You’ve all seen television shows like Perry Mason, Boston Legal, and Law & Order in any of its incarnation where, once in awhile, the lawyers will argue that their trial is “one for the books”.  Today we will talk about such a case involving Stuckey’s that was indeed, one for the books as the case has been reviewed by law students and seasoned legal professionals alike since it was argued on September 11, 1970.

The scene of the crime – Stuckey’s Carriage Inn, Jekyll Island, Georgia

In the early humid evening of a late 1960’s stay in a Jekyll Island hotel room, Mrs. George Phillips was preparing to attend a banquet when she was suddenly met with an intruder that ended up leaving her “sprawled out with several injuries”. Whether the intruder intentionally meant for any harm to come to Mrs. Phillips is unknown because just as quick as he appeared and pawed and crawled his way all over Mrs. Phillips, he was gone, never to be heard from again.

This couple was lucky. They made it out of their room relatively unscathed unaware of the dangers that lay right in front of them.

Georgia is well-known for its palmetto bugs. They can be found in nearly every home and nearly every city throughout the state. From Atlanta to Zebulon, it doesn’t matter if your house is so clean it makes those chiming sounds when it sparkles like they do on those TV commercials – every house will see at least one palmetto bug during the summer, usually hanging out in the bathroom and looking at you like “What are you doing home so late?” when you first turn on the light and spot him in on the throne.

And they’re big, too! Like 2 or 3 inches long. And not only are they big, but they also fly, so that when you hear them coming at you in the dark, it sounds like one of those propeller-driven B-52 bombers that flew off course on its way to Robbins Air Force Base and it’s going to crash right into you!

“‘Sup.”

Also, they call them “palmetto bugs” as kind of a cute way to not have to face the truth. Dear readers, not to falsely prejudice you against the perpetrator of the crime we present here today, but let’s call them what they really are – Periplaneta Americana, otherwise known as the American cockroach, so there’s that.

Both the defendant – Stuckey’s Carriage Inn – and the plaintiff refused to confess to being the owner of the said cockroach. The defendant claimed it was brought in by Mrs. Phillips after having hitched a ride there as a stowaway in her luggage. On the other hand, the plaintiff claimed that it could only have come from outside among the leaves, grass and other vegetation, because, apparently, both humans beings and beasts found Stuckey’s Carriage Inn a resort haven.  In the end, since nobody would claim the cockroach and the cockroach was still on the lam, Mrs. Phillips decided to sue Stuckey’s Carriage Inn.

So, anyway, back to Room 219, Mrs. Phillips’ hotel room and that fateful night at the Stuckey’s Carriage Inn on Jekyll Island, where the plaintiff claims that, while she was getting dressed for a banquet that evening, she was putting on her make-up when she suddenly felt something crawling over her neck and shoulder. Seeing in the mirror that it was one of those large American cockroaches disguised as a palmetto bug, she immediately snatched off her jacket to her and flung it across the room in effort to get the cockroach away from her. This managed to work, as when she went to inspect her jacket, she didn’t find the cockroach anywhere, suspecting that it must have fled the scene.

So now, probably with a shiver and shudder, she placed her jacket back on and bent over to pick up her gloves so she could get the heck out of there.

However, the brute had other plans and was not finished with Mrs. Phillips just yet as at the very same moment she reached for her gloves, she felt something crawling on her thigh right above her stockings. Concluding that it was that pesky little cockroach that couldn’t take no for answer, she started freaking out, thrashing around the room and trying to raise her dress in an effort to dislodge the cockroach from further invading poor Mrs. Phillips privacy once again. While thrashing around in a frenzy, she somehow managed to entangle her foot in the bedspread which caused her to tumble and fall over a chair and break her leg. Thus, these are the reasons for the lawsuit she brought against Stuckey’s Carriage Inn which alleged that they were negligent in letting cockroaches enter the room without at least identifying themselves first, and that the motel had made up their beds in such a way as to  create a hazardous condition. 

(Reenactment. May be slightly exaggerated for artistic license.)

In the end, after Stuckey’s Carriage Inn submitted evidence of regular pesticide treatment at their establishment  and negligence could not be proven in the case of the low hanging bedspread, Judge Eberhardt dismissed the case for an appeal on October 5, 1970. 

Stuckey’s Carriage Inn continued to operate without incident after the alleged event. By the end of the decade, it was sold and changed it’s name to the Atlantic Carriage Inn, and then it became a Ramada Inn before it was eventually demolished in 2005.

Mrs. Phillips recovered from her broken leg, though who knows what psychological scars she may have carried from the terrible events of that night for the rest of her life.

Meanwhile in the banquet room, everyone is wondering what’s keeping Mrs. Phillips

The cockroach still remains at large, but is presumed dead since they only live two or three years, anyway.

We hope we’re not bugging you when we say that the next time you’re out on the road, stop at our nearest location and pick up some of our sweet treats, too. Whether it’s our famous Stuckey’s pecan log rolls (now in an even bigger 10 oz. size!) or our other fine pecan candies, don’t forget to get some extras for the folk back home. And what trip would be complete without a Stuckey’s t-shirt, cap or other Stuckey’s merchandise?

No Stuckey’s locations near you? No problem. You can still get our delicious Stuckey’s pecan log or other great pecan candies delivered right to your front door. How convenient is that? Find out more at stuckeys.com.