There are lawsuits that can be classed as frivolous and then there are those cases that go a step beyond. Some of these cases are so absurdly ridiculous that you just have to laugh when you hear the details. The amusing fact is that people will go to great lengths to make a million or two. Here are a few comical cases that you won’t believe.
1. The Coffee Conundrum
Perhaps one of the most publicized lawsuits in recent history was levied against McDonald’s restaurant in 1994. The accusation came from an elderly woman, Stella Lieback, who was burned by a coffee she purchased from the fast food chain. Originally, Lieback sought $20,000 in damages. And the hamburger giant did, in fact, serve coffee a few degrees hotter than the average brew. However, McDonald’s made a mistake by refusing to settle out of court. Lieback was eventually awarded $200,000 in compensatory damages but that amount was reduced to $160,000 because it was determined that she was 20% responsible for the incident. That’s not where it ended though. Eventually, Lieback received 2.7 million in punitive damages.
2. Thumbs Down
Newmark Realty and 40 Worth Associates was sued for negligence by a New York City claims examiner, Cedrick Makara. Apparently, Makara was using a bathroom that didn’t have a doorknob. He claims that when he tried to open the door to exit another patron pushed the door open at the same time, injuring his thumb. He also claimed that the injury was so serious that it cost him six months of missed work and that it required surgery. The jury sided with Makara and awarded him $3 million dollars as well as $750,000 for his wife.
3. It’s a Steal
Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania was a thief by trade. Upon burglarizing a house one particular evening he became trapped. Apparently, the garage door he attempted to use as an exit did not function properly. He then tried to escape through another door, but that one was faulty as well. Dickson was trapped in the house for eight days only eating dry dog food and Pepsi. Dickson sued the homeowners for much mental anguish. A jury awarded him $500,000 for his trouble.
Just because people will do almost anything to get a huge settlement doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. These cases are funny to hear about on the news but it’s important to remember that what is not reported is that ultra-frivolous cases don’t usually make it past the appeals process. And they can be costly affairs for the plaintiff.
Guest contributor Kevin Krist is a Houston personal injury attorney. A Doogie Howser of the law, Kevin has been practicing law since he was 22 years old and is known in his parts to be one of the best and brightest personal injury trial attorneys around. And he blogs at his Personal Injury Blog!
Post image via Shutterstock.