The Stella Awards are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck, who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonalds. Stella Awards are given out each year for the most frivolous successful lawsuits in the U.S. However, there’s a twist: for some reason, both real and fake Stellas are announced annually, and we present both lists here. The true Stellas have their own website. Keep reading to find out what really happened in U.S. law courts in 2002.

The website states: “Unlike the FAKE cases that have been highly circulated online for the last several years (see http://www.StellaAwards.com/bogus.html for details), the following cases have been researched from public sources and are confirmed TRUE by the ONLY legitimate source for the Stella Awards: www.StellaAwards.com. To confirm this copy is legitimate, see http://www.StellaAwards.com/2002.html.”

#7: Attorney Philip Shafer of Ashland, Ohio, flew on Delta Airlines from New Orleans to Cincinnati and was given a seat, he says, next to a fat man. “He was a huge man,” Shafer says. “He and I [were] literally and figuratively married from the right kneecap to the shoulder for two hours.” He therefore “suffered embarrassment, severe discomfort,mental anguish and severe emotional distress,” he claims in a lawsuit against the airline. Shafer figures this embarrassment, discomfort, mental anguish and emotional distress could be cured by a $9,500 payment from Delta. If Shafer isn’t careful, that might be dwarfed by the divorce settlement his “huge” (seat)mate might demand.

#6: “The Godfather of Soul” James Brown has a “grudge” against his daughters Deanna Brown Thomas and Yamma Brown Lumar, they allege. They say Brown “vowed to the media that his daughters will never get a dime from him” and “James Brown has kept his word.” So they have done what any kid would do when cut off from their rich daddy’s bank account: they sued him for more than $1 million, claiming that they are owed royalties on 25 of his songs which, they say, they helped him write even though, at the time, they were children. For instance, when Brown’s 1976 hit “Get Up Offa That Thing” was a chart-topper, thegirls were aged 3 and 6. It’s enough to make Brown switch to the Blues.

#5: Utah prison inmate Robert Paul Rice, serving 1-15 years on multiple felonies, sued the Utah Department of Corrections claiming the prison was not letting him practice his religion: “Druidic Vampire”. Rice claimed that to do that, he must be allowed sexual access to a “vampress”. In addition, the prison isn’t supplying his specific “vampiric dietary needs” (yes: blood). Records show that Rice registered as a Catholic when he was imprisoned in 2000. “Without any question we do not have conjugal visits in Utah,” said a prisonspokesman when the suit was thrown out. Which just goes to prove prison life sucks.

#4: Every time you visit your doctor, you’re told the same old things: eat less, exercise more, stop smoking. Do you listen? Neither did Kathleen Ann McCormick. The obese, cigarette-smoking woman from Wilkes-Barre, Penn., had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a family history of coronary artery disease. Yet doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center “did not do enough” to convince her to work to improve her own health. Unsurprisingly, shehad a heart attack which, she says in a federal lawsuit, left her a “cardiac invalid”. In addition to eight doctors, she’s suing their employer — the U.S. government — demanding a minimum of $1 million in compensation.

#3: In 1997 Bob Craft, then 39, of Hot Springs, Montana, changed his name to Jack Ass. Now, he says that MTV’s TV show and movie “Jackass” was “plagiarized” from him, infringes his trademarks and copyrights, and that this has demeaned, denigrated and damaged his public image. No attorney would take the case, so he has filed suit on his own againstMTV’s corporate parent, demanding $50 million in damages. If nothing else, Jack Ass has proved he chose his name well.

#2: Hazel Norton of Rolling Fork, Miss., read there was a class action suit against the drug Propulsid, which her doctor had prescribed to her for a digestive disorder. Despite admitting that “I didn’t get hurt by Propulsid,” Norton thought “I might get a couple of thousand dollars” by joining the lawsuit. When her doctor was named in the suit, he quit his Mississippi practice — where he was serving thepoor. He left with his wife, a pediatrician and internist. That left only two doctors practicing at the local hospital. So while Norton wasn’t harmed by the drug, all her neighbors now get to suffer from drastically reduced access to medical care because of her greed.

AND THE WINNER of the 2002 True Stella Awards: sisters Janice Bird, Dayle Bird Edgmon and Kim Bird Moran sued their mother’s doctors and a hospital after Janice accompanied her mother, Nita Bird, to a minor medical procedure. When something went wrong, Janice and Dayle witnessed doctors rushing their mother to emergency surgery. Ratherthan malpractice, their legal fight centered on the “negligentinfliction of emotional distress” — not for causing distress to their mother, but for causing distress to THEM for having to SEE the doctors rushing to help their mother. The case was fought all the way to the California Supreme Court, which finally ruled against the women. Which is a good thing, since if they had prevailed doctors and hospitals would have had no choice but to keep YOU from being anywhere near yourfamily members during medical procedures just in case something goes wrong. In their greed, the Bird sisters risked everyone’s right to have family members with them in emergencies.

The following are the fake Stella Awards:

#1: 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 understandablysurprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving little toddler was Ms. Robertson’s son.

#2: A 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 there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hub caps.

#3: 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 andgarage 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 mentalanguish. The jury agreed to the tune of $500,000.

#4: 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 yard. The award wasless 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.

#5: 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 hadthrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.

#6: Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a night club in a neighboring 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 avoidpaying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.

#7: This year’s favorite could easily be Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On his first trip home, having driven onto the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers seat to go into theback and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly, the R.V. left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising him in the owner’s manual that he couldn’t actually do this.

The jury awarded him $1,750,000 plus a new motor home. The company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit, just in case there were any other complete morons buying their recreation vehicles.

Is truth stranger than fiction? You decide. And don’t miss Loren Coleman talking about the legend?and the reality?of Bigfoot on this week’s Dreamland.

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