At a Palm Springs Women in Film and TV event, I overheard two women who didn’t understand the McDonald’s hot coffee case. Like most people, they assumed Stella Liebeck bought a McDonald’s cup of coffee and was at fault for placing it between her legs.

The truth is that 81-year-old Stella Liebeck did spill McDonald’s hot coffee on herself while holding the cup between her legs. However, there is more to the story. After she successfully sued McDonalds for her burns, the world thought it couldn’t get worse. From this, the Stella Awards were birthed for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the USA.

Most don’t know McDonald’s had received many complaints about its coffee being too hot. At trial, we learned that McDonald’s discovered that coffee brewed at a higher temperature would yield more cups per bag of coffee. The result was a very large Jury award, but few know the rest of the story… the judge cut the verdict drastically.

The also fictitious Darwin awards were the “ying” to Stella’s “yang.” They were thought to be awarded to dummies who successfully removed their genes from the human gene pool. Some argue the winner was when a robber’s gun didn’t discharge, and the dummy looked down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked, and he was not around to be arrested.


As a young Public Defender representing a young man on a Possession of Drugs charge, I got the case “dismissed” on a search and seizure issue, and my client yelled out, “Judge, can I get my shit back.” I wanted to submit him for the Stella and Darwin awards, but there were more deserving dummies.

The latest Darwin Awards are again bestowed to those with a “room temperature” mentality… and the winners are:

1. When a robber’s gun didn’t discharge, he looked down the barrel and pulled the trigger, which this time worked.


2. A chef lost a finger in a meat-cutting machine. His insurance company sent an investigator who also lost a finger when trying the machine… resulting in a settlement.

3. After shoveling snow to clear space for his car, a woman stole his spot, and logically he shot her.

4. A foreign bus driver carrying mental patients illegally stopped at a bar and found his 20 mental patients had escaped. He went to a bus stop to avoid his screw-up and offered everyone a free ride. He took them to the mental hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies. It took 3 days for this to be discovered.

5. A hospitalized teen with head injuries from an approaching train was asked how it happened. He explained he wanted to see how close he could get to avoiding an oncoming train… and got hit.

6. A robber placed a $20 bill on the counter, asked for change, and pulled his gun, demanding all the money. He only got $15 but left the $20 bill on the counter.

7. A thirsty guy threw a cinder block at a liquor store’s Plexiglas window. He was knocked out when it bounced off the window… and the incident was videotaped.

8. A woman’s purse was snatched, and the thief was caught within minutes. When the police returned to the scene, they told him it was for an ID. When the thief saw the victim, he shouted, “That’s the woman I stole the purse from.”

9. A guy with a gun walks into a fast food store at 5 a.m. and demands cash. The clerk explains he can’t open the drawer without a purchase. The guy orders and is advised that the item isn’t available until breakfast…so the frustrated robber leaves.


10. A guy attempting to steal gas from a motor home connects a hose and sucks to get the gas going. When the cops arrived, he was sick and lying in sewage next to the home. He had attached the hose to the sewage tank… instead of gas.

Remember….They have kids who walk among us.


Dale Gribow is an acclaimed “Boutique Concierge” PI/DUI firm with over 25 TOP LAWYER awards, 9 Man of the Year recognitions, 4 Dale Gribow Days, and awarded “Mr. Charity”…recognizing dozens of philanthropic awards. He has protected the Constitutional Rights of the CV’s Seriously Injured and Criminally Accused for 30 years, helping good people when bad things happen to them. He limits the caseload, so calls can be answered and returned, the “Old Fashioned” way…by Dale.

“Whether your case is accepted, I will personally direct you… because after 50 years, I know the best lawyers.”