McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit

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pages: 234 words: 53,078

The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer by Dean Baker

accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, Bretton Woods, business cycle, corporate governance, declining real wages, full employment, index fund, Jeff Bezos, McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit, medical malpractice, medical residency, money market fund, offshore financial centre, price discrimination, risk tolerance, spread of share-ownership

The Nanny State Conservative’s Myth of the Broken Legal System The nanny state conservatives illustrate the problem of the U.S. legal system with a collection of horror stories. Probably the most famous is the one about the elderly woman who won millions of dollars from McDonald’s after she burned herself by spilling hot McDonald’s coffee in her lap while driving. A close second is the story about the would-be burglar who broke his neck by falling through a skylight, and then won millions of dollars from the homeowner in damages. The lesson the nanny state conservatives would have us take from these stories is that the legal system is out of control.

The damages awarded in these 1 An account of this case can be found in Burke (2002, pp. 28-29). 68 cases, and many others like them, are not intended merely to compensate the people who had brought the suits, they are also intended to punish the defendants for what the juries viewed as bad behavior. The jury felt that McDonald’s had been wrong to risk burning customers by making their coffee unusually hot so that the company could save a fraction of a penny on every cup. They were not simply thinking of how to compensate the woman who was burned, they wanted to teach McDonald’s a lesson that would get them to change their practices. 2 Similarly, the jury that awarded damages to the injured student wanted to send a message to this particular school and others like it.


pages: 519 words: 104,396

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (And How to Take Advantage of It) by William Poundstone

availability heuristic, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, equal pay for equal work, experimental economics, experimental subject, feminist movement, game design, German hyperinflation, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, index card, invisible hand, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, laissez-faire capitalism, Landlord’s Game, loss aversion, market bubble, McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit, mental accounting, meta-analysis, Nash equilibrium, new economy, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Potemkin village, price anchoring, price discrimination, psychological pricing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, RFID, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, social intelligence, starchitect, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, ultimatum game, working poor

Reed Morgan, had ridden in this rodeo before. In 1986 he sued McDonald’s on behalf of a Houston woman who also had third-degree burns from a coffee spill. In his most mesmerizing Deep South baritone, Morgan advanced the legally ingenious theory that McDonald’s coffee was “defective” because it was too hot. McDonald’s quality control people said the coffee should be served at 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, and this was shown to be hotter than some other chains’ coffee. The Houston case was settled for $27,500. Morgan monitored subsequent coffee lawsuits closely. He knew that in 1990 a California woman had suffered third-degree burns from McDonald’s coffee and settled, with no great fanfare, for $230,000.

Market 52 For the Love of God 53 Antidote for Anchoring 54 Buddy System 55 The Outrage Theory 56 Honesty Box 57 Money, Chocolate, Happiness Notes Sources Index Part One “The more you ask for, the more you get” One The $2.9 Million Cup of Coffee In 1994 an Albuquerque jury awarded Stella Liebeck $2.9 million in damages after she spilled a piping-hot cup of McDonald’s coffee on herself. This resulted in third-degree burns and precious little sympathy from the American public. Late-night comics and drive-time DJs turned Liebeck into a punch line. Talk radio pundits saw the lawsuit as Exhibit A to What’s Wrong with Our Legal System. A Seinfeld episode had Kramer suing over spilled coffee, and a website inaugurated the “Stella Awards”—booby prizes for the wackiest perversions of the justice system.


pages: 283 words: 81,163

How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, From the Pilgrims to the Present by Thomas J. Dilorenzo

banking crisis, British Empire, business cycle, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Hernando de Soto, Ida Tarbell, income inequality, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit, means of production, medical malpractice, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, Money creation, Norman Mailer, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, Ralph Nader, rent control, rent-seeking, Robert Bork, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Tax Reform Act of 1986, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, wealth creators, working poor, Works Progress Administration, zero-sum game

For all practical purposes, “contracts are dead, at least insofar as they attempt to allocate responsibility for accidents, ahead of time.”14 Product safety standards have effectively been socialized, and lawyers now have incentives to spend their lives digging up cases and evidence against corporations because some consumers stupidly misused their products. An infamous example that was widely publicized is of an elderly woman who put a cup of piping-hot McDonald’s coffee between her legs while driving her car and scalded herself after making a sharp turn and spilling the coffee. She and her lawyers sued McDonald’s, accepting no responsibility at all for her own foolishness, and a jury originally awarded her a multimillion-dollar settlement. The award was eventually reduced to a mere $200,000 or so, and McDonald’s was apparently pleased to get off that cheaply.


pages: 215 words: 76,414

In Stitches by Nick Edwards

deskilling, job satisfaction, McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit, old-boy network

She had a known allergy, but says she now ignores all disclaimers for ‘may contain nuts or nut extracts or made in a factory where nuts are used or once been within a 50-mile radius of a nut’ otherwise she would have nothing to eat. They are now put on everything for fear of being sued and it is completely uninformative, so she ignores them all. One thing I don’t object to, and others do, are stupid warnings. For example: KP nuts, WARNING. MAY CONTAIN NUTS. McDonalds coffee, WARNING. CONTENTS ARE HOT AND MAY SCALD. I think these signs save the lives of a particular subgroup of people who often attend A&E and I thank the companies for their corporate responsibility. 9. The new ethos of excessive risk management and risk avoidance–schools and clubs are scared to take their kids on trips for fear of the consequences of an accident.


pages: 613 words: 181,605

Circle of Greed: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Lawyer Who Brought Corporate America to Its Knees by Patrick Dillon, Carl M. Cannon

accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Bear Stearns, Bernie Madoff, buy and hold, collective bargaining, Columbine, computer age, corporate governance, corporate raider, desegregation, energy security, estate planning, Exxon Valdez, fear of failure, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, illegal immigration, index fund, John Markoff, mandatory minimum, margin call, Maui Hawaii, McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit, money market fund, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Savings and loan crisis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, the High Line, the market place, white picket fence, Works Progress Administration, zero-sum game

Nor were class action securities suits often mentioned in Washington during Reagan’s time in the White House, and never once by the president himself. What animated Reagan, and ultimately the Republican Party, were so-called “frivolous” lawsuits, whose causes of action seemed tortured in their logic, or civil cases in which the verdict sounded comically excessive: $3 million in damages to the New Mexico woman who put her hot McDonald’s coffee cup between her legs—and was scalded when she opened the lid by pulling it toward herself; $2.7 million to the West Virginia convenience store clerk who claims she hurt her back opening a pickle jar; another $2 million to a doctor from Alabama who sued when BMW touched up his new car with paint without telling him.


Care to Make Love in That Gross Little Space Between Cars?: A Believer Book of Advice by The Believer, Judd Apatow, Patton Oswalt

Albert Einstein, Donald Trump, illegal immigration, McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit, Saturday Night Live, side project, telemarketer

To answer your question, this disturbing occurrence happened around the same time coffee got hoity-toity and phones became a hot topic of conversation. If I’m within earshot of you ordering a Venti Vanilla Soy Decaf Latte, prepare to have it spilled in your lap like that dumb cunt who burnt her cooch up with McDonald’s coffee ’cause she didn’t realize it was HOT! And if I’m at a party and you start telling me about the latest app you just downloaded for your brand-new Droid, pray you have an app for extracting the phone from your anus. So, Midge, have a good ol’ Hershey’s bar on me, and if you’d like to learn more about chocolate, buy my newest tome, Chocolate, Please: My Adventures in Food, Fat and Freaks.


You're a Horrible Person, but I Like You: The Believer Book of Advice by The Believer

Burning Man, haute cuisine, Kickstarter, Mahatma Gandhi, McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit, nuclear winter, Saturday Night Live


pages: 446 words: 126,222

The Lufthansa Heist: Behind the Six-Million-Dollar Cash Haul That Shook the World by Henry Hill, Daniel Simone

McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit, rolodex



pages: 585 words: 151,239

Capitalism in America: A History by Adrian Wooldridge, Alan Greenspan

"Robert Solow", 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, air freight, Airbnb, airline deregulation, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Asian financial crisis, bank run, barriers to entry, Bear Stearns, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, business cycle, business process, California gold rush, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, edge city, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, full employment, George Gilder, germ theory of disease, global supply chain, hiring and firing, Ida Tarbell, income per capita, indoor plumbing, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Mason jar, mass immigration, McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit, means of production, Menlo Park, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, popular capitalism, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, refrigerator car, reserve currency, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, savings glut, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strikebreaker, supply-chain management, The Great Moderation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade route, transcontinental railway, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, white flight, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Yom Kippur War, young professional

In 2013, a school district in Maryland banned, among other things, pushing children on swings, bringing homemade food into school, and distributing birthday invitations on school grounds.8 It continues in college, where professors have provided their charges with “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.” It extends to every aspect of daily life. McDonald’s prints warning signs on its cups of coffee pointing out that “this liquid may be hot.” Winston Churchill once said to his fellow countrymen, “We have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.”9 Today, thanks to a malign combination of litigation, regulation, and pedagogical fashion, sugar-candy people are everywhere.