Hot Coffee

Remember the story of Stella Liebeck, the woman who sued McDonald’s for spilling coffee on her and ended up getting a $2.9 million settlement? Remember how everyone thought it was a joke? Susan Saladoff has produced a documentary for HBO called Hot Coffee about this story and the broader issues of tort reform, which is usually just another name for allowing corporations to get away with murder while individuals are deprived of their rights to seek justice. There is an excellent interview with Saladoff on FAIR this week that is well worth listening to.

There are many things that most people think they know about the Liebeck case. Here is a list and the correct information

Media Lie: the woman was driving when the coffee was spilled. The Truth: she was the passenger in a parked car.

Media Lie: she was simply burned. The Truth: she was so severely burned that doctors had to graft tissue from he thighs into her sexual organs.

Media Lie: she was greedy. The Truth: she only wanted McDonald’s to pay for the part of the surgery that Medicaid did not pay for.

Media Lie: she sued for millions. The Truth: McDonald’s only ever offered her $800 up to the case going to trial.

Media Lie: this was an isolated incident. The Truth: McDonald’s had paid out money to over 700 other people for severe burns from their super-heated coffee.

If you have HBO, be sure you watch it. Otherwise, here is the trailer:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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