Every so often I hear about something that someone in the legal profession did that is so laughable that I just have to post it for the world to see. Lucky for the readers of this blog, I had such a moment just the other day. A co-worker sent me a link to a story from Portland that reports that a lawyer there blamed his car for speeding. Now, being a bit of a legal mind myself, I generally applaud the ability to make a subtle or unconventional argument. However, subtle and unconventional do not equal crazy, and I think this guy might be crazy. Apparently, since the handling of his BMW is so superb, he failed to notice his speed and believed that an argument blaming the car would get him off the hook for his ticket. Like I said—laughable. He ended up with a fine of $182 for driving 76 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone.
But this one story isn’t enough for me. I did a little internet research to find some other ridiculous law-related tales…
The Stella Awards
Many people are probably familiar with the Stella Awards, but for those who aren’t: A Stella Award is earned by a lawsuit when that lawsuit is outrageous or ridiculous, and usually is seen as an abuse of the legal system. While abusing the legal system is pretty serious, these stories are still pretty funny.
The Stella Awards were named after Stella Liebeck, who spilled a cup of McDonald’s coffee on her lap, resulting in some serious third degree burns. She sued McDonald’s and was awarded $2.9 million by a jury (though the judge knocked down the ridiculously high punitive damages). Rather than chance an appeal, McDonald’s and Stella negotiated a secret settlement after the case, in which McDonald’s paid Stella some unknown amount (it was a secret settlement, after all), to not appeal the case.
Though the Stella Awards take their name from Stella Liebeck, her case is not the most ridiculous case on the Stella Awards website. Not even close. If you visit the Stella Awards website you can read more, and even subscribe for email updates. There’s also a Stella Awards book that’s available.
And Because Stories Aren’t Enough…
Jokes! Just a few one-liners, from the selection at comedy-zone.net:
Q: Why won’t sharks attack lawyers?
A: Professional courtesy.
Q: How can you tell when a lawyer is lying?
A: His lips move
I hope you’ve all been sufficiently entertained for today. I’m sure I’ll hear another ridiculous legal tale soon enough, and when I do, I’ll be sure to pass it on.