Personal injury 101: there are stranger things than spilled McDonald’s coffee

Personal injury 101: there are stranger things than spilled McDonald’s coffee

What’s the weirdest personal injury case you can think of?

The infamous McDonald's coffee-spill is usually at the top of most people’s “frivolous lawsuits” list (nevermind that the facts of that case are often misunderstood).

And a quick Google search turns up countless reports of a burglar who sued his victim after getting stuck in the garage for over a week, but that legal legend is a total fabrication.

We’re still not sure why these are the cases that keep catching headlines when there are plenty of stranger-than-fiction cases already floating around. A few of our favorites are listed below:

Man in lion costume vs. man with hot dog in his eye

The Kansas City Royals mascot is a lion named Slugerrr who was party to a personal injury lawsuit that went all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court. For more than six years, teams of lawyers argued over whether Sluggerrr was a negligent jerk or a blameless lion-man with bad aim.

Here are the facts of the case:

  • In 2009, John Coomer was struck with a hot dog thrown by Sluggerrr.
  • Usually, the mascot launches the boiled franks from an air cannon.
  • Despite the decidedly more sensible delivery method, Sluggerrr’s “no-look, behind-the back” toss was forceful enough to detach Coomer’s retina.
  • The Royals’ legal team argued that the “Hotdog Toss” attraction (we let the Sluggerrr spelling slide, but c’mon KC, hot dog is two words) was so famous, attendees were aware of, and accepted, the risks of getting hit in the face with a meat sock.

In the final case, the jury found neither Mr. Coomer nor Sluggerrr at fault. Ahhh Missouri, unarguably the most forgiving state when it comes to sausage slapping.

IRS vs. Man who’s sorry for not paying taxes, not sorry for faking injuries

In 2008, William Berroyer Sr. attended a meeting at a Long Island IRS office regarding his $60,000 in unpaid taxes. After a pleasant meeting that ended when a payment plan had been agreed upon, Mr. Berroyer, stood up and immediately tripped over a phone cord. He filed a $10 million lawsuit against the US government for his injuries.

Here are the facts of the case:

  • Mr. Berroyer walked back to his car after tripping. From the IRS parking lot he called to say his shoulder hurt and couldn’t feel his lower leg.
  • He was taken to a local hospital and treated for seven days.
  • After being treated for physical and psychological injuries, Mr. Berroyer’s medical report essentially stated two things:
    • He was awfully happy for a man who claimed to be in incredible pain; and
    • All his tests indicated he should be able to walk without too much difficulty
  • Mr. Berroyer claimed to need a wheelchair for anything further than 20 feet, but video taken by a private investigator disputed this claim.

The outcome was...surprising. First, the judge ordered the US government to pay Mr. Berroyer $112,000 for medical expenses. So far, so good. The judge also awarded $600,000 for past and future pain and suffering. That’s a lot of zeroes for a trial where multiple medical experts testified that the plaintiff was faking.

That’s not all. The judge also ordered Mrs. Berroyer be compensated to the tune of $150,000 for past and future “loss of services,” essentially declaring that the US government injured her by turning her husband into a lifelong bellyacher.

Tax evaders and their wives can find the reference material here.

Ninja vs. ninja

In 2006, Joshua Alamo broke his ankle and sued his best friend for causing the injury. Mr. Alamo claimed $53,000 in medical expenses and $17,000 in lost wages, as he was unable to perform his duties as the security guard of a local topless bar.

Here are the facts of the case:

  • Mr. Alamo and his friend Daniel Howard “claimed to be serious ninjas and experts in the field of marshall [their lawyer’s spelling, not ours] arts and had plans to open a school for ninja training.”
  • One of their exercises involved throwing a tire on the roof and catching it when it rolled off (this seems like a good place to mention both parties were in their mid 20s).
  • At one point, the tire got stuck and Mr. Alamo went to retrieve it. He claimed Mr. Howard got angry and started shooting darts at him, which forced Mr. Alamo to jump off the roof and break his ankle.
  • Mr. Howard claimed the dart gun he was holding did not work and that he was merely “doing role playing.”
  • The events of this case took place at the Texas home of Mr. Howard’s grandmother, who had previously told them to, “stop playing on the roof!”

A jury ruled that there was “80% negligence on the Plaintiff ninja and 20% on the Defendant ninja.” And as the icing on the cake, they awarded $0 in damages.

Texas tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen.

In our last personal injury article, we cited a statistic that only 4% of cases actually go to trial. Based on that, we can deduce that:

  1. There are much, much stranger cases than these that were settled before they went to court; and
  2. The Buckingham, LaGrandeur & Williams team can get you a settlement quicker than you can say, “a fervently flung frankfurter flayed his face.”