Miss Communication


Time again for our monthly exploration of when communication and reason go horribly wrong.

In our past segments, we beat up lawyers pretty bad.  Wipe that smile off your faces, though, because here’s what you do when you get involved in the legal process as a juror…

(Culled from the Stella Awards, named in honor of the woman who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald’s)

In Austin, Texas, a woman 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 little toddler was the woman’s own son.


A 19-year old man of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord.  The 19-year old apparently didn’t notice someone was at the wheel while he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps.


You’ll like this one:  In Bristol, Pennsylvania, a man had just finished robbing a house and was leaving by way of the garage.  He wasn’t able to get the garage door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning.  He couldn’t reenter the house, either, because the door connecting the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut.  The family he was robbing was on vacation and the poor burglar was locked in the garage for eight days.  He subsisted on Pepsi he found in the garage and a large bag of dry dog food.  He sued the homeowner’s insurance claiming the situation caused him mental anguish.  The jury mystifyingly agreed to the tune of $500,000.


It’s dog-eat-dog in Little Rock, Arkansas, at least for a man who was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbor’s beagle. The offending dog was on a chain in the neighbor’s fenced yard.  The award was less than he sought because the jury felt the beagle might have been just a little provoked at the time seeing as the man was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.


A Philadelphia restaurant owner was ordered to pay a woman from Lancaster, Pennsylvania $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her coccyx (tailbone).  The beverage was on the floor because the woman had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.


Another savvy lady, this time from Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a nightclub in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth.  This occurred while she was trying to sneak in through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge.  In sympathy, the jury awarded her $12,000 and dental expenses.


Finally, what could be the grand prize winner  of decisions without a shred of rationality.  A man from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma purchased a 32 foot Winnebago motor home.  On his first trip home, having driven onto the freeway, he set the cruise control for 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee.  Not surprisingly (to anyone other than the man and the jury), the RV left the freeway, crashed and overturned.  The man sued Winnebago for not advising him in the owner’s manual that (wait for it) he couldn’t actually leave the wheel while the van was moving.  The outraged jury awarded him (wait for it) $1,750,000 plus (wait for it) a new motor home!  The company actually changed their manuals on the basis of the suit (presumably in case there were any other amazingly stupid people planning to buy one of their motor homes, for example, one of the jury members).


Too stupid to be true?  You be the judge.  Just don’t be part of the jury.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)