McDonald's Coffee Lawsuit: The Truth Decades Later
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Politics and Activism

McDonald's Coffee Lawsuit: The Truth Decades Later

You may find out the truth 20 years later…

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McDonald's Coffee Lawsuit: The Truth Decades Later

Who can forget arguably the most infamous lawsuit in the United States. If you forgot, here is a short summary of the “truth.” There was an old lady who placed a cup of hot coffee between her legs while driving. Some of the coffee spilled on her and she sued McDonald’s because she wanted to make money off the company for no good reason. If this is the story you heard congratulations… you are a big pawn in the game of world telephone. This is not the story guys, not even close.

First off this lady’s name is Stella Liebeck and in 1992, she was sitting in a parked car when she opened the lid and spilled the coffee on herself. Now I know what you’re thinking. OK, she’s still responsible for spilling the coffee even if she was not driving. Fair enough she is. But should the coffee spill cause third degree burns bad enough to leave the 79-year-old woman in a hospital for a week? Didn’t think so. All this lady wanted was for McDonald’s to cover her exorbitant medical bills totaling over $10,000.

Experts also discovered that the temperature of the McDonald’s coffee was 30 degrees hotter than a majority of household coffee brewing machines. She also asked if McDonald’s could lower the temperature of their coffee so no one else would suffer the burns that she did. McDonald’s only offered to pay $800 and refused to change the temperature of their coffee claiming it was “statistically inefficient”. (It’s not because between the years 1983-1992 there are over 700 recorded cases of people severely burning themselves with McDonald’s coffee and these are just the recorded cases.. but I digress). She took McDonald’s to court like a boss and won a large sum of money and not the 3 million you all heard she took home. Liebeck received a total of approximately $500,000 and she successfully lowered the required temperature of McDonald’s coffee.

This lawsuit led to a 10-degree decrease in the temperature of coffee and an increase in label warnings. This is an example of an average citizen taking on a major corporation to make a product safer for everyone. Stella Liebeck should be deemed a hero but instead she is portrayed as a greedy money hungry woman.

So OK, how is this relevant? This story went international and everything but the facts remained the same. The distorted story has become means to stop “frivolous lawsuits.” It’s “exhibit A” for tort reform, proposed changes in the civil justice system that aim to reduce the compensation the victim can receive. Tort reform will do the three following things:

  • To make it more difficult for injured people to file a lawsuit.
  • To make it more difficult for injured people to obtain a jury trial.
  • To place limits on the amount of money injured people receive in a lawsuit.

No bueno. The following quote from hg.org helps explain why tort reform would absolutely suck.

People who suffer injuries often require enormous amounts of money to retain any quality of life. This is not due to some sense of greediness or entitlement, but to the enormous costs of living, medical expenses, loss of income, and other burdens with which injured persons are suddenly saddled.

This twistdia from talk shows to news stations have completely changed a story and the fake story is more popular than the actual.ed anecdote was referenced on T.V shows like Futurama and Seinfeld. I just find it funny/sad/terrifying that multiple sources of me It just goes to show how important it is to take information with a grain of salt. You may find out the truth 20 years later…

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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