Most people know about the McDonald’s hot coffee case even though it has been over 15 years since it made headlines. What they likely remember hearing is that it a woman received a multi-million dollar reward for some spilled coffee. That is how politicians and large corporations spun the facts in order to start a tort reform movement in America and reduce awards to personal injury plaintiffs.
Now, a new documentary entitled “Hot Coffee” sheds some light on the truth about tort reform. What tort reform advocates leave out about the case is that the 79-year-old woman suffered severe third-degree burns to her thighs, buttocks, and groin from the Mcdonald’s coffee. She spent eight days in the hospital and underwent several skin grafts. In addition, she lost 20 pounds in the hospital and required two years of follow-up treatment.
The woman’s attorney presented evidence that Mcdonald’s served extremely hot coffee on purpose in order to cut down on customer refills. The fast-food giant also knew that the coffee lids were faulty but did nothing to correct it. The jury awarded the woman $2.7 million but the judge reduced the award. Mcdonald’s ultimately settled the case for a lesser amount.
The case ignited the debate on frivolous lawsuits in America’s courts. However, the facts surrounding the case show that it was hardly frivolous. An Indiana personal injury law firm recently blogged about the Hot Coffee documentary.
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