04 February, 2012

Mystery Musing: The World is Full of Potential Plots

People often ask me where I find my plots.  Was I born with a criminal penchant or do they come to me in my sleep?  The answer is neither.  The world around us is full of potential plots -- I have a folder full of newspaper clippings, jotted notes, and Internet printouts of facts, anecdotes, and research. 

For example. the the Stella Awards were recently announced.  This particular award was named in honour of 79-year-old Stella Liebeck whom in 1992,  spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's  where she purchased coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right?   Yet she was awarded $2.9 million in damages.  Since then the Stella has been awarded to wild, outrageous, or ridiculous lawsuits.

Here are the Stellas for 2011!

SEVENTH PLACE: Kathleen Robertson of Austin, TX was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son

SIXTH PLACE: Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles  won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.

FIFTH PLACE: Terrence Dickson, of Bristol , PA, who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count 'em, EIGHT days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental Anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish.

FOURTH PLACE: Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.

THIRD PLACE:  A jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, PA, $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.

SECOND PLACE: Kara Walton, of Claymont, DE sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000..

And...DRUM ROLL... in FIRST PLACE: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, OK, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The  jury awarded her $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home.  NOTE: Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

Yes folks, fact is better than fiction, but I reserved the right to incorporate fact into my fiction!

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