The Most Famous, Strange, and Expensive Personal Injury Cases in the United States

The Most Famous, Strange, and Expensive Personal Injury Cases in the United States

Jul 6, 2023 | Personal Injury Insights

In the vast landscape of personal injury cases, some legal battles have captured the public’s attention like no others. From bizarre incidents that leave us questioning reality to astronomical settlements that redefine the meaning of compensation, the United States has seen its fair share of extraordinary personal injury cases.

Here, we will show you a bit of the topmost famous, expensive, and extraordinary personal injury cases, from high-profile lawsuits that dominated the headlines to lesser-known cases with jaw-dropping twists.

1. Liebeck v. McDonald’s Corporation

One of the most iconic personal injury cases in history revolves around Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Liebeck suffered severe burns when a cup of scalding-hot coffee she purchased from McDonald’s spilled on her lap. Liebeck’s attorney argued that the coffee’s extremely high temperature made it defective and unreasonably dangerous. McDonald’s vigorously contested this claim, resulting in a legal battle of monumental proportions. Ultimately, Liebeck emerged victorious, securing a remarkable $2.7 million in punitive damages.

Widely known as the “McDonald’s Case,” this landmark litigation significantly influenced food law in the United States. As a result, the exemplary “Caution HOT!” label now adorns every cup of hot coffee served by McDonald’s.

2. Escola v. The Coca-Cola Company

In 1944, a traumatic incident unfolded when Gladys Escola, a waitress, was serving a bottle of Coca-Cola to a customer. Unexpectedly, the bottle exploded, causing severe lacerations to her hand and inflicting significant pain.

Escola’s legal team argued that Coca-Cola should be held accountable for the defective bottle, asserting that the company had a duty to ensure product safety. Coca-Cola, however, contended that the exact cause of the bottle’s defect could not be determined and even questioned whether tampering occurred after it left their control. The California Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gladys Escola, employing the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur (the occurrence of certain types of accidents implies negligence) and holding Coca-Cola liable for her injuries.

3. Seong Sil Kim v. New York City Transit Authority

A remarkable case happened in New York City when a woman attempted suicide by lying down on subway tracks. Instead of being a fatal event, she survived with injuries when a train arrived. Following this incident, she sued the city of New York for her injuries, ultimately being awarded $14.1 million by the Supreme Court.

4. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement

In 1998, a historic $206 billion verdict was reached when 46 states united against America’s four largest tobacco companies. The aim was to seek compensation for the costs associated with caring for individuals suffering from smoking-related diseases. The resulting master settlement agreement established punitive damages to be paid by the tobacco companies over 25 years to support ill smokers. Additionally, it led to the creation of the Truth Initiative, an organization dedicated to combating tobacco and nicotine addiction. The agreement also imposed restrictions on the marketing strategies employed by these companies to promote cigarette products.

These personal injury cases, among many others, have reshaped the legal landscape. They have not only resulted in substantial compensation for the victims but have also influenced how personal injury law is perceived and practiced. These are only a few of the many captivating stories the law system has witnessed. So maybe this will only be part one of many more to come. 

If you get involved in an accident, call us at 954-664-0339 to receive an immediate legal assessment about how to proceed after an accident or review your case. Remember! Calling us can ensure that you are fully protected and able to receive the best and most appropriate compensation.

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