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That McDonald’s “hot coffee” suit…

I think Delong would call this “for the Green Room” (ie: something to use when arguing a topic). On The Media” dissects the McDonald’s “hot coffee” lawsuit (transcript here):

SUSAN SALADOFF: Mrs. Liebeck was a passenger in a parked car. McDonald’s put the cream and sugar in the bag. This was an old- fashioned styrofoam cup, one of those small ones with a flat plastic lids that had the little triangular opening that nobody could actually open. And she tried to open that, couldn’t, so she took the top off. And the coffee was so hot that the cup literally collapsed. The coffee spilled into her lap, caused third degree burns, which are the worst kind of burns that anyone could get.

In fact, the quality assurance representative for McDonald’s testified at trial that you can’t drink coffee between a 180 and 190 degrees, which, in fact, was their holding temperature by policy.

First two things:

Even if it’s in the “news”, if it sounds crazy, maybe it is crazy. That is – often “news” (liberal, conservative, or otherwise) is distorted. Anecdotal crap gets forwarded as “fact”.

Second, sure there are a lot a skunky lawyers and skunky cases, but you have to ask, “Who has the most to gain here?” I’m willing to bet the corporate plutocracy, who pulls in an order of magnitude of $$$ over the lawyers, has more to gain by painting lawyers as evil and pressing for so-called tort “reform” than the lawyers do. Not to mention they have their own skunky lawyers fighting legitimate claims using skunky methods (and, often when it comes to “intellectual property”, making their own skunky claims).

You can say what you want, but one thing is for certain – limiting legal redress hurts the little guy (though, to be fair, so do false claims in passed off costs). Still, the legal system is designed to make it as fair for the little guy as the big guy – the alternative encourages a breakdown of civil society (if it’s not fair, why be fair?).

Unfortunately that imbalance appears to be growing daily.


Yes, as noted in the transcript, Susan certainly has a dog in this fight – she’s a former public interest lawyer (and creator of HBO documentary “Hot Coffee“). Still that doesn’t delegitimize what she’s saying…

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