While at the cookoff, Notre Dame High drama teacher Steve Fontenot showed me a list of outrageous lawsuits with surprising verdicts where the plaintiff walked away with a large settlement.
The list was an actual listing of Stella Awards Winners for the past year. These awards are named after Stella Liebeck who won her fame (or notiriety) for suing McDonald's after spilling hot coffee on herself. She spilled her coffee and received burns after she took the lid off and placed it between her legs. For those of you who remember, Stella received approximately $1 million for the burns she received although she took the "protective" lid off herself.
Among the winners this year were:
- Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas who was awarded $80,000 by a jury after breaking her ankle in a furniture store when she suffered a broken ankle after tripping over a toddler who was running around the aisles. The catch - it was her child.
- Then there was the case of Travis Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned he could not get it opened. He couldn't re-enter the house he had just robbed either because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when he pulled it shut. He was forced to sit inside this garage for eight days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dog food. He sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay $500,000 for his anguish.
- However, the first place Stella Award winner this year was Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip going home from an Oklahoma University football game, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago and make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway and overturned. Mrs. Grazinski sued the Winnebago company for not including in their ownership manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. Her settlement - $1,750,000 and a new Winnebago.
There is a word for the aforementioned people that I learned from my father. They are called 'litigious.' Which I hope in Webster's Dictionary is defined as "a person who will do anything for a buck." And I'm sorry but if I'm walking down the aisle at Wal-Mart and slip and fall right next to a 'Wet Floor' sign the only person who will be paying is me. And my currency would be embarrassment.
Speaking of embarrassing....
It's officially beginning to happen. True, loyal, '43 seasons worth of misery' Saints fans are beginning to find out exactly who we are and who was simply along for the ride. The ones who jumped on the bandwagon two years ago are beginning to jump off now that the Saints are 0-3.
"I'm disgusted with this team,"said a call-in guy on a radio show I was listening to this evening. "I'm ready to sell off all my 'Who Dat' equipment....hell, I may just give it away."
Now their defense is horrendous. And their offense hasn't been much better without head coach and offensive guru, Sean Payton. It was almost as though he and Brees were a team within a team and they would constantly consult with each other throughout the game about exploiting a team's weaknesses that either would see during a game. And the loss of Drew's adviser has had an obvious impact on the team.
But you know something, anyone who has ever been a true fan of Louisiana's team will be watching the Saints this Sunday and cheering for them just as if they were 3-0. Though it is unlikely, if the Saints were to reel off 10 wins in a row, I wonder how many would try to climb back aboard.
Like I said, it presently looks very unlikely, however, stranger things have been known to happen. And I there's some consolation in knowing that there is another person besides me that I know will not miss any games - even if it is the last game of the season and the team was 0-15.
Coach Pizz I salute you.
One Sunday this fall you may have to prepare a dish of your famous pastalaya and we can have a discussion about who the Saints' top draft pick should be.
I guess until they are 0-8, there's always hope - albeit mathematecally. And the Saints still have enough talent on their team to make a playoff run. However, their problem is that they are disorganized. No head coach. A defense scheme that is still a work in progress. A training camp that was mostly missed by their Pro Bowl quarterback. And, of course, the infamous 'bountygate' scandal that was (no matter what anyone says) a major distraction.
However, if nothing else I got to enjoy watching the NFL's dictator Roger Goodell (I mean let's face it he never would have done this to the Dallas Cowboys) walking out of a meeting looking embarrassed - hell he was almost teary-eyed - now that his 'the buck stops here' attitude had been tarnished.
And I'll keep remembering that it wasn't that long ago that my biggest wish for the Saints was for them to make it to the Super Bowl just once while my father is still above ground.
Well they not only made it.They won.
So (at least for the time being because the Saints are only a strong defense - and their head coach - away from being a Super Bowl contenders again) I guess we've come full circle. From 43 years of misery, to spending one surreal year as the World Champions of football, to (seemingly) back down to earth. My father (who still has a couple of decades left in him) and I are once again cursing at the TV set like we did when I was 12 and he was 41.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Howell Dennis is a native of Lafayette, La. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington where he graduated in journalism and public relations.