Sometimes the law gives us something to laugh about, not least when it involves a frankly absurd judgement on a case. Take the case of Carl Truman, a 19 year old from Los Angeles, who was awarded $19,000 damages after a neighbour ran over his hand in a Honda. Truman was, at the time, in the process of stealing the hubcaps. Then there’s Amber Carson, awarded over $100,000 in damages after slipping on a drink on the floor in a cafe and breaking a bone – the very drink that she had thrown at her boyfriend just seconds before.
The Trapped Burglar
A favourite we have come across is the case of Terence Dickinson, who decided to burgle a house in Bristol, Pennsylvania. Leaving via the garage he found the garage door would not lift, and the door back into the house locked as he closed it. Worse for Dickinson was that the family was on holiday. He was trapped for eight days, survived on dog food and a handy case of Pepsi, and successfully sued for the mental anguish his captivity had caused him. The sheer cheek of the man in actually taking the case to court has to be admired!
Like many a young lady, Kara Walton of Claremont, Delaware, attempted to avoid a $3.50 entry charge to a nightclub by climbing in through the bathroom window. Unseated, she fell in ungainly fashion to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. Miss Walton duly sued the club for damages and, amazingly, was awarded $12,000 damages and full costs for the necessary dental treatment she endured.
Forcing a Change
Perhaps the most famous of all recent cases is one that actually forced a manufacturer of motor homes to change its
operator manuals. Bear in mind that this is not urban legend. Mrs Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, was lucky enough to be able to afford a 32 foot Winnebago. These magnificent beasts are coveted the world over, and are very capable machines. Now, Mrs Grazinski clearly had her head screwed on when, with the cruise control set to a sensible speed, she headed to the kitchen area to make a sandwich. Of course, the inevitable happened: the Winnebago could not steer itself, crashed and overturned. Mrs Grazinski successfully sued Winnebago on the grounds that the user manual had not warned her that she could not do what she had. She was awarded $1,750,000 and a new motor home.