Sunday, December 19, 2004

Too Hot For Court

It's the case that has become synonymous with greedy lawyers, the poster child for frivilous lawsuits in America, the case so famous that Seinfeld devoted a whole episode to making fun of's the case of the hot coffee burns. Of course, we all know the story. A woman spills coffee on herself, sues McDonald's, and wins millions of dollars. And the cry of protest is always the same..."coffee is supposed to be hot!"

I think I'll call them "true urban legends," stories that go around that seem to illustrate what's right or wrong in society. Lots of people have heard of them...the woman who leaves a homeless man embedded in her windshield, for example...and have strong opinions, but few know the actual facts. For example, how old was the woman who got burned? Why didn't McDonald's just settle the case out of court? And why would 12 sane people decide she deserved all that money.

So here are the facts, once and for all, from an article in the Wall Street Journal. Are there crazy lawsuits? Yes. But I don't think this is one of them.


Mauricem said...

Man, I gotta thank you for that article because it's a real eye-opener. The comment "callous disregard for the safety of the people" is probably the most accurate one. To McDonald's, giving third degree burns to 1% of their customers is completely justifiable. It also reminds me of "SuperSize me" and the point they were making. If the company is completely unconcerned about scalding their customers, how concerned can they possibly be about contributing to an unheathly lifestyle?
Makes you think.
By the way, I found a link to something called the "Stella awards" were they give awards for the most frivilous law suits.

Mauricem said...

Dear sir,
Our lawyers have warned us that it's possible for people to be seriously burned by our products, and so we now print burn warning labels on each cigarette. As always, the health of our consumers is our most important concern.
RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co.

glomgold said...

There's definitely no real argument to support that lady who left the homeless guy to die in her windshield though! I mean, unless the guy was Hitler (hence the real mentioned above).

Monkey Migraine said...

In the case of the man embedded in the woman's windshield, the actual facts were less dramatic than what was first reported. I heard claims that the man was alive for days, that the woman would come out and feed him, etc. In the trial, they proved the man was dead a few hours after the crash. Horrible, yes, but not that bad.