Anyone else remember the McDonalds Hot Coffee case?
Marbury v. Madison, Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade? Ask anyone in the U.S. or abroad and they will likely tell you about a woman who spilled coffee on herself and collected millions of dollars. The McDonald’s coffee case became the poster child for frivolous lawsuits in America. Jerry Seinfeld did an entire episode where Kramer sued Java World after spilling a café latté on himself while trying to get a seat in a movie theater. Jay Leno, David Letterman and other comedians have made the case the punch line for jokes; there are even the “Stella Awards” (for Stella Liebeck), given each year to the most outrageous and frivolous lawsuits. But if this case was so ridiculous, why did a jury award $2.9 million dollars to this 79 year old after a seven-day trial in 1994? Did McDonald’s not have good lawyers? And how did this case gain such notoriety and remain in the minds of so many people after so many years?
The McDonald’s coffee case has been routinely cited by the media as an example of how citizens have taken advantage of the legal system. In this documentary, you will learn what really happened to Stella, meet her grandson, who was driving the car, and hear from her doctor, the lawyers, McDonald’s quality assurance manager, and the jurors. Was the media’s portrayal of this case fair or was there an agenda by tort-reform groups to create a public perception that lawsuits were out of control. How did it become the poster child for tort reform, what is tort reform and how does it affect everyday Americans?