Here we have a detailed accounting of each instance in which Anna H. Sturla reached a monetary settlement after a slip-and-fall “accident.” There were so many instances, it looks like greed got the best of her as she pulled this scam over and over until she was eventually caught.
I love how the article pits Sturla against her mighty foe, banana peels:
She was in the ladies’ cabin [of a ferryboat], she said, when a banana peel, that old bête noir of hers, again tricked her and caused her to fall on the floor.
She maintained that her mishap was due to a small paper bag, from one corner of which protruded the fatal banana peel…
The company paid her $150.
Not six months went by after that before Mrs. Sturla was once more in trouble with these arch-foes of hers, banana peels. One of these slippery gentry, according to her, was soon all ready for her on a boat of the Union Ferry Company, proceeding to the foot of Futon Street, Brooklyn. As the boat was entering the slip the miserable peel saw its chance, got under one of Mrs. Sturla’s feet, and caused her to fall to the deck.
She got $200…
Fifteen days later — March 19, 1908 — she again came to the fore with a claim for injuries in an accident. This time the culprit, she averred, was the Lehigh Valley Railroad. According to her story, she was riding one of its trains, bound for Buffalo, when she slipped on something (she gave those lurking enemies of hers, bananas, the benefit of the doubt) and fell forward. After being helped to her feet by a male passenger she saw him, she said, pick up some — banana peels!
Yes, there they were, ever vigilant, ever on the alert to trip her…
It might be assumed that by this time those grim old foes of hers, banana peels — that Yellow Peril of her life! — would have decided to rest on their laurels and persecute her no more.
Far from it!
One of them, according to her, was in her path on May 19th, 1908 — only eight days after her Fort Lee Ferry mishap — while she was shopping in the store of R. H. Macy & Co. It threw her, as usual. She was taken to the Herald Square Hotel, close by, and stayed there a couple of days. The owners of the store settled with her for $150.
Banana peels, of course, are also the scourge of many cartoon characters and vaudeville performers.
Do kids today even know that banana peels are hilarious?
I always thought banana peels were used as props to slip on in old comedy routines because they were cheap and easily obtained. But it turns out that banana peels on the sidewalk were a real problem at the turn of the last century.
Today, slip and fall insurance scams are frequently caught on video, so don’t even think about it.
THE WOMAN, THE BANANA PEEL AND THE DAMAGE SUITS: Mrs. Anna H. Sturla, Who Has Mad a High Record for Accident Cases, Will Have to Prove to the Court She Hasn’t Been Faking. (PDF)
From November 27, 1910
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