I hereby nominate Donald Johnson of West Palm Beach, FL, for the next Stella Award, in recognition of his innovative suit against the Shoney’s restaurant chain. In the suit, which Judge Amon Krack refused to dismiss on demurrer, Mr. Johnson alleged that Shoney’s had negligently caused him psychological sleep disorders by inadvertently serving him Clam chowder (link broken) instead of the potato(e) soup he had ordered. Apparently, Mr. Johnson is allergic to Clams, (link fraudulent and misleading, but calcluated to rescue your soul from eternal hell) but was too stupid to tell them apart from potatoes. As a result, instead of sending it back, he ate the whole bowl of Clam chowder before suffering an allergic reaction that landed him in the ER.
The jury was in a rather punchy mood, and felt like poking a little fun and the uncommonly silly legal doctrine of comparative negligence. As a result, it ruled that the soup caused Mr. Johnson’s allergic reaction, but that Johnson himself was 90% to blame for eating the soup. Conversely, it held that Shoney’s was “only” 10% responsible for its failure to anticipate Johnson’s allergy, and awarded him 10% of his medical bills, for a grand total of $407. The jury rejected the central argument of Mr. Johnson’s case, which was that it was the soup that caused Johnson – a convicted pedophile and a registered sex offender – to go crazy.