When it comes to these bizarre and true personal injury lawsuits, the truth is stranger than fiction.
Bizarre and True Personal Injury Lawsuits | #1
MTV faced a $10 million lawsuit from James and Laurie Ann Ryan of Washington DC which claimed invasion of privacy, emotional distress and fraud. The US couple found what they thought was a dead body surrounded by blood on the bed in their hotel room as part of a set-up for MTV’s pilot series “Harrassment” which was hosted by Ashton Kutcher. The Ryan’s walked into their Las Vegas Hotel Room and found what appeared to be a murder victim covered in blood. The Ryan’s were then stopped by actors who pretended to be security guards, and not permitted to leave the room. The hoax was finally revealed when Ashton Kutcher, the co-producer and host of the show, appeared to tell the family that what they had just experienced was nothing more than a prank. The defense argued the case should be dropped because “Harassment” never aired. But attorneys for the Ryans argued that “Punk’d,” a virtually identical hidden-camera show, was the legal progeny of “Harassment” and that the suit should continue. As U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. was reviewing the case, Kutcher made the unexpected announcement in December that “Punk’d” was being canceled. “I find it highly coincidental that Kutcher announced that he would be ending ‘Punk’d’ despite it being the top-rated show in the MTV lineup,” observed Las Vegas attorney George Bochanis, legal analyst for KVVU Channel 5. “Was he distancing himself from the inevitable fallout of this case? You be the judge.”
Bizarre and True Personal Injury Lawsuits | # 2
A woman who claimed that a Wal-Mart ham fell on her head and caused her to develop epileptic seizures will not receive the $500,000 in damages she sought. A jury ruled that the company was not negligent in the way it hung the 13-pound ham. Jurors would not comment about the case or whether they believed the ham really fell on Suzanne Vasquez while she was shopping at the Cortez Road store in August 1997. Vasquez, 47, testified that she was leaning over a meat cooler, inspecting the country cured ham. She claimed the ham, weighing as much as a bowling ball, then fell on her head. Experts in geometry, engineering and physics were brought in to testify in the trial. Wal-Mart’s attorney Steven Sundook, claimed that Vasquez’s description of the incident defied the laws of gravity and physics.
“The ham was hanging on a hook, 5 feet above the ground, in the middle of a 6-foot-wide cooler. The ham would have fallen straight down and into the cooler, not on Vasquez’s head. The ham would have struck the 5-foot, 1-inch woman on the head only if she were in the middle of the cooler. There’s just so much about this vsdr that doesn’t make sense. The bottom line is that Wal-Mart did not cause a ham to fall on Mrs. Vasquez’s head. This case is about money.”
Vasquez’s attorney, Terence Matthews, argued that she was leaning over the cooler and checking the price from underneath the ham. Vasquez’s husband was the only witness to the event. Wal-Mart officials offered Vasquez $75,000 to settle the case, but she turned them down.
Bizarre and True Personal Injury Lawsuits | #3
Ruth McHenry, the plaintiff, ate at Longhorn Steak and was seated in a dimly lit area in a booth on a raised platform above the main dining room. After the meal, Ruth McHenry slipped on a peanut shell on the floor beneath her table and broke her leg. During the dinner, the defendants provided baskets of peanuts for customers to shell and eat. The McHenry family ate some peanuts, placing the shells in the basket. Their waitress saw the shells in the basket and threw them on the floor away from where they were seated and told them to throw the shells on the floor. Longhorn Steakhouse’s practice of throwing peanut shells on the floor created a dangerous condition by its employees and encouraging the customers to do the same. The plaintiff claimed that she never saw peanut shells on the floor and had knowledge only that their waitress had thrown the shells on the floor away from the table. She lacked knowledge that other employees and patrons also threw peanut shells on the floor as a usual custom and practice and that there was no inspection or routine removal of the shells. The court determined McHenry did not see the shells on the floor and the restaurant had “superior knowledge because it instituted and perpetuated such custom and practice.”