From Publishers Weekly
Depending on whether you're an attorney specializing in product liability cases, it's disheartening or it's not to read about the hunter who sued an ammunition manufacturer that failed to warn him its ammunition was not "suitable for killing a charging lion," or the California city that sued a non-lethal taser manufacturer for failing to "adequately teach police officers the difference between the Taser and their own handguns." The book "honors" lawsuits of the frivolous and ridiculous varieties by awarding them Stella Awards (named after Stella Liebeck, who famously spilled hot McDonald's coffee in her lap, then sued the chain). Though most lawsuits are summarized in a wink-and-a-nudge tone, the humorist author does allow himself a brief moment of activism in citing the ballooning costs-in dollars and wasted legal resources-of the "lawsuit industry," which cost litigants $250 billion in 2004. Just as likely to make readers shake their heads as chuckle, Cassingham has collected an astonishing array of cases: an Alabama woman was awarded $100,000 after being locked in a storage shed for two months; an Ohio man sued Delta Airlines after sitting next to an obese passenger on a two-hour flight; a mortgage company sued a couple whose identity had been stolen. A nifty little gift for anyone who appreciates absurdist trivia, the book's thumbnail case summaries make for easy spot reading.
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The Stella Awards are named for Stella Lie-beck, the woman who, in a much-publicized case, sued McDonald's after spilling coffee on herself. Like the Darwin Awards, which celebrate stupidity, the Stellas honor frivolous lawsuits. Cassingham, creator of the This Is True Web site, which deals with the strange but true, swears that all of the lawsuits described herein are true, and he even provides his sources. Among the Stella winners: the mother whose son drank a lot of beer, stole his girlfriend's car, and drove himself into a light pole, prompting Mom to sue the company that made the beer, the girlfriend, the girlfriend's mother, and the guy who owned the house where her son drank the beer. And let's not forget the man who sued McDonald's because a burrito gave him a nosebleed, the lottery winner who sued because he thought he should have won more, and on and on. The author describes the suits in the most straightforward of prose, but it hardly matters: the facts of the cases are funny enough all by themselves. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved