfriend, for allegedly letting him drive. His girlfriend's mother, for buying the car for her daughter. The owner of the house the party was in, even though he wasn't there. The girl who rented the house from him. Oh, yeah: and Coors Brewing Co., who made the beer. § Zoo officials decide to move elephant to different zoo to put her with her own kind. But that would interfere with a "special relationship" she has with an elephant of a different species, woman says, so she sues to stop the transfer.
Chapter 3: Medical Cases (or, The Wrong Medicine) -- Obese, cigarette-smoking woman with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a family history of coronary artery disease suffers the expected heath problems associated with those risk factors. Why? Because her doctors didn't force her to change her habits! She sues for $1 million. § Women sue doctors and hospital for "Needless Infliction of Emotional Distress" because they witnessed doctors rushing to aid their very ill mother. Had their case succeeded (it went all the way up to the California Supreme Court!), doctors and hospitals would have been forced to keep family members away anytime they are doing any sort of medical procedures which, let's face it, are often ugly to watch. They put your right to be there for your family members at risk. § Schoolboy running for bus runs into a teacher. She sues the 11-year-old, claiming he "negligently and carelessly" ran into her at an "excessive rate of speed," which caused "severe and multiple injuries". § Dying man eats a McDonald's burrito but can't take the spices in it. Wife, upset that she didn't get a refund or a free Happy Meal when she complained, decides to sue. § Woman claims a bad hair treatment at a salon was enough to cause her emotional distress, depression and to "shut down" so much that she was caused to retire early from her university teaching job and a side job -- and the jury buys it! § 375-pound woman steps on 53-year-old grave, which collapses under her weight. "I thought I was in a Stephen King movie," she says, which is apparently sufficient grounds for a lawsuit. § Man uses restroom stall in city building that doesn't have a door knob. When he sticks his hand through the hole, he gets hurt -- and, of course, sues. He wins almost $3 million. His occupation? City claims examiner. § Woman gets locked in a storage unit and didn't ever call out for help. She ended up being locked in the dark for 63 days. When she sued the storage company for $10 million, the jury wasn't allowed to hear why she didn't call out for help: she's mentally ill. They found in her favor, but were still so suspicious of her story they "only" awarded her $100,000. § Man sues fast food chain over its too-hot onion rings, which reminds the newspaper reporter of Stella. § Attorney cleaning his pool decides to knock palm frond from overhead electrical wires. When he's quite naturally electrocuted, his wife knows who's to blame: the electric company and the company who sold him the pool skimmer, of course!
Chapter 4: It's Not My Responsibility! -- Man says he is having heart attacks and got diabetes because he's obese. Why is he obese? Because McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC failed to tell him that he shouldn't eat their fast food multiple times per week. Meanwhile, a federal judge throws out a similar case filed by obese children, but legal observers warn that's not the end of the issue. § Drunk climbs under parked truck and passes out. When the inevitable happens (yep: squished), who's responsible? According to a lawsuit filed by his mother, everybody -- except, of course, him. § Who to sue in the Rhode Island night club fire where 100 people died? How about the corporate owner of a local radio station that ran a few paid ads for the concert? And.... § Professional big game hunter goes on safari and shoots a lion. It didn't drop dead immediately since he was loaded for rhino and hippo, not lion, and he's mauled. Whose fault is it that the "professional" hunter has the wrong ammo? Why, the ammo manufacturer, of course! He sues. § Drunk pedestrian steps in front of car and is run over. Police exonerate the driver, but the drunk's family sues for $3 million. § Driver, fearing she is about to step in front of him, stops for jay-walking pedestrian. When she passes in front of his vehicle and steps into the next lane without looking, she is hit and severely injured by another car. Who's at fault? The driver who stopped, of course! Her parents' lawsuit is thrown out, but an appeals court restores the case. § Police officer with handcuffed suspect in the back of her police car decides she needs to stun him with her Taser. She "accidentally" pulls her service firearm (which "any reasonable police officer" could do), so who is to blame? Taser! The officer and her police department thus sue the manufacturer. § Man hit by lightning in parking lot. A classic "act of God"? Heavens no! It's the fault of the amusement park that owns the lot, man says in his lawsuit -- they "could have told the people not to go to their cars," his lawyer says. § Woman broken down in her car in a public place decides not to wait for the tow truck to take her on a 60-mile jaunt. Instead, she takes a ride with a stranger -- who rapes and murders her. Yeah yeah, he's caught and convicted, but surely someone needs to pay. How about the auto club?
Chapter 5: Petty Squabbles -- § The famous "pink flamingoes" case: neighbors fight developer by junking their yard; developer sues for $8 million because the junky yard is hindering the sale of the $1.35 million house he built. Is the developer wrong, for suing -- especially for so much? Or is the neighbor wrong, for junking his own yard? § Woman reprimanded by her supervisor for using the office fax machine for personal business sues -- with amusing results. § Woman sues after a car wreck, claiming the auto manufacturer was at fault because it "failed to provide instructions regarding the safe and proper use of a seatbelt." § Class action lawsuit filed against Palm, since the m130 PDA is advertised as showing "more than 65,000 colors" when it really is only capable of producing 58,621 colors. § "God knows 'you don't go for the food'" reads the review of an offbeat restaurant that strives to "entertain" guests. Ah, but this is America! A bad review? Then of course the restaurant must sue the reviewers! § Man makes gag "Wanted Poster" of someone he knows -- who sues him for defamation. § § Newspaper food columnist "became dependent" on the "spiritual self-healing treatments" of the newspaper's "spiritual advice" columnist, paying her between $2 million and $3 million before the spiritualist gets tired of pampering her. The poor victim sues for at least $1 million but not for the money, but rather because "people should be accountable for the harm they cause me." § Woman notes that the receipt she gets when she pays her cell phone bill has a minor slur -- not against her, but against the town she lives in: it's spelled wrong. It goes on for month after month. Does she complain and get it changed? No: she sues. § A group of female employees at a supermarket see a customer walk through the store wearing tight "see-through" shorts -- with nothing on under. "Sexual harassment!" they cry in unison in a Human Rights Act lawsuit ...which the jury throws out on its rear.
Chapter 6: It's My Right! -- Baseball heckler so abusive that fans near him complain, so team asks him privately to quiet down a bit, please. No way, he says -- the team is violating his freedom of speech! He sues. § Multiply- pierced woman told by her employer she can't wear her earrings, eyebrow ring, lip ring (etc.) when she works with the public. "Discrimination!" she cries -- religious discrimination, since she is a member of the "Church of Body Modification". She sues for $2 million. § Lawyer sues airline because he was forced to sit next to a fat man; "He and I [were] literally and figuratively married from the right kneecap to the shoulder for two hours." If the lawyer isn't careful, the man might get a big divorce settlement out of him.... § 15-year-old boy joins Babe Ruth Baseball League, but doesn't get to play as much as he thinks he should. Does he ask for a refund of his sign-up fee? No: he sues for it. And loses. § Newspaper columnist criticizes property developer as a "poverty pimp," to use a phrase the mayor uttered. The developer sues, but the judge agrees with the columnist and awards her damages for having to defend the frivolous lawsuit. § If you peek into a ball park from a public place and watch the game, are you violating the sport's team "copyright" on the view? The Chicago Cubs says yes -- and sues. § Teen throws herself off the Golden Gate Bridge. Tragic -- but who's to blame? With no one logical to sue, the girl's mother sues the bridge's board of directors, claiming they violated the teen's "constitutional right not to be deprived of life without due process of law." § Women file suit claiming that flight attendant's nursery rhyme was meant to degrade them because they're black. Young flight attendant hadn't even heard the racist version of the rhyme. § Bus driver warns proselytizer to stop bothering other passengers with offers of free bibles and literature, since passing out literature is against transit authority rules. When she refuses to stop, she is escorted off the bus -- and sues for that "humiliating" experience. § After an accident, transit authority discovers its driver is color-blind. Federal law requires commercial drivers to correctly see color, so he is pressured to resign. That's not the end, though: he sues, claiming "discrimination" against color-blind people -- even though he claims he is not color-blind. § Movie plot involves bad guys who want to bulldoze a jungle. The company that made the bulldozers sues, saying they were "disparaged" that the bad guys drove their brand. In a similar suit, toy manufacturer sues to stop movie from showing its toy used by an adult when only children are supposed to play with it.
Chapter 7: It Ought to Be a Crime (Lawsuits by Inmates and Criminals) -- In a high- publicity case, road rage man grabs victim's dog and throws it to its death in traffic. He's jailed for felony animal cruelty, but sues his victim for saying "slanderous" things about him to a newspaper. Oh, and may as well sue the newspaper, too.... § State inmate sues prison system claiming they're not letting him practice his religion -- he's a Druid Vampire, and must be allowed sexual access to a "vampress". § Woman commits fraud to get a no- limit credit card and runs up a nearly million-dollar debt. When credit card company sues her demanding she pay her bill, she counter-sues, claiming the company "knew or should have known that [she] was acting impulsively and irrationally at the time." § Cops confront burglar hiding in a building. When he makes a sudden move, they think he's going for a gun and shoot him. Too bad, so sad, right? He was in the middle of committing a felony! The burglar even pleaded guilty, but sued the cops for shooting him, even though investigations found the officers blameless. § Man confronts burglar. Even though he has a shotgun, the burglar attacks him, so the man shoots him. The district attorney declared the shooting justified. End of case? No way! The burglar's family sues the man ...and wins. § Man flees police, drives into construction zone -- and off end of unfinished bridge. Father sues for wrongful death, blaming everyone for his son's actions ...except, of course, for his son.
Chapter 8: The Class Action Lottery -- Old state law says retailers have to mark the price on every item for sale. Most retailers ignore the law: it would drive costs way up -- and those costs would be passed along to consumers. Man complains about one store to state attorney general, who deems the case not worthy of pursuing -- so the man sues the store. $3.8 million settlement goes to wide variety of groups -- including half to lawyers -- but not one cent goes to the supposed victims. § Some Americans who worked with asbestos are coming down with terrible lung diseases. In some cases, employers even ignored safety precautions, adding to the problem. But lawyers are trolling for potential "victims", who trade away their right to sue for a few thousand bucks. Worse, studies show that up to 80 percent of these "victims" have no health problem whatever. Result: companies that used asbestos are going bankrupt, leaving the 20 percent that do have problems with little or nothing. But wait: that's not all.... § Mississippi woman hears there's a class action suit against the drug Propulsid. She gets in on the suit because "I might get a couple of thousand dollars" -- even though she admits "I didn't get hurt by Propulsid." Getting sued by yet another patient who had no injuries was the last straw for her doctor, who decided to move to another state, taking his physician wife too. That left only two doctors to serve a two-county region. The woman wasn't harmed, but how about her neighbors, who now have significantly reduced access to medical care?
Chapter 9: School Daze (What Our Kids are Really Learning) -- High school student works for his mother -- at her law office -- for "work experience" credit. She assigns her son's grade, A+, but the school doesn't recognize A+ grades, so it records an A. He sues. § High school senior is exempt from physical education and gets a higher GPA than is possible for others to get. When the school suggests she share valedictorian honors, she sues to get solo credit -- and wins. What happens to the civil case (where she demanded $2.7 million) is a lesson in unintended consequences. § High school student prohibited from playing baseball after he's implicated in a major internet fraud case. Can't play baseball? That means pro baseball scouts can't see him play! Why, that means he can't go pro! He sues the school for $50 million for lost earnings. § High-achieving high school student is accepted at the college of his choice, though they warn "your enrollment will depend upon your successful completion of your current academic year." He didn't listen: he slacked off, his grades suffered, and his acceptance is revoked. He sues to force the university to accept him anyway. § Cheerleaders want the world to know they're athletes, and cheerleading is a sport. What happens when they get hurt when cheering? Why, they sue, of course!
Chapter 10: Just Plain Stupid -- Man works hard -- very hard -- to woo his fourth wife. When his effort fails, he sues her to get back the expensive gifts he gave her. § Yahoos rent car, drive it around shooting fireworks out the window. When a rocket explodes inside, someone has to be responsible for the resulting death and mayhem. But who? That's right: they sue the car rental agency. § Cable TV channel airs documentary about how music programs help rehabilitate prisoners. One of the prisoner-musicians featured is a murderer; his family sues for the "distress" of having to see the murderer on TV. § Woman sues county after she falls down during a goose "attack". The suit calls the goose a "wild" and "dangerous" animal that the county should not have allowed to live in the park. § Radio station pulls practical joke on restaurant, telling the manager that he can't pay for his meal and offers to do dishes. Manager, nervous since they were recently robbed, calls the police. Ha ha: big joke, you're on the air! Manager -- and cop -- sue the radio station. § Man goes berzerk after his dog gets lost, spending over $20,000 on pet "psychics" and other "professionals" to find the stray he had found on the street. Meanwhile, he let his business collapse so he could spend full time on the search. And who's at fault for all of this? His pet-sitter. He sues her for $160,000. § Singer James Brown's daughters sue him, claiming they are entitled to royalties for "helping" him write his songs -- when they were as young as 3 years old. § Man wins lottery, but argues that he should have won more than he did. The reason? He says the vendor who sold him the tickets didn't explain the rules to him carefully enough, that there was a cap in the amount of winnings, and he had more winning tickets than could be cashed in. The vendor noted that he did give the man the printed rules provided by the state lottery, but the court rules against him anyway!
Chapter 11: SLAPPs and Other Corporate Abuse -- Sharper Image received a bad review from Consumer Reports magazine for its "Ionic Breeze" air filter. Rather than improve the product, it sued the magazine. The judge ruled it was a "Strategic Suit Against Public Participation" -- an illegal "SLAPP" lawsuit, and sanctioned Sharper Image. § Huge toy company sues huge record company -- a singer dared to sing a parody about the Barbie doll. Since "Barbie" is a registered trademark, Mattel considers the word their property, and they can stop anyone else from uttering it or disparaging it. In America? Wrong! § Couple pays off the line of credit on their home, but later fraudsters changed their address with the mortgage company and ran up a $142,000 balance against their home. Homecomings Financial, which didn't even bother to confirm the address change, knows who is to blame. The people who defrauded them? No! The couple, since (it argued) they didn't notify them of the fraud sooner. How could they, when they weren't aware of it? § The massive publicity hype over the new Harry Potter book is "ruined" when a newspaper legally obtains a copy of the book and runs a review of it three days before its highly coordinated worldwide release. Sure that added to the publicity frenzy, but publisher Scholastic sues the newspaper for $100 million, plus "all gains, profits, and advantages" the newspaper derived from its "unlawful" actions. § America -- and the world -- was shocked by how widespread the cases of priests sexually abusing children were. In this instance, the priest was upset that one of his victims came forward and told a newspaper the story of being repeatedly raped -- so he sued his victim for not keeping his mouth shut. § Newspaper accidentally deposits $301,000 into paper carrier's bank account by accident, but when he withholds $26,000 until they give him an accounting of what his pay should be, they sue him instead. § TV Show 60 Minutes does segment on how a certain area of Mississippi has gone lawsuit crazy (e.g., Stella Awards #1). Two jurors who were never named in the broadcast take exception to the criticism and sue the show -- for $6 billion. § California's voter-approved 25-cent-per-pack goes to pay for anti- smoking campaigns. But that means that the tobacco companies are now "vilified" by Californians, two tobacco companies say -- so they sue the state, asking a court to order a stop to the ads. § Abusive collection agency goes after check bouncer for outrageous fees, but the victim is a paralegal and doesn't take it lying down -- she fights back and wins significant damages.
Chapter 12: Your Turn: "Try" a Few Cases -- A pro football star, while speeding in a snow storm, crashed his oversize SUV, killing his assistant. The footballer died two weeks later from a blood clot. His mother sued, arguing that the SUV's roof didn't meet crush standards. The defense noted that the SUV roof not only met but exceeded the federal standards, even though it was not even required to meet them. The mother's attorney begged the jury to send a message and award "at least $75 million, perhaps more than $100 million," in damages. How would you rule? § Man who legally changed his name to "Jack Ass" complains MTV's "Jackass" TV series and movie demeaned, denigrated and damaged his ...uh... good name. No lawyer will take the case, so he files suit by himself, demanding $50 million in damages. § What's your verdict? § Woman on gambling jaunt thrown out of casino for violating house rules. After she sues for $100,000 "civil rights violations", a mediator suggests a $17,000 settlement. But both sides reject it, and the case heads to federal court. Who should win? § 94-year-old woman wins lottery jackpot -- payable over 20 years. She sues to get the full amount immediately since "you know I'm not going to live 20 years." Should she get it?
Chapter 13: We Appeal! -- TSA's attorney-readers respond to some of the cases -- and to TSA itself. Is there really no such thing as an ethical attorney? And the American Trial Lawyers Association positively shakes in its briefs over TSA. And worse: how the American Bar Association would like to "reform" the legal system.
Chapter 14: Conclusion -- What you can do to really make a difference in how this all turns out. You have a lot more power than you might think.
As you can see, the book is packed with hilarious -- and maddening -- cases. You can order it right now.
And we continue to publish them, too. Since the book was sent off to press, we have continued to highlight bizarre-but-true civil cases filed in U.S. courts. To see what's been published so far, head on to Page Two.
Get the cases for free as they're issued! If you don't already have a subscription, you can get one right here:
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