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|Subject: Re: Hot Coffee||Date: 3/1/2013 3:55 PM|
|Author: 1poorguy||Number: 418736 of 451259|
It's interesting that this McDonald's coffee case has entered urban folklore as an example of a frivolous law suit and outrageous jury rewards.
In my b-school business law course it was presented as a cut-and-dried, textbook case of corporate irresponsibility and liability.
Yes, that was the point of the film (if you haven't seen it, you really should). The corporate lobby PR machine kicked into high gear to create what you just described. And they met with dazzling success such that many states (especially Texas, IIRC) have awards caps. Sometimes they are ridiculously low for the damage inflicted (they covered one case where a young man was going to need something like $5M for lifetime care, which the jury awarded, but the judge reduced to the statutory limit of something like $1.2M).
Those lobby groups all tried to sound like "concerned citizens". But they were all fronts for the corporate lobby trying to limit the right of the people to seek redress against them in the courts.
And while I hate to beat the Dubya drum four years after he's out of office, but he was a HUGE proponent of these limits. He harped on them consistently as governor of Texas (signing limits into law), and continued harping on them as POTUS (mentioning them in multiple SotU addresses). We can't blame it all on him (well, Texas can), but he did give the corporate lobbies even more clout.
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