Hey, didja hear the one about the guy who put his Winnebago on cruise control, got up to make a sandwich, wrecked (duh!), and sued the manufacturer and dealer for not telling him that cruise control doesn't steer for you? Better yet, that he WON? He's related to the woman who won a settlement from the bar where broke her tailbone in a slip-and-fall (slipping on the drink she herself had just thrown at her boyfriend). Also part of the family: the house burglar who was trapped in a garage for eight days, the woman who tripped over her own toddler in a furniture store and broke her leg, and the guy whose hand was run over by the driver of the Honda whose hubcap he was in the process of stealing. All sued the other related parties in their misadventures; all won an award or settlement.
The other way they're all related: Every single one is FALSE. Urban legends. No truth to them whatsoever.
A few years ago, a guy named Randy had the thought (or suggestion from a friend--I can't remember) that it was a bit counter-productive, maybe even intellectually dishonest, to illuminate the ridiculous extremes of our tort system with invented stories. Surely there had to be actual cases out there just as ridiculous as the old stand-bys!
Turns out there were--but most of them were a little too complicated to boil down into a tasty little two-sentence nugget of entertainment. Randy decided to go ahead with research and publication of cases and distributes them as they come up in a free email newsletter named after Stella Liebeck, the McDonald's coffee-in-the-lap lady.
BTW, did you know that when the late Mrs. Liebeck spilled said coffee, her grandson (who was driving) had pulled over and parked at the side of the road? That the jury reduced her initial $200,000 compensatory damage award by 20 % because they found her 20% at fault? And after the jury's initial $2.7 million punitive damage award, a judge reduced it to $480,000? The best part is that Liebeck and McDonald's settled secretly rather than go to appeal--nobody knows how much McD's eventually paid.
Strike a blow for truth--check out the True Stella Awards website. I have had subscriptions to several of Randy's email publications continuously since 1999 and have been entertained the whole time. Randy is also one of the most vocal anti-spam crusaders I know--your email is totally safe with him.
Truth really is stranger than fiction.