Monday, April 13, 2015

Remembering the McDonald's Coffee Lawsuit

Riding the train into the office, the discussions that take place around you can be rather entertaining. The most entertaining of last week was the in-depth legal discussion that took place Friday afternoon on the ride home. Four gentleman, large beers in hand, were having a rather loud discussion about the topics of the day (Yankees-Mets, the weather) before beginning on legal topics. There was no way to avoid the topic.

We started our review of the week’s legal topics with the police shooting in South Carolina. The consensus was quickly reached between the participants that they believed the policeman to be guilty, but that he would find some type of slimy lawyer who would get him out of the charges, just like OJ Simpson. To be fair to everyone in the discussion, the OJ Simpson trial was a completely different case than the current one, so I’m not sure I’d follow that analogy.

Our next review of the legal system took us to the recent gas explosion on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. The entire train car was again treated to an in-depth discussion of how the lawyers who would get involved would mess up the case. That day, the news in the local papers also focused on two young ladies who were planning on suing because they were unable to continue to live in New York City. As my new legal friends said, you can find any lawyer to file any lawsuit these days.

This led us to the most interesting part of the discussion to me, as they moved on to the Stella Liebeck litigation from 1992 – you probably know it as the McDonald’s Coffee lawsuit. Friday’s discussion focused on the horrible lawyers who had the lack of integrity to file the lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Liebeck, but seemed to really ignore what happened in that case. If you believed our train philosophers, Ms. Liebeck spilled a drop of coffee on herself and never deserved a dime.

If you really don’t remember the case, I would encourage you to do a little research and see if it reminds you what the case was really about:


What really stood out from listening to this discussion was that these gentlemen really did not know the facts or the law that was in play in any of the situations they were discussing. Instead, they were operating on the headlines from the newspaper without really understanding what the story was truly about.

One thing to remember is that at a newspaper, the person who writes the story usually does not write the headlines…

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