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Posted September 27, 2002

In March 1995, a San Diego man unsuccessfully attempted to sue the city and Jack Murphy Stadium for $5.4 million over something that can only be described as a wee problem -- Robert Glaser claimed the stadium's unisex bathroom policy at a Billy Joel and Elton John concert caused him embarrassment and emotional distress thanks to the sight of a woman using a urinal in front of him. He subsequently tried "six or seven" other bathrooms in the stadium only to find women in all of them. He asserted he "had to hold it in for four hours" because he was too embarrassed to share the public bathrooms with women.

A San Carlos, California, man is suing the Escondido Public Library for $1.5 million. His dog, a 50-pound Labrador mix, was attacked by the library's 12-pound feline mascot, L.C., (also known as Library Cat).

In 1994, a student at the University of Idaho unsuccessfully sued that institution over his fall from a third-floor dorm window. He'd been mooning other students when the window gave way. It was contended the University failed to provide a safe environment for students or to properly warn them of the dangers inherent to upper-storey windows.

In 1993, McDonald's was unsuccessfully sued over a car accident in New Jersey. While driving, a man who had placed a milkshake between his legs, leaned over to reach into his bag of food and squeezed the milkshake container in the process. When the lid popped off and spilled half the drink in his lap, this driver became distracted and ran into another man's car. That man in turn tried to sue McDonald's for causing the accident, saying the restaurant should have cautioned the man who had hit him against eating while driving.

Hoax version

The "Stella" Awards rank up there with the Darwin awards. Stella Liebeck is the 81 year old lady who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's instead of accepting their $20,000 offer. (Note: in the factual version of this story, McDonald's refused Stella's $20,000 settlement offer and took her to court instead. After losing the case and being called reckless and callous in court, McDonald's started serving coffee at drinking temperature rather than skin-burning temperature.)

This case inspired an annual award -- The "Stella Award" -- for the most frivolous lawsuits in the U.S. The following are among the leading award candidates:

1. January 2000: Kathleen Robertson of Austin Texas was awarded $780,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle by tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably upset at the verdict, considering it was Ms. Robertson's son that she tripped over. Fabricated.

2. June 1998: 19 year old Carl Truman of Los Angeles, won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently didn't notice that there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps. Fabricated.

3. October 1998: A Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania was leaving a house he had just finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation. Mr. Dickson found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food. He sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of half a million dollars. Fabricated.

4. October 1999: Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbor's beagle. The beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced-in yard. The award was less than sought because the jury felt the dog might have been just a little provoked at the time by Mr. Williams, who was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun. Fabricated.

5. May 2000: A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her coccyx. The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson threw it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. Fabricated.

6. December 1997: Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a night club in a neighbouring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms Walton was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies' room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses. Fabricated.

(Number 7 used to be about a woman who put her dog in the microwave to dry. It reduced the credibility of the other fabrications, and it was deleted. The new number 7 is not much more credible.)

7. Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City. In November, 2000, Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand new 32 foot Winnebago motor home. On his first trip home, having motored onto the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly the Winnie left the freeway, crashed, and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising him in the handbook that he couldn't actually do this. He was awarded $1,750,000 plus a new Winnie. (Winnebago actually changed their handbooks as a result of this court case, just in case there are any other complete morons buying their vehicles). Fabricated.

See also: hoax discussion.