Personal Injury Blog


Scales of Justice

The United States judicial system is one of the greatest in the world, and courts are intended to help people achieve justice and to help make things right for those who have suffered injury or loss.

We've put together a list of the five most incredible jury verdicts and settlements we’ve ever seen.

1. McDonalds Coffee

One of the most famous civil settlements is the McDonald's hot coffee case, a product liability case that intensified the debate over tort reform in the United States.

Stella Liebeck, 79, spilled hot coffee on her lap that she'd just purchased at McDonald's. The incident resulted in third-degree burns, an extended hospital stay, skin grafts, and two years of ongoing treatment. Her lawyers argued the 180-190°F coffee was dangerously hot and likely to cause a severe injury.

A jury awarded Liebeck $160,000 for compensatory damages and medical costs and an additional $2.7 million in punitive damages. However, the judge reduced the verdict to $640,000 and the parties settled for a confidential amount before an appeal was decided. While her lawsuit often is regarded as an abuse of the legal system, it's important to note that Liebeck originally asked for just $20,000, which McDonald’s declined to pay.

2. The Thieving Pharmacist

Pharmacist Robert Courtney began diluting cancer drugs in 1992. On August 23, 2001, he was indicted on 20 counts of tampering with consumer products and adulterating and misbranding drugs.

He was also hit with approximately 300 civil lawsuits for fraud and wrongful death. Georgia Hayes, a patient whose ovarian cancer was in remission when she received the diluted drugs, was awarded a judgment of $2.2 billion by a jury. $35 million was paid to Courtney's victims by his insurance company, and another $71 million in settlements was paid by two pharmaceutical companies. The pharmacists's assets were sold and about 1,000 victims received more than $10,000 each in restitution. Many patients and their loved ones wanted him to be charged with murder, but federal prosecutors believed a murder charge would be hard to prove. He is currently serving his 30-year sentence at Big Spring Federal Correctional Institution in Texas.

3. Dangerous School Spirit

California high school student Mitchell Carter was attacked during a high school pep rally after dressing up as a rival school's mascot: a chicken. When he refused to go out to the rally again, Carter claimed that a school administrator told him to return to the rally or pay the chicken suit’s rental fee. The student was again mobbed, resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). He now faces psychological issues, learning difficulties, and will have to receive ongoing growth hormone therapy due to pituitary gland damage.

Attorneys for the school district argued that Carter started fighting with the opposing students when he went out. Carter’s attorney, Nick Rowley asserted and that the school district was responsible for creating the unsafe conditions that led to Carter’s injuries. The jury agreed, finding the school district liable for the student’s injuries, and awarded Carter $10.5 million.

4. Underage Drinking and Driving

There has been significant compensation awarded in Florida jury verdicts as well. In May 2012, a Hillsborough County convenience store was ordered to pay $716 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. The money was paid to the family of Samuel Garcia, who was killed by a drunk driver. The driver, 17-year-old David Holdsworth, had a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit when he crashed into Garcia's car, killing him. Garcia’s family sued Best for Less Food Mart, the Riverview, FL convenience store where Holdsworth had bought the alcohol. During the trial, teens testified the store was well-known among East Bay High Students as a place where they could buy alcohol.

5. OJ Simpson's Civil Case

It's well known that former football legend O.J. Simpson was not found guilty in the mid-90s criminal trial for the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman. However, what may not as well known is that he was ordered to pay more than $33 million to the victims' families through a civil court case remains largely unpaid to this day. In 2015, Goldman's family renewed the judgment at $57 million. An attorney for the Goldman family said in 2017 that they will continue pursuing payment.

These jury verdicts are just a few examples of how victims have received just compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, our experienced personal injury lawyers will protect your rights and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact our personal injury attorneys at 352-888-4484 or toll-free at 866-9-LOWMAN.

Know Your Rights | Lowman Law Firm Blog 

Leave A Comment