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Passions in Poetry

Stella Awards

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Balladeer
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0 posted 01-12-2005 06:26 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer


It's once again time to review the winners of the annual Stella Awards. The Stellas' are named after 81 year old Stella Liebeck who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's.

That case inspired the Stella Awards for the most frivolous successful lawsuits in the United States. Unfortunately the most recent lawsuit implicating McDonald's, the teens who allege that eating at McDonald's has made them fat, was filed after the 2003 award voting was closed. This suit will top the 2004 awards list without question.

   THIS YEAR'S AWARDS GO TO ...
   5TH PLACE (TIED):
Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $780,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving toddler was Ms. Robertson's Son.

   5TH PLACE (TIED):
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 did not notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal the hubcaps.

   5TH PLACE (TIED):
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 could not re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and
garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation and Mr. Dickson found himself locked in the garage for 8 days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found and a large bag of dry dog food. He sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The Jury agreed to the tune of $500,000.

   4TH PLACE:
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 dog. The Beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. The award was less than sought because the jury felt the dog might have been a little provoked at the time as Mr. Williams, who had climbed over the fence into the yard, was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.

   3RD PLACE:
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 (tailbone). The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier, during an argument.

   2ND PLACE:
Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a Night Club in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out two of her front teeth. This occurred while Ms. Walton was trying to sneak in the window of the Ladies Room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.

   1ST PLACE:
This year's runaway winner was Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand new Winnebago Motorhome. On his trip home from an OU football game, having driven onto the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly the RV left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued

Winnebago for not advising him in the owner's manual that he could not actually do this.
The jury awarded him $1,750,000 plus a new Winnebago Motorhome. The company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit just in case there were any other complete morons buying their recreational vehicles.

Somebody wanna tell me the inmates are not running the asylum???
Poet deVine
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1 posted 01-12-2005 06:38 PM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine


The lawsuits are stupid. The jury are morons for the verdict and awards.

Geesh!

I think I'm going to sue the local meterologist for hurricane damage!
Alicat
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2 posted 01-12-2005 06:47 PM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

Some very helpful lessons here to get rich quick off another's dime.

1) Have a low IQ and/or complete lack of common sense.

2) Have a good unethical lawyer.

3) Break the law and sue when the consequences occur.

Just shaking my head here, especially at the Captain Crisco squad who sued and won for eating fatty foods and (gasp) getting fat.  Any bets that the award money will be spent on junk food and reckless recreation?
serenity blaze
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3 posted 01-12-2005 06:47 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze



just incredible Mike
Aenimal
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4 posted 01-12-2005 06:55 PM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

'and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That's democracy for you.'

Mr. Burns (the Simpsons)
Christopher
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5 posted 01-12-2005 07:59 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

quote:
Somebody wanna tell me the inmates are not running the asylum???
This implies that said looneys (technical term) are locked up away from the sane people.

I'm thinking not.

Ridiculous. This brings to mind a recent report on NPR that mentioned a Romanian lawyer who is attempting to claim ownership of all the clouds in the sky - his professed intention being to sue industrial companies for the pollution they put into [his] clouds.

And people say death by hanging was barbaric...
Alicat
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6 posted 01-12-2005 08:15 PM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

Guess they ain't never been sued by an alligator grinnin lawyer with a hefty slice of the pie on the horizon.
Ron
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7 posted 01-12-2005 11:58 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Sigh.

When I opened this thread, I had never heard of these so-called Stella Awards, but I was passingly familiar with the Stella Liebeck case.

From 1982 to 1992, more than 700 people were burned by McDonald's coffee with varying degrees of severity, and many of the incidents resulted in law suits. Why? The coffee you and I make at home typically runs from 135 to 140 degrees F. The McDonald's company actively enforced a requirement in all stores that coffee be held in the pot at 185 degrees, plus or minus five. In spite of a decade of often serious accidents, the corporation testified they had no intention of changing their policies. Yet, their own quality assurance manger testified that a burn hazard exists with any food substance served at 140 or above and McDonald's coffee "was not fit for consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat." Further testimony from experts demonstrated that liquids at 180 degrees will cause third degree burns in only two to seven seconds, and further, the burn relative to temperature decreases exponentially. In other words, if Liebeck's coffee had been only 155 degrees, still hotter than you and I drink it, the liquid would have taken over 20 seconds to produce the same burns and most likely would have cooled and given her time to avoid the serious third-degree burns she received.

And it WAS serious. The 79-year-old woman was hospitalized for eight days, during which time she underwent skin grafting and debridement treatments (surgical removal of tissue). She then faced two more years of treatment.

Of course, that's where Stella's greed kicked into high gear, right?

Wrong. She initially offered to settle the claim for $20,000, enough to cover her medical expenses. McDonald's reportedly offered her $800. The jury eventually awarded Stella $200,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $2.7 million in punitive damages. Those numbers were later reduced by the judge to $160,000 and $480,000 respectively, for a total of $640,000. We'll never know, however, what the old woman actually received because McDonald's, rather than appealing, entered into secret negotiations and came to a settlement.

Knowing that the Stella Liebeck case was NOT the frivolous thing so many would like to believe it was, I half-way expected a little research would expose these Stella Award cases to be more of the same. I figured, once again, we were only being told a small part of the real story.

I was wrong.

What I discovered, instead, is that every single one of these cases, which have apparently been floating around the Internet verbatim since 2001, are completely and wholly fictitious. It's just one more of many such Urban Legends.

Seems to me the inmates really are running the asylum. The real question is, WHO are the inmates?
SEA
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8 posted 01-13-2005 12:09 AM       View Profile for SEA   Email SEA   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for SEA

the one about the dog makes me the maddest. I can't say what I would do(to that person) if someone did that to one of my dogs....
Aenimal
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9 posted 01-13-2005 12:16 AM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

thanks for the info Ron, have to admit i've often made jokes and references to her without ever having heard the whole truth. now i know. and feel like crap
Christopher
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10 posted 01-13-2005 01:11 AM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

well if you're going to actually do some research!
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_1235605.html?menu=news.quirkies
http://www.countrywatch.com/@school/as_wire.asp?vCOUNTRY=142&UID=1344321
Alicat
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11 posted 01-13-2005 10:00 AM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

Well Ron, in the case with Stella, it wasn't until after the lawsuit that it became known that she had removed the lid, performed her alchemy, put the lid back on, and placed it on her dashboard.  She didn't put the lid back on tightly, and put it on her dashboard.  When she jerked forward, physics took over.

Guess you can't sue the universe for physics...
Ron
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12 posted 01-13-2005 11:05 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Not sure where you heard that, Ali, but personally I'd likely chalk it up to more of the same balderdash, if only perhaps because there's so much of it. Her burns were very consistent with the coffee being held between her knees when it was spilled. In either case, however, one generally doesn't expect their coffee to be hotter than the water in their radiator. While no one should invite coffee burns, our preventative measures are dictated by a presumption of serious discomfort, not serious, disfiguring injury.

More importantly from a legal standpoint, McDonald's knew their product was potentially dangerous. They had paid off scores of people in the last decade without ever addressing the underlying problem. They needed a wake-up call and the jury gave them one. Want to bet their policies have since changed? That's the function, and the importance, of punitive damages.
Alicat
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13 posted 01-13-2005 11:37 AM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

In part, I'll agree Ron.  That part being that some of the successful, and even a handful of the unsuccessful, lawsuits actually brought about positive change in corporate activities.  McDonalds and other fast food industries all lowered the temperature for their coffees, much to the chagrin of the rest of their clientel who rilied on piping hot coffee to still be hot once they got through the gridlock and into their offices.

One can easily and readily hear and read about all the other lawsuits who's root basis is illegal activity.  If someone is breaking into your house, and you shoot them in the leg that is inside the house (or otherwise damage any body part that is inside the house), and you let them live, you will most likely be sued by the criminal for pain and suffering, loss of wages, and the infamous punitive damages and emotional distress.  And rarely will the cards be stacked in your favor.

Of course, and this I'm more than willing to admit, I haven't studied tort law, and have never been sued or have taken active/passive part in any lawsuit.  So I'm an outsider looking in.
Ron
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14 posted 01-13-2005 03:17 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
... much to the chagrin of the rest of their clientel who rilied on piping hot coffee to still be hot once they got through the gridlock and into their offices.

Coincidentally, Ali, the "keep it hot while getting it to the office" defense was a point McDonald's raised in the trial. Unfortunately for them, their own market research indicated the vast majority of their customers drink the coffee in their cars.

Yes, there are still frivolous and, even, unconscionable law suits. If you followed the link in my earlier post to the Urban Legends site, they even list a number of real (not bogus) examples. Every single one they list, however, was successfully defeated or dismissed out of hand. Contrary to what people want to believe, judges generally aren't stupid people.

IMO, trying to stop the relatively few cases that make the news and raise everyone's dander inevitably creates far greater dangers than it eliminates. Every potential solution I've seen, from capping damages to making the loser pay all legal costs, tends to privilege the haves over the have-nots. Tort reform isn't a bad idea, but it can only work if we find a way to do it without silencing the poor in the process. Unfortunately, any system that guarantees everyone is entitled to their day in court seems to include not only the poor and disadvantaged, but also the bums and insufferably greedy. Justice, it seems, always comes with a price.
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15 posted 01-13-2005 03:42 PM       View Profile for Cloud 9   Email Cloud 9   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Cloud 9

LOL!! The beagle part cracks me up. How much damage can a beagle do??? We had a beagle for 17 years, bless his heart may he rest in peace. He was such a goofy dog. He sounded mean then when you actually got to the fence, he'd lick you and want to play. Of course, the part of the guy shooting at him isn't funny.
JoshG
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16 posted 01-13-2005 03:45 PM       View Profile for JoshG   Email JoshG   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for JoshG

Yes, I have to concur that whether they are true or not, these stories are great over a family dinner or group gathering.  I good laugh when delivered properly.
Sunshine
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17 posted 01-13-2005 03:51 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

Before I saw this post, it is interesting that on this same related subject [inane lawsuits], I was speaking to a physician yesterday...

Several years ago, this doctor's sister was involved in a fatality.  She was just 21, and had begged her father to drive his little MG, which he had long tagged "a death trap waiting to happen."  

It was 1:00 a.m. and the young lady was driving her inebriated girlfriend home. They had been visiting a residence "out in the sticks" and as this was several years ago, there were very few "country lights" available, so it was as dark as dark can be in the middle of Kansas.  She had come to the crossroads and had stopped.  She saw a car approaching, but could not gauge the speed, and proceeded to cross.

She was broadsided by a state patrol officer going over 100 mph, but with no toplights in action, only his headlights were on.

The two girls were killed instantly.  I won't go into the gorier details that the physician/brother went into.  Suffice to say, one would think the officer was at fault, who limped away with a broken leg.

No.

His eye-witness testimony was that the young girl had never stopped at the sign.  As he was on a "high speed emergency call", he most certainly had the right of way.  There was no one to contradict him, so his testimony stood.

But to top it off, his leg injury was such that he could never work again as a patrol officer - so he sued the deceased girl's parents' insurance company for the loss of his job.

And he won.

Sigh.

And this is NOT an urban legend.
*Alli4000*
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18 posted 01-13-2005 07:52 PM       View Profile for *Alli4000*   Email *Alli4000*   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for *Alli4000*

Are you sure that the juries were sane?!?
Ron
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19 posted 01-13-2005 08:14 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
She had come to the crossroads and had stopped.  She saw a car approaching, but could not gauge the speed, and proceeded to cross.

If I read these lines in a short story, Karilea, the editor in me would have to question the writer's choice for point-of-view. The credibility, after all, is a bit tenuous when the POV character either (a) can't possibly know what is being revealed, or (b) can't possibly narrate what is being revealed because, uh, they're both dead.

Urban legend? Or, perhaps, a ghost story?
Sunshine
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20 posted 01-13-2005 08:40 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

quote:
I was speaking to a physician yesterday...

Several years ago, this doctor's sister


No, Ron.

Based on the various "small town" police records, past driving skills known to family and friends, the fact that the driver/[sister of physican] was not intoxicated [as she had been in company with family/friends the full evening], she would not have transgressed from normal driving habits.  

It was, in actuality, an "accident".  That the officer took advantage of it, is the aberration.  He was supposedly on a high speed emergency run.  Why weren't his lights on?  Perhaps because he had just gotten the call?  He was on the back country roads - 1:00 a.m. in the morning...who was going to be in his way?  Could it be, he was about to click them on, wasn't paying attention, and there was the other vehicle?

All of these things could have come into play, I agree.  However, what upsets me most is - he is alive, walking, and could possibly get a job anywhere else in the world...and two young girls are dead.

The officer took advantage of a terrible tragedy...and THAT, Ron, is what I find inconceivable.  

No, this is not a ghost story.  It is the story of a friend/physician who happened to open up to me with some other questions about family ties, tiers and structures.  

It is a very true story.  One that my friend has yet to understand.

Ron
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21 posted 01-13-2005 10:09 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

It is, indeed, a tragedy, Kari. Any needless death always is. I'm just not sure it's fair to blame a survivor simply because they did survive.

Even if we assume the deductions are merited, I don't see where it changes the obvious. A car goes through a stop sign and into the path of an oncoming vehicle -- does it matter whether the car first stopped or not? The car could have sat at the stop sign for twenty minutes or two days, it STILL pulled out when it shouldn't have. Nor does it matter that the on-coming vehicle was a police car running without its emergency lights. You or I would have also had the right-of-way. It's terrible that two young girls died, but it's no less terrible that someone else was injured for life.

I don't know how bad the guy was hurt, I have no idea how much compensation he received, and I certainly won't pretend to argue that justice was necessarily served. I don't know, because I can't know. What I do know is that the story is seldom as simple as most would like and is almost invariably colored by the observer's emotions and biases. I'm sure your friend will never understand, and I don't for one moment think that's a fault in any brother. It is, however, why he certainly couldn't sit on the jury hearing the case. We don't expect him to be impartial, which is exactly why we have to look beyond his telling of the tale. I grieve for every bereaved brother, Karilea, but my trust tends to lie with the judge and jury.
Balladeer
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22 posted 01-13-2005 11:23 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Ron, if your trust lies with the judge and jury then I have a sincere question. There has been plenty of reason to suggest that, at some level, lawsuits can be little more than a confidence game. I have read where, back in the 40's, lawyers would use the threat of lawsuits to basically extort money. Example:

Mr. Jones, we're going to sue you for injuring my client in an accident last Friday.

..but I was in Phoenix last Friday!

Maybe so but you'll have to hire a lawyer, waste days of work sitting in court,pay costs  to prove it....or you can give us $200.00 and we'll let it go.

I feel fairly certain this has happened and is probably still happening. WHen the conversation comes up about the loser paying the response seems to be "No, that would favor the rich", as you did. I wish someone could explain to me how that favors the rich. If a down-and-out pauper goes to a lawyer with a claim that the lawyer is certain he can win, then it makes no difference how affluent the claimant was. How does that favor the rich then? What it does do is to eliminate many of the frivolous lawsuits. RIght now lawyers convince the clients "Let's sue. What is there to lose?" If they had to pay the costs, there would indeed be something to lose. Why wouldn't that be the fairest way? If I sue you and you are innocent, why should it have to cost you? Do you feel that's right? There was a ladder manufacturer on 60 Minutes who claimed he got sued over 200 times a year, even though he had 17 stickers on his ladders, warning buyers of all kinds of things to watch out for. Still he continued to get sued. He settle on most of the claims because he could not afford to go to court on all of them to defend himself. It would have bankrupted him. You consider that fair?  The only reason I could possible imagine an advocate against loser paying is one who does not believe in the system but since you state you put your trust in Judge and jury, please explain to me why our current system is better that loser picking up the tab for filing the lawsuit....
Balladeer
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23 posted 01-15-2005 11:27 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

paging anyone who can explain that to me...
Sunshine
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24 posted 01-15-2005 11:49 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine


I think that sometimes the problem lies with the very area I work in, and in a lot of ways, that irritates the bejeebers out of me.  Now, from my viewpoint, I see the folks I actually work with trying to make things EASIER and even THEY complain of the injustices they see in the "justice" system.

And believe me, I've seen a few of them try to right, or at least square, some of the very laws we all complain of.

It seems "simplicity" is lacking overall.  We are, overall, too much of a ME world anymore.  We don't look out for the other fellow.  We pretty much say, as a nation, "don't ask me to help you - I've got enough on my own plate."

The land of folk who would gather together to raise a barn is fairly extinct in our world today.  What a shame.  But even the owner of the burnt barn wouldn't ask his neighbors to come help - what would happen if one of them stepped on an old nail, or fell from the scaffolding while "voluntarily assisting" to raise a new barn?

No, instead, we hire strangers who don't really take a lot of pride in their work, but by God, they're bonded and insured...and we pay out the nose, one way or the other.

Tonight I had dinner with some long-time, great friends, who do a lot of mental work with their heads.  You know what I kept hearing?

How America needs to get back to the simple things.  We're not a lot of old fogies by a long shot...we are all active, productive, middle-aged people, true...

and we just happen to be standing on the other side of 50.  But the way I see it, some of us have another 25-40 years of doing things just so, that we still have "changing power" in the way we vote, how we decide to make purchases; and know when to raise our voices.

I think our voices need to get a bit louder, in order to begin squelching such things as the Stella Awards.

What do you say, Mike?
 
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