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Home > Blog > General > The 5 Most Famous Personal Injury Cases

The 5 Most Famous Personal Injury Cases

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  1. Anderson v. Pacific Gas and Electric

Otherwise Known As: The Erin Brockovich Case.

The Anderson v. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) case was spearheaded in the 1990s by the now-infamous Erin Brockovich.

From 1952 to 1966, PG&E dumped about 370 million gallons of chromium-tainted wastewater around Hinkley, California, and failed to inform the local water board for over two decades, in1987. This contamination led to severe illnesses in the community. 

Erin Brockovich, a legal clerk at the time, teamed up with residents of Hinkley to conduct an investigation. The investigation found that the illnesses were directly linked to hexavalent chromium, a rust suppressor used in PG&E gas lines that is considered carcinogenic to workers. 

The residents (Anderson et al.) filed a class-action against PG&E—and won! Pacific Gas & Energy had to compensate the plaintiffs in the amount of $333 million for damages, making it the largest settlement of a direct-action lawsuit in American history.

  1. Escola vs. Coca-Cola
    Otherwise Known As: The Case Of The Exploding Soda Bottle. 

Gladys Escola was a server at a restaurant working in Fresno, California, in 1944. She was stocking bottles of Coca-Cola when one spontaneously exploded in her hand. The broken glass deeply severed nerves and muscles in her thumb and palm. Escola sued the company for negligence, and the trial court ruled with Escola.

Coca-Cola appealed to the Supreme Court of California. It was the concurring opinion that brought the case to mainstream attention and made it a landmark case.

Justice Roger Traynor argued that instead of deciding the case on the grounds of negligence, a rule of strict liability should be imposed on manufacturers whose products cause injury to consumers. This led to the development of the common law of product liability as we know it today, which was officially adopted in 1963 (almost two decades later).

Today, the court rules that a manufacturer incurs absolute liability when an article is placed on the market knowing that proves to have a defect that causes injury. Escola vs. Coca-Cola is widely recognized as a landmark case in American law and is mandatory reading for first-year students in most law schools in the U.S.

If you’ve suffered a personal injury in Florida, you’re going to need a quality attorney on your side, lawyer, regardless of celebrity status. With years of specialized experience, you can rest assured that Franco Law Firm is ready to fight for your fair compensation. Call us at (813) 872-0929 to book your free consultation.

  1.  Liebeck v. Mcdonald’s
    Otherwise Known As:  The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case.

The Liebeck vs. McDonald’s case is probably the best-known personal injury claim in the world.

It all started in 1994, when Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman, ordered a coffee at McDonald’s drive-thru. Instead of an energy boost, Liebeck received third-degree burns and pain and suffering.

The coffee spilled in Lieback’s lap, scalding her with third-degree burns to 16% of her body. Her injuries required extensive hospital treatment, including skin grafts, and she sued for $20,000 to cover medical costs.

Believing they would win the case, McDonald’s refused to settle, opting to go to court instead. This was a mistake.

At trial, Liebeck argued that McDonald’s was negligent in heating its coffee to such a high degree that it would cause second- or third-degree burns in as little as seven seconds. An investigation revealed that the restaurant had known about the risk from its scalding hot coffee for more than ten years through numerous other claims and suits.

The judge awarded Liebeck $200,000. Later, as the case continued, Lieback saw rewards of over $600,000 for punitive damages.

This ”McDonald’s Case” has become synonymous with food law in the U.S, reinforcing that all companies must ensure that their products are safe for customers. It was a lesson to all that no company is too large to be held accountable for its actions.

  1. Anderson v. Pacific Gas and Electric

Otherwise Known As: The Erin Brockovich Case.

The Anderson v. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) case was spearheaded in the 1990s by the now-infamous Erin Brockovich.

From 1952 to 1966, PG&E dumped about 370 million gallons of chromium-tainted wastewater around Hinkley, California, and failed to inform the local water board for over two decades, in1987. This contamination led to severe illnesses in the community. 

Erin Brockovich, a legal clerk at the time, teamed up with residents of Hinkley to conduct an investigation. The investigation found that the illnesses were directly linked to hexavalent chromium, a rust suppressor used in PG&E gas lines that is considered carcinogenic to workers. 

The residents (Anderson et al.) filed a class-action against PG&E—and won! Pacific Gas & Energy had to compensate the plaintiffs in the amount of $333 million for damages, making it the largest settlement of a direct-action lawsuit in American history.

  1. Escola vs. Coca-Cola
    Otherwise Known As: The Case Of The Exploding Soda Bottle. 

Gladys Escola was a server at a restaurant working in Fresno, California, in 1944. She was stocking bottles of Coca-Cola when one spontaneously exploded in her hand. The broken glass deeply severed nerves and muscles in her thumb and palm. Escola sued the company for negligence, and the trial court ruled with Escola.

Coca-Cola appealed to the Supreme Court of California. It was the concurring opinion that brought the case to mainstream attention and made it a landmark case.

Justice Roger Traynor argued that instead of deciding the case on the grounds of negligence, a rule of strict liability should be imposed on manufacturers whose products cause injury to consumers. This led to the development of the common law of product liability as we know it today, which was officially adopted in 1963 (almost two decades later).

Today, the court rules that a manufacturer incurs absolute liability when an article is placed on the market knowing that proves to have a defect that causes injury. Escola vs. Coca-Cola is widely recognized as a landmark case in American law and is mandatory reading for first-year students in most law schools in the U.S.

If you’ve suffered a personal injury in Florida, you’re going to need a quality attorney on your side, lawyer, regardless of celebrity status. With years of specialized experience, you can rest assured that Franco Law Firm is ready to fight for your fair compensation. Call us at (813) 872-0929 to book your free consultation.

  1. Bret Michaels v. CBS
    Otherwise Known As: The Tony Awards Injury Suit.


The second case study on our list is one of the most memorable onstage injuries in rock n’ roll history. occurred at the 2009 Tony Awards, and according to host Neil Patrick Harris, “gave a new meaning to the term headbanging.”

Bret Michaels, lead singer of the glam metal band, Poison, had just finished performing “Nothin’ But A Good Time,” when he was hit in the face by a descending set piece exiting the stage. 

The rockstar suffered a broken nose and said the incident contributed to a brain hemorrhage he suffered several months later. He sued CBS and the Tony Awards for pain and suffering, medical treatment, and lost income opportunities.  

CBS settled the lawsuit, and the court awarded Michaels an undisclosed amount.

  1.  Liebeck v. Mcdonald’s
    Otherwise Known As:  The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case.

The Liebeck vs. McDonald’s case is probably the best-known personal injury claim in the world.

It all started in 1994, when Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman, ordered a coffee at McDonald’s drive-thru. Instead of an energy boost, Liebeck received third-degree burns and pain and suffering.

The coffee spilled in Lieback’s lap, scalding her with third-degree burns to 16% of her body. Her injuries required extensive hospital treatment, including skin grafts, and she sued for $20,000 to cover medical costs.

Believing they would win the case, McDonald’s refused to settle, opting to go to court instead. This was a mistake.

At trial, Liebeck argued that McDonald’s was negligent in heating its coffee to such a high degree that it would cause second- or third-degree burns in as little as seven seconds. An investigation revealed that the restaurant had known about the risk from its scalding hot coffee for more than ten years through numerous other claims and suits.

The judge awarded Liebeck $200,000. Later, as the case continued, Lieback saw rewards of over $600,000 for punitive damages.

This ”McDonald’s Case” has become synonymous with food law in the U.S, reinforcing that all companies must ensure that their products are safe for customers. It was a lesson to all that no company is too large to be held accountable for its actions.

  1. Anderson v. Pacific Gas and Electric

Otherwise Known As: The Erin Brockovich Case.

The Anderson v. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) case was spearheaded in the 1990s by the now-infamous Erin Brockovich.

From 1952 to 1966, PG&E dumped about 370 million gallons of chromium-tainted wastewater around Hinkley, California, and failed to inform the local water board for over two decades, in1987. This contamination led to severe illnesses in the community. 

Erin Brockovich, a legal clerk at the time, teamed up with residents of Hinkley to conduct an investigation. The investigation found that the illnesses were directly linked to hexavalent chromium, a rust suppressor used in PG&E gas lines that is considered carcinogenic to workers. 

The residents (Anderson et al.) filed a class-action against PG&E—and won! Pacific Gas & Energy had to compensate the plaintiffs in the amount of $333 million for damages, making it the largest settlement of a direct-action lawsuit in American history.

  1. Escola vs. Coca-Cola
    Otherwise Known As: The Case Of The Exploding Soda Bottle. 

Gladys Escola was a server at a restaurant working in Fresno, California, in 1944. She was stocking bottles of Coca-Cola when one spontaneously exploded in her hand. The broken glass deeply severed nerves and muscles in her thumb and palm. Escola sued the company for negligence, and the trial court ruled with Escola.

Coca-Cola appealed to the Supreme Court of California. It was the concurring opinion that brought the case to mainstream attention and made it a landmark case.

Justice Roger Traynor argued that instead of deciding the case on the grounds of negligence, a rule of strict liability should be imposed on manufacturers whose products cause injury to consumers. This led to the development of the common law of product liability as we know it today, which was officially adopted in 1963 (almost two decades later).

Today, the court rules that a manufacturer incurs absolute liability when an article is placed on the market knowing that proves to have a defect that causes injury. Escola vs. Coca-Cola is widely recognized as a landmark case in American law and is mandatory reading for first-year students in most law schools in the U.S.

If you’ve suffered a personal injury in Florida, you’re going to need a quality attorney on your side, lawyer, regardless of celebrity status. With years of specialized experience, you can rest assured that Franco Law Firm is ready to fight for your fair compensation. Call us at (813) 872-0929 to book your free consultation.

  1. Harris v. McGraw

Otherwise Known As: Dr. Phil’s Famous Dog Bite. 

Celebrity doctor Phil McGraw and his wife Robin found themselves in legal trouble when the couple’s dog bit their friend Janet Harris in 2009. According to Harris, the couple convinced her not to seek medical help for fear of negative publicity.

Harris later developed a bacterial infection due to non-treatment, which resulted in hearing loss and hand tremors. She filed a lawsuit of $7 million against the McGraws in 2011, as she was unable to work, suffered emotional stress, and had substantial medical bills to pay. 

The court denied Dr. Phil’s motion to dismiss, and the case settled in 2013 for an undisclosed amount.

  1. Bret Michaels v. CBS
    Otherwise Known As: The Tony Awards Injury Suit.


The second case study on our list is one of the most memorable onstage injuries in rock n’ roll history. occurred at the 2009 Tony Awards, and according to host Neil Patrick Harris, “gave a new meaning to the term headbanging.”

Bret Michaels, lead singer of the glam metal band, Poison, had just finished performing “Nothin’ But A Good Time,” when he was hit in the face by a descending set piece exiting the stage. 

The rockstar suffered a broken nose and said the incident contributed to a brain hemorrhage he suffered several months later. He sued CBS and the Tony Awards for pain and suffering, medical treatment, and lost income opportunities.  

CBS settled the lawsuit, and the court awarded Michaels an undisclosed amount.

  1.  Liebeck v. Mcdonald’s
    Otherwise Known As:  The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case.

The Liebeck vs. McDonald’s case is probably the best-known personal injury claim in the world.

It all started in 1994, when Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman, ordered a coffee at McDonald’s drive-thru. Instead of an energy boost, Liebeck received third-degree burns and pain and suffering.

The coffee spilled in Lieback’s lap, scalding her with third-degree burns to 16% of her body. Her injuries required extensive hospital treatment, including skin grafts, and she sued for $20,000 to cover medical costs.

Believing they would win the case, McDonald’s refused to settle, opting to go to court instead. This was a mistake.

At trial, Liebeck argued that McDonald’s was negligent in heating its coffee to such a high degree that it would cause second- or third-degree burns in as little as seven seconds. An investigation revealed that the restaurant had known about the risk from its scalding hot coffee for more than ten years through numerous other claims and suits.

The judge awarded Liebeck $200,000. Later, as the case continued, Lieback saw rewards of over $600,000 for punitive damages.

This ”McDonald’s Case” has become synonymous with food law in the U.S, reinforcing that all companies must ensure that their products are safe for customers. It was a lesson to all that no company is too large to be held accountable for its actions.

  1. Anderson v. Pacific Gas and Electric

Otherwise Known As: The Erin Brockovich Case.

The Anderson v. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) case was spearheaded in the 1990s by the now-infamous Erin Brockovich.

From 1952 to 1966, PG&E dumped about 370 million gallons of chromium-tainted wastewater around Hinkley, California, and failed to inform the local water board for over two decades, in1987. This contamination led to severe illnesses in the community. 

Erin Brockovich, a legal clerk at the time, teamed up with residents of Hinkley to conduct an investigation. The investigation found that the illnesses were directly linked to hexavalent chromium, a rust suppressor used in PG&E gas lines that is considered carcinogenic to workers. 

The residents (Anderson et al.) filed a class-action against PG&E—and won! Pacific Gas & Energy had to compensate the plaintiffs in the amount of $333 million for damages, making it the largest settlement of a direct-action lawsuit in American history.

  1. Escola vs. Coca-Cola
    Otherwise Known As: The Case Of The Exploding Soda Bottle. 

Gladys Escola was a server at a restaurant working in Fresno, California, in 1944. She was stocking bottles of Coca-Cola when one spontaneously exploded in her hand. The broken glass deeply severed nerves and muscles in her thumb and palm. Escola sued the company for negligence, and the trial court ruled with Escola.

Coca-Cola appealed to the Supreme Court of California. It was the concurring opinion that brought the case to mainstream attention and made it a landmark case.

Justice Roger Traynor argued that instead of deciding the case on the grounds of negligence, a rule of strict liability should be imposed on manufacturers whose products cause injury to consumers. This led to the development of the common law of product liability as we know it today, which was officially adopted in 1963 (almost two decades later).

Today, the court rules that a manufacturer incurs absolute liability when an article is placed on the market knowing that proves to have a defect that causes injury. Escola vs. Coca-Cola is widely recognized as a landmark case in American law and is mandatory reading for first-year students in most law schools in the U.S.

If you’ve suffered a personal injury in Florida, you’re going to need a quality attorney on your side, lawyer, regardless of celebrity status. With years of specialized experience, you can rest assured that Franco Law Firm is ready to fight for your fair compensation. Call us at (813) 872-0929 to book your free consultation.

The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics estimate between 300,000 and 500,000 personal injury cases each year in the United States.

As we shared in our Case Study: Gloria Estefan vs. Maersk Inc., personal injury accidents can happen to anyone, even the rich or famous. The resulting lawsuits have the potential to improve society at large, as they often prompt essential changes to the law. 

Here are five famous personal injury lawsuits that had significant impacts.

  1. Harris v. McGraw

Otherwise Known As: Dr. Phil’s Famous Dog Bite. 

Celebrity doctor Phil McGraw and his wife Robin found themselves in legal trouble when the couple’s dog bit their friend Janet Harris in 2009. According to Harris, the couple convinced her not to seek medical help for fear of negative publicity.

Harris later developed a bacterial infection due to non-treatment, which resulted in hearing loss and hand tremors. She filed a lawsuit of $7 million against the McGraws in 2011, as she was unable to work, suffered emotional stress, and had substantial medical bills to pay. 

The court denied Dr. Phil’s motion to dismiss, and the case settled in 2013 for an undisclosed amount.

  1. Bret Michaels v. CBS
    Otherwise Known As: The Tony Awards Injury Suit.


The second case study on our list is one of the most memorable onstage injuries in rock n’ roll history. occurred at the 2009 Tony Awards, and according to host Neil Patrick Harris, “gave a new meaning to the term headbanging.”

Bret Michaels, lead singer of the glam metal band, Poison, had just finished performing “Nothin’ But A Good Time,” when he was hit in the face by a descending set piece exiting the stage. 

The rockstar suffered a broken nose and said the incident contributed to a brain hemorrhage he suffered several months later. He sued CBS and the Tony Awards for pain and suffering, medical treatment, and lost income opportunities.  

CBS settled the lawsuit, and the court awarded Michaels an undisclosed amount.

  1.  Liebeck v. Mcdonald’s
    Otherwise Known As:  The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case.

The Liebeck vs. McDonald’s case is probably the best-known personal injury claim in the world.

It all started in 1994, when Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman, ordered a coffee at McDonald’s drive-thru. Instead of an energy boost, Liebeck received third-degree burns and pain and suffering.

The coffee spilled in Lieback’s lap, scalding her with third-degree burns to 16% of her body. Her injuries required extensive hospital treatment, including skin grafts, and she sued for $20,000 to cover medical costs.

Believing they would win the case, McDonald’s refused to settle, opting to go to court instead. This was a mistake.

At trial, Liebeck argued that McDonald’s was negligent in heating its coffee to such a high degree that it would cause second- or third-degree burns in as little as seven seconds. An investigation revealed that the restaurant had known about the risk from its scalding hot coffee for more than ten years through numerous other claims and suits.

The judge awarded Liebeck $200,000. Later, as the case continued, Lieback saw rewards of over $600,000 for punitive damages.

This ”McDonald’s Case” has become synonymous with food law in the U.S, reinforcing that all companies must ensure that their products are safe for customers. It was a lesson to all that no company is too large to be held accountable for its actions.

  1. Anderson v. Pacific Gas and Electric

Otherwise Known As: The Erin Brockovich Case.

The Anderson v. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) case was spearheaded in the 1990s by the now-infamous Erin Brockovich.

From 1952 to 1966, PG&E dumped about 370 million gallons of chromium-tainted wastewater around Hinkley, California, and failed to inform the local water board for over two decades, in1987. This contamination led to severe illnesses in the community. 

Erin Brockovich, a legal clerk at the time, teamed up with residents of Hinkley to conduct an investigation. The investigation found that the illnesses were directly linked to hexavalent chromium, a rust suppressor used in PG&E gas lines that is considered carcinogenic to workers. 

The residents (Anderson et al.) filed a class-action against PG&E—and won! Pacific Gas & Energy had to compensate the plaintiffs in the amount of $333 million for damages, making it the largest settlement of a direct-action lawsuit in American history.

  1. Escola vs. Coca-Cola
    Otherwise Known As: The Case Of The Exploding Soda Bottle. 

Gladys Escola was a server at a restaurant working in Fresno, California, in 1944. She was stocking bottles of Coca-Cola when one spontaneously exploded in her hand. The broken glass deeply severed nerves and muscles in her thumb and palm. Escola sued the company for negligence, and the trial court ruled with Escola.

Coca-Cola appealed to the Supreme Court of California. It was the concurring opinion that brought the case to mainstream attention and made it a landmark case.

Justice Roger Traynor argued that instead of deciding the case on the grounds of negligence, a rule of strict liability should be imposed on manufacturers whose products cause injury to consumers. This led to the development of the common law of product liability as we know it today, which was officially adopted in 1963 (almost two decades later).

Today, the court rules that a manufacturer incurs absolute liability when an article is placed on the market knowing that proves to have a defect that causes injury. Escola vs. Coca-Cola is widely recognized as a landmark case in American law and is mandatory reading for first-year students in most law schools in the U.S.

If you’ve suffered a personal injury in Florida, you’re going to need a quality attorney on your side, lawyer, regardless of celebrity status. With years of specialized experience, you can rest assured that Franco Law Firm is ready to fight for your fair compensation. Call us at (813) 872-0929 to book your free consultation.

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