Almost all of us have heard about the lady who spilled McDonald’s coffee on herself that resulted in a jury verdict in the amount of $2.9 million. Big companies and interests harmful to victims’ rights scooped up the story, twisted the facts, and presented the case as an example of why laws needed to be changed to benefit big business, not real people.
The civil justice system has actually been under heavy strike for over 25 years.
A recent video article by The New York Times located here tells the true story. Stella Liebeck’s case against McDonald’s is “the most widely misunderstood story in America.” The perception is that Ms. Liebeck “won a lottery” according to Professor John Llewellyn of Wake Forest University, “but the facts are much more complicated than that.” The coffee spilled on Ms. Liebeck as she removed the lid to add creamer. The severity of Ms. Liebeck’s burns caused her to go into shock and she was rushed to the emergency room. She was burned over 16% of her body and many of the burns were third-degree burns. Third-degree burns are the most severe burns possible. Ms. Liebeck was in the hospital for a week and her bills totaled approximately $10,000.00. Ms. Liebeck had no intention of suing McDonald’s but did write a letter asking them to check the temperature of their coffee and to reimburse her (she was retired and 79 years old at the time) for the medical bills she incurred.
McDonald’s responded by offering $800.00. After McDonald’s insulting response, Ms. Liebeck hired a personal injury attorney. Ms. Liebeck had never sued anyone before in her life. Before the trial, Ms. Liebeck tried to settle twice out of court but McDonald’s refused.
The evidence showed that McDonald’s standard policy was to serve coffee at 180-190 degrees, but that this temperature could cause third degree burns in seconds. In addition, before Ms. Liebeck’s severe burns, McDonald’s had received almost seven hundred complaints from customers that they had been burned by McDonald’s coffee. Despite almost seven hundred injury complaints, McDonald’s never changed its policy. McDonald’s took the position that the many victims were “statistically insignificant” and McDonald’s was not going to change what it did.
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At trial, McDonald’s blamed Ms. Liebeck for spilling the coffee on herself. But the jury saw the graphic photos of the severe burns to Ms. Liebeck’s groin area requiring skin grafts to close the third-degree burns. The jury deliberated for four hours before returning a verdict of $200,000 for Ms. Liebeck’s compensatory damages, which was reduced to $160,000 because Ms. Liebeck spilled the coffee on herself. The jury, however, assessed punitive damages against McDonald’s to force them to change their temperature policy in the amount of $2.7 million.
The jury based this amount on the revenue from two days’ worth of McDonald’s coffee sales. The size of the verdict ultimately overshadowed the facts of the case. The media frequently failed to report the actual facts and how the jury reached its decision. Big companies and insurance companies used a twisted and incorrect version of the case to claim the legal system was out of control, even though nothing could be further from the truth.
ABC News called the instance “the poster child of too many claims”. Jonathan Turley called the instance “a purposeful as well as a worthy lawsuit”. McDonald’s asserts that the result of the case was a fluke, and also attributed the loss to bad communications and also the method by an unfamiliar insurance company representing a franchise business. Liebeck’s attorney, Reed Morgan, as well as the Association of Trial Attorney of America defended the cause Liebeck by claiming that McDonald’s minimized the temperature of its coffee after the fit, although it is unclear whether McDonald’s, as a matter of fact, had done so.
As a result of the case, HBO premiered a docudrama concerning tort reform problems. Ms. Liebeck’s story is detailed in this excellent documentary entitled Hot Coffee. A big portion of the film covered Liebeck’s claim. This included information clips, comments from celebrities as well as politicians about the situation, in addition to myths as well as false impressions, consisting of the number of people thought she was driving when the event happened and also assumed that she endured only small shallow burns. The film also discussed in fantastic deepness how Liebeck v. McDonald’s Dining establishments is frequently utilized and also misused to define a frivolous claim and referenced together with tort reform efforts. It competes that firms have invested millions of advertising misconceptions of tort instances in order to promote tort reform. In reality, most of the problems in the case were punished as a result of McDonald’s’ careless disregard for the variety of melt sufferers prior to Liebeck.
Although federal regulations have never ever been successful, industry interests have actually won in the hearts and also minds of average individuals. They launched a public connections campaign beginning in the mid-’80s as well as proceeding over the last twenty years to convince the general public that we have out of hand juries, way too many pointless suits as well as a civil justice system that requires changing. They have actually made use of anecdotes, half-truths as well as occasionally out and also out lies in their efforts, for one objective– to put restrictions on people’s accessibility to the court system, the one and only place where a typical resident can go toe to toe with those with money and power and still have a shot at justice.
We have more than 40 years experience helping individuals that have been harmed by the oversight or misbehavior of others. Take action if you or an enjoyed one has been damaged by someone’s carelessness as well as get in touch with Buchanan, Williams & O’ Brien today. You are worthy of a person you can depend defend your civil liberties. You are worthy of BWO). We are aggressive, zealous supporters for our customer’s civil liberties and also we are constantly striving to accomplish the very best possible outcomes. We have the experience and also resources to take your situation to trial if essential to maximize your healing.
Work with BWO to help you with your injury and work comp instances. At BWO, you do not owe us a dime up until we get cash for you. Various other sorts of cases are generally billed on an hourly basis. We are positive we can assist you so contact us currently. If you have been injured and need assistance, let BWO help you. Bear in mind when it pertains to injury and work compensation, no money for you, no fee for us.
BWO has the experience you need to get the outcomes you want. Missouri is the Show-Me State where actions speak louder than words. As a result, you will not owe us a dime unless we recoup money for you. So contact us today due to the fact that you have nothing to shed. Medical facility and house brows through are offered.