Most personal injury lawsuits involve damages you might expect – broken bones, lost or damaged property, loss of income, or medical bills. However, some courts see personal injury lawsuits that are a little bit different at times.
From poor weather predictions to surprise knives in your sandwich, here are eight of the strangest personal injury lawsuits that actually held up in court.
1. Bad Forecasting
Bad weather predictions can ruin a picnic or kill a ski trip but holding the weatherman responsible might be a reach. However, one Israeli woman did just that.
This woman sued a television station for stress and irreparable damage because of its inaccurate weather forecast. She had dressed in light clothing that day, thinking the weather would be clear. When it started to rain, she became sick, missing days of work and paying out of pocket for medication. She sued the station for $1,000 – and won.
2. Caution: Hot Coffee
On February 27, 1992, an elderly Albuquerque woman named Stella Liebeck visited a local McDonald’s for her morning cup of joe. When she placed her hot cup of coffee between her knees to stir in her cream of sugar, the hot contents spilled all over her lap.
Liebeck experienced severe burns to her thighs as a result. Her attorney argued McDonald’s brewed its coffee at much higher temperatures than its competitors, leading to unusual damage to Liebeck. The jury awarded her $640,000 in compensation for punitive damages and medical fees.
3. A Side of Stainless Steel
Subway is the go-to quick-stop for health-conscious individuals, making it the largest chain in the world. However, one customer’s Subway experience didn’t turn out the way he expected. He discovered a serrated sandwich knife baked into his sandwich bread. Luckily, he discovered the unexpected item before he bit into the sandwich.
The man did not suffer any cuts or other injuries from the knife, but he did claim the contaminated object caused him to get sick from another part of the sandwich. He sued Subway for $1 million – and walked away with $20,000.
Generally, it’s a person who files for a personal injury case, but Shadow, a neglected horse in Oregon, is suing his owners. His new owners have renamed him Justice, and their ambition in putting forth a lawsuit in his name is to ensure other owners don’t abuse or abandon their animals. The case has yet to be resolved.
5. The Redundant Phonebooth
Los Angeles custodian Charles Bigbee couldn’t know that by making a phone call, he was putting his life at risk. In this case, it was doubly true. Bigbee finished his shift for the night and went to a local phone booth to make a call. The phone booth sat between a liquor store and a busy street, putting Bigbee in a vulnerable position. While he was finishing up his call, a drunk driver swerved off the lane and plowed right into the phone booth.
Although Bigbee saw the car coming, he couldn’t open the booth to escape. He suffered life-changing injuries and could no longer work. Bigbee tried to collect damages from the driver’s insurance company and the bar, as per dram shop liability rules. However, the $25,000 he received was not enough to cover his hospital bills. In addition, he was losing income since he couldn’t work with his injuries. His lawyer discovered that another accident occurred at the same phone booth 20 months before Bigbee’s accident.
The other accident destroyed the phone booth, but the company erected another one in the same spot with a faulty entrance that trapped Bigbee inside. The company was fully aware of the dangers and still acted in negligence. Bigbee sued them and won an undisclosed settlement in 1986.
6. Color Contrast
A volunteer at the Manchester Airport in the United Kingdom sued for damages after she injured herself on the job. While volunteering for a sporting event, she entered one of the airport’s offices. She tripped over a door stop and injured her leg and arm. She argued that the door stop was the same color as the carpet, so she couldn’t see it. She received £6,000 in damages.
7. Stinky Feet
Personal hygiene is important – but can it mean expulsion from college? One Dutch university removed a student in 1999 because his feet smelled so bad that his peers and professors could not concentrate. After his Erasmus University expulsion, former philosophy student Teunis Tenbrook fought back. Erasmus reinstated Tenbrook as a student after a 10-year lawsuit.
8. I Can’t Believe It’s Not …
Could you tell the difference if your coffee shop used a butter substitute? Most people probably couldn’t – but Jan Polanik of Worcester, Massachusetts did. He sued Dunkin Donuts in 2017 for the mistake.
Polanik visited his local Dunkin’ Donuts shop and ordered a bagel with real butter, but he received a butter substitute. Polanik filed two lawsuits that accused more than 20 Dunkin’ franchises of using butter substitutes on his bagel when he specifically asked for real butter.
Polanik filed class-action lawsuits on behalf of any Dunkin’ patron who ordered a food item with butter and received fake butter instead. Polanik and the chain have since reached an undisclosed settlement.
The Las Vegas car accident and Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at Steve Dixon Law hope you find similar success in your personal injury lawsuit. Contact us today at (702) 329-4911 to schedule your free consultation.