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Thread: The Truth Behind 'The Most Widely Misunderstood Story in America'

  1. #1
    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Feb 2007

    Default The Truth Behind 'The Most Widely Misunderstood Story in America'

    The Truth Behind 'The Most Widely Misunderstood Story in America'

    It is at once the most ridiculed and most misunderstood lawsuit in American history.
    Most people say they know some of the facts: An old lady from New Mexico who spilled McDonald's coffee on herself while driving successfully sued the company for a million bucks by claiming their coffee was too hot.

    But most people don't know any of the facts.

    Then-79-year-old Stella Liebeck was sitting inside a parked car when the spill occurred. She suffered horrific third-degree burns that required skin grafts to repair. Liebeck only sued McDonald's to cover the cost of her medical bills after company threw an insulting $800 worth of hush money at her. It was the jury who decided to award Liebeck $2.9 million in punitive damages after her attorney demonstrated a willful disregard on McDonald's part for the scores who have been similarly scorched by their way-too-hot 190-degree coffee over the previous decade.

    Nonetheless, Liebeck only ended up with $500,000 after all was said and done.

    The facts have always been out there, but thanks to powerful McDonald's PR and a complacent and sensationalist media, they've been cast aside in favor of a more corporate-friendly call for tort reform.

    In its latest installment, The New York Times' Retro Report looks back at Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants, and examines how the facts got lost, misreported, or, in some cases, distorted outright.

    It's a vital documentary short not just for its own sake, but for the sake of realizing how little we actually know about the things we say you do.

    Update 3:26 p.m.: I linked to it above, but before it becomes the only comment, please make sure to watch Hot Coffee.

    It's a 2011 documentary feature by Susan Saladoff that takes a more expansive look at Liebeck within the context of an ongoing corporate push for tort reform that marginalizes the legitimate complaints of consumers.

    [video via NYT]
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  2. #2
    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    Wherever my kids are


    Their coffee is STILL too f*cking hot!!!
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  3. #3
    Silver Member yowzers's Avatar
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    Apr 2013


    I saw the pictures of her injury, it was horrendous! Poor woman

  4. #4
    Elite Member DeChayz's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    New Jersey


    Hot Coffee was a great documentary - very informative & eye-opening.

  5. #5
    Elite Member Trixie's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    exiled and ostrich sized


    I've never seen the documentary, but I worked in insurance claims for several years, so I know how these big corporations operate. Fight to the bitter end, because they have the means to do it and most people will buckle. They won't just admit liability because it might harm their brand and open up the floodgates to similar actions. They turned this case into a punchline for frivolous-lawsuit jokes. Obviously it wasn't one, but that really didn't matter.
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  6. #6
    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    In the "D"


    In my third year at Ford, in 1980, there was a huge layoff, an elimination of a management layer, and management demotions - mostly guys 40+ years old. People were devastated, and 10 guys started a class action lawsuit against Ford for age discrimination. Went on for about 10 years; one by one, every complainant except one dropped out, and the last guy was finally awarded about $3M, his dismissal from the company, and was told to never speak of it again. Yeah, big corporations have the time and the experienced attorneys to wait it out. Kudos to my friend Terry who stuck it out; he invested his winnings and became an engineering consultant.
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