You'd likely complain if you were served cold coffee at a drive-through. But in 1994 Stella Liebeck sued McDonald's because she suffered burns when she spilled her hot joe on her lap while pulling out of the fast food giant's parking lot, prompting the application of stickers reminding customers that the hot coffee they're ordering will indeed be served hot.
But coffee isn't the oddest -- or most menacing -- defendant in lawsuits of late. American courts are over-crowded with plaintiffs looking for restitution as a result of a bevy of unusual circumstances. So inquiring minds asked "What were some of the most outrageous or scary lawsuits of 2009?"
Here's a look inside the litigious world we've come to know.
Hey doc, did you count all your instruments?
A lawsuit filed in a Tampa, Fla. court claims a woman's nosebleeds, sinus infections and dizziness were the result of her dentist leaving a drill bit in her head for almost a year. The lawsuit says Donna Delgao's doctor left a one-inch-long piece of steel in a wound after dental surgery in 2008, which later lodged in her sinus. Another doctor later removed the bit.
Just how hot are those hash browns?
Last Fall, a Boston area couple sued a local Dunkin' Donuts for $200,000 in damages for "serious and permanent burn injuries" suffered by their 23-month-old son. The offender: "Dangerously hot" hash browns. The suit claimed the tot burned his neck on a "dangerously hot" hash brown patty served at a drive-through. Apparently, the hot hash brown fell from the child's mouth and onto his neck where the suit claims it immediately stuck. No word on how the hash browns took a turn under his chin to bypass falling straight down onto the boy's lap.
I've got a broken heart.
True, a broken heart isn't a real medical condition. But, in June 2009, a Brooklyn man looking for love sued Internet matchmaker Match.com for inflicting "humiliation and disappointment" on lonely hearts "who feel rejected when their e-mails get no reply." Plaintiff Sean McGinn alleged Match.com is guilty of a form of false advertising, claiming they tempt the lovelorn with profiles of would-be suitors who are no longer members of the matchmaking site. As a result, McGinn claimed Match.com "defrauded" lonely hearts out of millions of dollars and countless hours spent sending heartfelt missives in vain. The suit also alleged "Match induces canceled members to log in . . . creating the appearance that inactive members are active" by sending bogus BlackBerry notifications that read, "Someone has winked back at you."
In September, McGinn dropped his $5 million class-action suit due to "the amount of ridicule" he had to endure from "sensationalized media coverage." That coverage was sparked by the Post's claim that McGinn did in fact find a girlfriend via Match.com.
It's a long drop off the toilet seat.
In April 2009, a patron at Wolfgang Puck's Spago restaurant claims she fell off a ladies room commode. It seems she was trying to balance herself on the throne while attempting to hold the door to the loo shut. The lawsuit filed in a Los Angeles court stated the upscale eatery's bathroom floor was covered in "pools of urine and feces." The woman alleges the only plausible potty didn't have a latch on the door.
No surprise Spago reps refuted the claim, telling TMZ, "In our 27 years of business we've never had an issue close to this." Yeah, go figure.
Take the first steps to building your portfolio.View Course »