Why We Have Lawyers 1. January 2000. Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $780,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running amok inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering that the misbehaving tyke was Ms. Robertson's son. 2. June 1998. Nineteen-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbor ran over Carl's hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently didn't notice that someone was at the wheel of the car whose hubcap he was trying to steal. 3. October 1998. Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was exiting a house he had finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up as the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldn't reenter the house because the door between the garage and the house had locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation, so Mr.Dickson found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food. This upset Mr.Dickson, so he sued the homeowner's insurance company, claiming the situation had caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of half a million dollars and change. 4. October 1999. Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbor's beagle. The beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced-in yard. Mr. Williams was also in the yard. The award was less than the amount sought because the jury felt that the dog may have been provoked by Mr. Williams, who, at the time, was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun. 5. May 2000. A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her coccyx. The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson threw it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. 6. December 1997. Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a night club in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out two front teeth. This occurred when Ms. Walton was trying to sneak out through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.