Archive for the ‘Burn Injuries’ Category

The TRUTH about the McDonalds
hot coffee case finally comes out.

You have to see this new HBO Documentary: HOT COFFEE.

I’ve been talking about the famous McDonald’s hot coffee case for a long time. In fact, I blogged about it on August 17, 2010 and November 3, 2010.

There is no question it is one of the most publicized and controversial lawsuits in U.S. history.


HBO has just released a new documentary movie that includes a lot of details about this amazing case. It will likely change your mind about personal injury lawsuits, for better or worse.


This is the link to the trailer. Take a look at it and let me know what you think! HOT COFFEE



Coffee Spill: Here We Go Again…

Starbucks won?  McDonald’s lost?  What’s going on?

In my blog entry on the McDonald’s Coffee Case  I explained how that case is one of the most misunderstood lawsuits in the history of mankind. Now we have another case that seems like the same case, except this time it is against Starbucks and this time the lady who was burned lost her case. So what’s up?

In this latest case Rachel Moltner, age 76, burned herself with a cup of Starbucks hot tea while she was in a Starbucks coffee shop.  As a result of spilling the hot tea on her left leg  Ms. Moltner had to have a skin graft. (Ouch!)

In the McDonald’s case the burn victim, Stella Liebeck, age 79, won her case (albeit she didn’t receive very much) because McDonald’s knowingly and intentionally kept making their coffee too hot, even after it had received more than 700 complaints. Bottom line, the McDonald’s coffee was, in fact, too hot.

In this new Starbucks case, the theory was different. In this case Ms. Moltner used the novel “Double Cup” defect theory! (one cup placed into another) The court dismissed the case and stated that the old “Double Cup” method is well known in the industry as a way to prevent people from burning their hands when the cup is too hot.  But Ms. Moltner had evidence that Starbucks had a directive to its employees that said you  should not use the double cup method because it changes the center of gravity of the cup and makes it more likely to tip over.  The court said no case.

So what’s the moral of the story? Well, I can think of a couple. First, if you drink hot drinks, you may wind up with a serious burn and have to have painful skin grafts. Second, when you file a lawsuit, even if you think you have a great case and even if you know someone else who has won a case like yours before, you may still lose.

Bottom line: Be careful….

San Bruno Tragedy. Lawyers Beware!

Good for the State Bar of California!

I just read the notice placed on the California State Bar web site telling sleazy lawyers to stay away from the victims of the tragedy in San Bruno. The State Bar also notifies the victims that they should beware of  the illegal “runners” and “cappers” who may try to approach them to sign them up with a lawyer. State Bar Notice.  The State Bar of California recommends that anyone from this disaster who feels they need to consult with a lawyer should consider contacting a certified lawyer referral service. The notice goes on to state:

“If an injured person or family member believes that they have been improperly solicited by or on behalf of an attorney, they should immediately report the matter to the State Bar at (800) 843-9053″.

In this day and age of ambulance chasers, which unfortunately gives all good and reputable lawyers a bad name, I applaud the State Bar for coming out with this notice to the public.

McDonald’s Coffee Case

I feel sorry for Stella Liebeck.

She was the 79 year old lady who had the living sh#t burned (third degree) out of her groin (private parts) by a cup of McDonald’s coffee which must have felt like it had been brewed directly on the surface of the sun.

We have all burned ourselves with some type of hot water or hot liquid, but I’ve never had any liquid touch my skin that was SO HOT it caused me to have multiple skin grafts, a seven day hospitalization and over $200,000 in medical bills (and that was in 1992).

Not only did she experience the type of excruciating pain that most of us will never know, she (or at least her case) became known as the poster child for “frivolous lawsuits”. Too bad for Stella, because nothing could be further from the truth.

McDonald’s (or more appropriately the insurance lobby) lead us all to believe that this crazy old litigious lady was driving around with at hot cup of coffee acting like a wild cowboy, spilled it all over herself and then blamed poor old Ronald McDonald for her burns. Poor Ronald!

In reality, good old Stella may have been in the car, but she wasn’t driving. She and her grandson were parked in the McDonald’s parking lot. All she was doing was taking the top off the coffee cup so she could pour in a little cream and sugar. Maybe she wasn’t supposed to put cream and sugar into her coffee!

This sweet old lady had never before in her life filed a lawsuit (that’s 79 years of life) and in fact she didn’t even want to file this one but stingy old McDonald’s wouldn’t even help out by offering a few bucks to help cover the deductible on her $200,000 plus medical bills.

Before this cup of hot lava burned through Stella’s crotch (all the way down to the bone), McDonald’s had received over 700 claims (that’s a lot of notice) regarding coffee burns suffered by its customers and it had paid out over $500,000 in damages to burn victims for the injuries their molten delight was causing. Either they were incredibly stupid, or they were intentionally trying to incinerate all of their customers.

During the trial McDonald’s own quality assurance manager admitted that the corporation was well aware of the major risk its ridiculously hot java caused to its unsuspecting customers, but (paraphrasing) it didn’t give a sh#t. In fact, the McDonald’s defense to the case was that, get ready for this, …it was Stella’s fault because she didn’t strip her flaming hot pants off fast enough (in front of her grandson) thereby causing her own burns and because her withered and  thin 79 year old skin was not as fire proof as normal skin is for a “younger individual”. It’s no wonder the jury was so mad at McDonald’s that it hit the corporation with at 2.7 million dollar judgment. If I had been on that jury it probably would have been for 207 million dollars!

What you didn’t hear (and this stuff never comes out in the news) is that the 2.7 million dollars was reduced by procedural motions to $480,000 and that after paying off all of her medical bills, court costs and attorneys fees, Stella wound up with next to nothing.

The moral of the story is don’t believe everything you hear about lawsuits! (but you already knew that)

To learn more about this case go to CAOC.