Sometimes you turn on the news and hear about a lawsuit that's so unbelievable it makes you do a double take. Being in the legal profession, we can tell you that there are many unique and – ahem – interesting cases out there.
So we decided to take a look at some of the more odd cases that have existed in recent memory. We're sure you've probably heard – or maybe even seen – some of these headlines in recent years.
While at first some lawsuits can look far-fetched and ridiculous, many products would never be improved – and important safety regulations would never be upheld – if it weren't for the legal system.
This case is probably one of the most well known cases in history. Stella Liebeck, 79, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, sued McDonald's for their coffee being too hot and causing serious burns.
From the outside, this case seemed ridiculous to many. However, that misconception often stems from the thought that Stella was driving when she spilled her coffee. In truth, she had parked her car and was attempting to put cream and sugar in her cup. It spilled and caused severe burns.
She spent several days in the hospital with burns on her thighs, legs, and crotch. When she contacted McDonald's about the incident, they took her to court. Eventually she was awarded $160,000 in compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages. The latter amount was reduced after both parties appealed the decision. They settled for an undisclosed amount, and McDonald's added a warning label to their coffee cups.
In Duluth, Minnesota, a prankster filled Canal Park's Fountain filled with bubbles. Kathy Kelly slipped and cut her knee, which became infected due to her diabetes. The city was ordered to pay $43,000 in medical expenses.
As it turns out, the city had been alerted to the prank nearly 4 hours before Kathy Kelly slipped. The court found the city negligent and ordered them to pay.
Two teens were awarded $24.2 million after trespassing on private property. In Lancaster, PA, two teenage skateboarders climbed atop a parked railcar stationed in a railroad yard owned by Amtrak.
While standing on top of the railcar, one teen suffered severe burns from an uninsulated wire that hung above the train. The other teen was burned when he tried to put the fires out on his friend's clothing.
This might be one of the oldest gags in comedy history. Slipping on a banana peel left behind by some unwitting litterbug. Have you wondered if anyone has actually been injured from slipping on a banana peel? Surely this gag must have started somewhere.
In New York City in the 19th century, bananas were imported from Panama and had become a public staple. However, the city didn't have a proper sanitation system like they do today. So people would haphazardly discard their banana peels on the street when they were done eating.
While a fresh banana's peel isn't terribly slick, one that has been rotting in the sun for a few days becomes slimy and slippery. A rotten banana, coupled with shoes that lacked any tread (such as those from the 1800s), can become a potentially dangerous hazard. It was so much of an issue that Sunday school teachers told their students that discarded banana peels wouldn't only injure people, but it'd send them to the poor house as well.
In fact, in 2010 a California woman claimed to have fallen on a banana peel in a 99 Cent store. She sued the store for her medical costs but refused their $44,000 settlement offer.
After reading about these odd cases, one thing is certain – each and every legal issue is unique in its own way. That's why, if you're ever injured in an accident, you should contact an attorney to get a professional opinion on your legal matter.
Our consultations are always free, and we're standing by 24/7 to help answer your legal questions.