The Stella Awards

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The Stella Awards

Time once again to review the winners of the Annual "Stella Awards".

The Stella Awards are named after 81 year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonalds (in NM).
That case inspired the Stella Awards for the most frivolous, ridiculous, successful lawsuits in the United States.

Here are this year's winners:

5th Place (tie a): Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $80,000 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 little toddler was Ms. Robertson's son.

5th Place (tie b): 19-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won 74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbour ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbour's hubcaps.

5th Place (tie c): 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, and 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 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 $14,500and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next Door neighbour's beagle. 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 just a little provoked at the time by Mr Williams who had climbed over the fence into the yard and 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, successfully sued the owner of a nightclub 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.

1st Place: This year's runaway winner was Mrs Mere Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mrs Grazinski purchased a brand new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, (from an OU football game), having driven onto the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and Calmly left the driver's seat to go into the back and make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the RV left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mrs Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising her in the owner's Manual that she could not actually do this. The jury awarded her $1,750,000 plus a new motor home. The company actually changed its manuals on the basis of this suit, just in case there are any other complete morons around.


First Grader
Is there anywahere you can look to verify these law suits? I would be very interested to see if they are for real. Actually, my work week has unnoficially ended and I will start looking now.


First Grader
Well early into my research I have already discovered differences, some stories say Mrs Grazinski others state Mr Merv Grazinksi.


First Grader
Yeah its not the 3D I thought it was but it does sound like a great place to start. From

"Enter the QV building and you'll see it. Like a beacon in the night, a six hectolitre beer brewing plant rises twelve metres within a glass and steel viewing capsule. Aaaah, beer!

Three Degrees is not only the venue's name, but the correct temperature beer should be served at. Yes indeed, this place knows its beer. Not in a frenzied, happy hour jugs kind of way, but a more discerning, beer-to-suit your-mood and your meal kind of way. The 30 taps offer both exclusive inhouse brews and others to choose from. The staff are trained to recommend the right brew for you, and complement their knowledge with special touches like custom coasters and snap-chilled glasses. Ask about the Beer Flight or Beer Ambassador to try what's on offer and to learn about the whole brewing process.

Part of a breed of 'new-style' pubs (refer to Transport and Young and Jacksons for other examples), Three Degrees offers good food and drink in a contemporary space. Spanning over two levels, the bar / brewery / brasserie has chair-and-table seating and loungier spots in which to sample what's on the menu. Oh, and there's also a comprehensive wine and cocktail list for non-beer drinkers.

Function areas, including a boardroom will delight corporates and those wanting a soiree of any kind"


Journey Man
Sounds like a great place.

The lord nelson of meblourne i guess.

Was as the lord a couple of weeks ago for lunch, we had a group of 10 or so. The manager noticed we were looking for somwhere to sit and found us tables and got chairs brought down especialy for us. That what proper service should be. Great beer great food and great service.


Reserve Grader
Back on topic... I just wanted to point out that although the McDonalds case sounds like an 'only in America' type situation, the fact is that if I were in her case, I'd quite possibly sue, too.

During trial, managers from McDonalds basically said 'yes, we knew that the coffee was so hot it could cause 3rd degree burns, yes we have had over 700 complaints of burns from the coffee and no, we do not intend to reduce the temperature of the coffee'.

They even admitted that the coffee, as it is poured into the cup, was not fit for consumption due to the temperature. All things that they knew about but continued to do.

I agree that there's lots of dodgy lawsuits out there but I don't think that the coffee case is one of them...


Journey Man
Why dont you get a job for workcover narc.

Then you could travel from business to business and fine them all for supplying hot water for coffee consumption.


Also no more sizzling dishes from thai resuraunts.

Actually no more hot food sales - cant be hot because it could burn and cant be warm because of bacteria.

sounds like someone is jealous that you cant get anything hot enough to burn in canadia cause its too freakin cold


Reserve Grader
LOL: If only that were true Fluffy... this winter has been so mild that we're expecting +7 tomorrow.

The general expectation is that by February, there's a foot of frost and 2 metres of snow on the ground. If it wasn't for the storm the other day (which brought about 15cm) we would have still had just plain old grass.

But back to the story. I think, in reality, you made my point. You said: "fine them all for supplying hot water for coffee consumption".

The McDonalds quality assurance managers stated under oath that what they were selling was known to be NOT safe for consumption. Forget the sizzling dishes (because that's about the 'container' and not the food) and we're not just talking about hot food here.

Surely you have to agree that selling something 'for consumption' that can inflict third degree burns in as little as 2 seconds is not really right...

Canteen Worker

First Grader
The joke about that is now every second coffee place sells luke-warm coffee and I am having to aske them to heat it up. Every moron knows that coffee is hot! What do you do at home when you get a cuppa - boil the jug!!!!!


Reserve Grader
There's a few problems there, though, CW.

Firstly, when you're selling a product, it has to be fit for consumption. So you have to make a few considerations about that. Secondly, even after pouring your coffee at home, you get a few clues as to the temperature: how much steam is coming of it (especially if it is swirling around the top) as well as the temperature of the ceramic holding the coffee. With styrofoam and a plastic lid, you get neither.

Also I would like you point out that even though you boil the kettle, you don't drink the coffee from it straight away. You let it cool a bit. In fact, to guard against burns, you are recommended to keep your hot water system below 50C. So I'm going to guess you're not drinking your coffee at even 75C. McDonalds was serving at 85C.

Without the extra clues (visual and tactile) and with the fact that they had already received 700 complaints, I think it would be considered fairly irresponsible of them to not change what they were doing.

At the end of the day, this is the way I see it: even now, everyone knows that a hot coffee from McDonalds is fcuking hot. If ever I have to do it to myself, you have to take the lid off, give it a stir and still wait for what seems like forever. Guaranteed, the first time I try it, I near burn myself. Maybe it's the styrofoam that keeps the temperature, I don't know, but I do know it takes longer than normal for it to be 'drinkable'.

Now add the fact that they are selling it 'to go' and you have to be even more cautious.

The way those things stay warm, there's no reason it has to be that hot.

Now, everywhere selling you lukewarm coffee is a different argument altogether: making coffee that cold doesn't do the coffee justice in the first place.

All I can say is thank God for working from home. I have my Mr. Coffee speed brew that makes 6 cups of perfect coffee in 3 minutes and will keep it at the same temperature for hours if need be...


Journey Man
Narc the food in the sizzling container would also be to hot for consumption when it is first brought to your table. There is also a high chance of burns on the container that is not designed to be touched, thats why they have a wood placemat under them. I see no difference. What about a curling iron at a hairdressers. That can give 3rd degree burns (i know some one who reached for her phone and now has the scar to prove it) and has no sign of its temperature.

There are thousands of similar examples of possible burn hazzards and if you were to reduce the risk of that hazzard to the extent of the maccas cup of coffee then you would severly limit applications surrounding most of these.

Its just not practicle


Reserve Grader
Firstly, having worked in Asian restaurants myself for a number of years, I can guarantee you that although sizzling plates are extremely hot (and leave no blisters but instead extremely white skin), the food is no hotter than on a normal plate and I can't recall ever having heard of restaurant food causing third degree burns in 2 seconds of skin contact.

Curling irons and all that, fair enough. But at the end of the day, you can't help those situations: those temperatures are required for the task.

Imagine, then, that someone was able to show that curling irons are just as effective at 75% of their temperature, and that that reduction would reduce burns by a significant proportion. Do you think that OH&S wouldn't be all over that?

It's basically the same situation here: the temperature they were serving it at was overkill. They could have been a lot safer without a reduction in customer satisfaction and yet they chose to be negligent.


Kim Jong Dan
Staff member
Tipping Member
I agree with Narc.

He isnt saying that the person deserved to be rewarded money for being burnt, more that the company deserved to be fined for unsafe work practices that lead to the harm of others.

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