HBO’s “Hot Coffee” Documentary Examines America’s Legal System and the $2.9M Personal Injury Verdict Against McDonald’s

June 30, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A new documentary on HBO is asking viewers to take a closer look at America’s legal system and think about whether or not it restricts the legal rights of those seeking civil damages for personal injuries. Former public interest attorney and first-time filmmaker Susan Saladoff made the documentary film.

The documentary focuses on four “exhibits.” There is the infamous “hot coffee” lawsuit, involving senior Stella Liebeck, who a jury awarded $2.9 million for injuries she sustained when she spilled a cup of scalding coffee in her lap while in a parked car at McDonald’s. Liebeck, who sustained 3rd degree burns and had to receive skin grafts and undergo years of costly medical care, soon became the butt of jokes for such a big reward. Meantime, corporate America used her case as an example for why states should set caps on injury damages.

Also under close scrutiny is the case of 15-year-old Colin Gourley, a victim of medical malpractice who sustained a traumatic brain injury during birth. Although a jury awarded his family $5.6 million to provide for him for life, the caps on non-economic and economic damages in Nebraska reduced the award to $1.25 million.

You can check your local cable listing to see when “Hot Coffee” is airing on HBO.

Our Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury law firm represent clients injured in accidents that were caused by other people’s negligence. It is so important that our legal system allows victims to be able to receive compensation for the harm that they suffered. Sometimes, injuries can be so severe that the victim may become disabled for life or no longer able to work. Medical and recovery expenses can be astronomical.

Hot Coffee, HBO

The McDonald’s Coffee Case, Lectlaw

Faces of Medical Malpractice, Center for Justice and Democracy (PDF)

More Blog Posts:
New North Carolina Medical Malpractice Bill Capping “Noneconomic Damages” at $500,000 Passes the State Senate, North Carolina Injury Lawyer Blog, June 13, 2011

American Academy of Pediatrics Want Warning Labels on Food that Pose a Child Choking Hazard, North Carolina Injury Lawyer Blog, February 24, 2010

Chapel Hill Daycare Operator Sued for Infant’s Traumatic Brain Injury, North Carolina Injury Lawyer Blog, July 22 2009


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