A List of Hard-to-Believe Court Awards That Have Inspired the “Stella Awards”-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
This email lists seven alleged court decisions in various states in the U.S. that awarded large cash awards to people under apparently absurd circumstances, including occasions when they were responsible for their own injury or loss. Later versions say these court cases have won the “Stella Award,” named after an elderly woman who won a large award from a lawsuit against McDonalds’s.
TruthOrFiction.com has checked court records and news archives for the cities mentioned, and have not found any documentation for any of these stories.
When this eRumor started circulating, we didn’t find anything that resembled the “Stella Awards,” but there is a group that has now started such an award at http://www.stellaawards.com.
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.