McDonald’s Lawsuit & 5 Other Infamous Legal Cases

Personal injury lawsuits can often seem bizarre:

Exploding coke bottles, extremely hot coffee, unprovoked dog bites, even seemingly innocuous painkillers are just some examples of bizarre personal injury lawsuits.  Personal injuries are not selective; they affect the famous and the common person alike.  Below are some infamous and precedent-setting lawsuits that illustrate the point.

Infamous Personal Injury Cases

Bret Michaels v. CBS

Lead singer and VH1 reality TV star Bret Michaels sued CBS over an injury he sustained while taping the Tony Awards in 2009. Personal injury lawyer Alex Weingarten claimed that CBS producers neglected to advise Michaels on how to properly exit the stage to avoid a set piece that fell and hit the entertainer’s head.  Michaels suffered a fractured nose, but also suffered more serious injuries in the form of brain hemorrhages several months after the accident.

The verdict?  The court found Michaels’ personal injury attorney’s persuasive, and ruled in the favor of Michaels for an undisclosed amount.

Gloria Estefan’s Truck Crash

When Gloria Estefan’s bus encountered a jack-knifed tractor-trailer on the highway, it stopped.  Unfortunately, the tractor-trailer behind her tour bus did not.

As is often the case in truck crashes, the injuries sustained by those on the bus were devastating.  Estefan was hospitalized with a broken back, and other members of her band were hospitalized as well.  The singer was forced to take an entire year off work to focus on rehabilitation.  During that time, not only did she had to regain her strength so that she could perform her intense dance routines, but also she had to regain her strength just to learn how to walk again.

Gloria Estefan and her spouse filed a lawsuit against the trucking company for pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses, and won an $8.95 million verdict.

Dr. Phil’s Dog Bite Lawsuit

Janet Harris sued Dr. Phil over a dog bite.  Harris, a close friend of Dr. Phil, was visiting with the talk show host at his Beverly Hills estate, when Dr. Phil’s dog took a bite out of Ms. Harris’ leg.

Ms. Harris, the family friend claimed that the attack was vicious and unprovoked.  Ms. Harris was further harmed by bacterial infection as a result of the deep bite wounds and the delay in treatment.  Ms. Harris filed suit for $7 million, and has recently settled for an undisclosed amount.

Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants

We all know this one.  In 1992, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck spilled her McDonald’s coffee in her lap.  As a result, she received third-degree burns.  Ms. Lieback’s insurance refused to pay the entire costs of her medical bills, leaving Liebeck to hold the bag.  Ms. Lieback then turned to McDonald’s for compensation for medical bills and her injuries.

The restaurant chain refused to pay or settle, claiming that the injury was frivolous.  Liebeck then filed suit against McDonald’s and the jury awarded her $2.9 million.

Escola v. Coca-Cola

The last thing anyone expects when taking a bottle from the refrigerator (or even storing one there) is for it to erupt in your hand.  But that is exactly what happened to Gladys Escola.

Ms. Escola, a waitress, was putting glass bottles of Coca-Cola into a refrigerator when one exploded in her hand.  Ms. Escola injuries severed blood vessels, nerves, and even severed muscles in the palm of her hand and thumb. She filed suit against Coca-Cola to recover for her injuries.

The legendary litigator Melvin Belli represented Ms. Escola. The court ruled in favor of Ms. Escola and found Coca-Cola responsible for the safety of its products and the injuries Ms. Escola sustained.

Vioxx Lawsuit

The Vioxx lawsuit was huge.  Vioxx was a pain killer produced by Merck and Co.  However, the side effects of Vioxx killed Robert Ernst.  Merck vehemently denied any problems associated with Vioxx, even as the evidence mounted and study after study linked the painkiller to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

A jury held the drug manufacturer responsible for failing to warn that Vioxx increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes. On August 19, 2005, the jury awarded Ernst’s widow $253.4 million. (the verdict was later reduced).