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The "sue culture" of the US will never not be funny to the rest of us. ;)
28th December 2012
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Iceland's Demon Cat
30 days ago
We (French) also sing our national anthem. It's bloody enough...
27 days ago
The "sue culture's" not much better up here in Canada, either. I probably could have made an easy million dollars when I got hit by a car last year. Instead I settled for twenty-five-hundred because I'm not a selfish prick and that's all it was honestly worth to me.
1 month ago
It is the most threatening.
1 month ago
Louisiana: *yells angrily* "VIVA LA LOUISIANA!!!!"
1 month ago
I am offended by this post, I am going to sue! (uh, by the way, I am only joking)
2 months ago
I have no problem with the document you're presenting, though biased as it is, it still illustrates perfectly why you are wrong.
Before I go any further I want to address your misguided example of labeling on peanut packages. I understand how people without a nut allergy could be amused by the seemingly obvious labeling. The reason it says "may contain nuts" on peanut packages is that peanuts despite their name ARE NOT nuts. They're legumes - related to beans and peas more than the regular tree nut. A peanut allergy, and a nut allergy are two very different things. Someone who is allergic to nuts can eat peanuts, but if the peanuts are processed along with regular tree nuts it can cause huge problems. That's why its's necessary to label them, and it's also why not all peanut packages are labeled "may contain nuts" Often it's more important to seek out information that to let your brain make assumptions.
Now from the top. No one is arguing whether or not Stella was partly at fault, she was. Both the jury and judge agreed on this and reduced both compensation and punitive damages. No one is saying she didn't know it's hot, she did. However all this is irrelevant. It's not a matter of hot and cold, but HOW hot?
Hot enough to cause significant damage in a matter of seconds? Yes.
Hot enough to be a dangerous product? Yes.
Now whatever temperature experts say you're supposed to serve coffee at is also irrelevant it was admittedly unscientific and a matter of opinion over taste. I'll let experts argue over taste all they like it has nothing to do with safety - An expert race car driver might say that to fully enjoy a Ferrari you have to hit a 100 km/h in 3,2 seconds and drive it at 250 km/h however that doesn't mean you are allowed to do it on a public road, and it's a flawed comparison anyhow because whatever temperature they do recommend I'll bet you they don't recommend serving it in a Styrofoam cup which structurally speaking isn't as robust as a standard ceramic coffee cup - and no, I'm not claiming it has relevance to this specific case just pointing out that you're not using all factors when making comparisons.
Now you go on to some anecdotal nonsense about what you personally do, and repeat that the jury found her partly at fault - I don't know why it's relevant what you do since you're not the topic of this conversation neither why you feel the need to repeat information - perhaps to emphasize that the jury was sympathetic, however there's no such thing as thing as an unbiased jury - emotions will always play their part when people judge people. This can be a good thing as easily as a bad one.
Now you quote the settlement part, which is the part where the bias seeps through. I don't know why though - Is it relevant? We can only speculate on the reasons, you yourself seem to agree on this so why is it important?
I'm going to quote you here because you start the next section with: "That's exactly the reason why a jury system can come to some results that has to have a mentally averagely sane person just shaking their head." However you provide no reason. What does the word "That" represent in the context of your argument? You follow it up with "Press enough correct buttons and have the juries crying in their seats and a frivolous case such as this actually get's past the first five sentences." If this line of text is what the "That" represents then you've seemingly forgotten that a jury is consisting of normal people who unanimously agreed that there was a problem. Sympathetic or not, six men and six women sat down for four hours and decided that spilling a cup of coffee should not result in 2 years of medical treatment. Which is a reasonable conclusion.
Now for the last part about Italy. I'm a Dane who has visited Italy twice. The first time seeing Rome and the second skiing in northern Italy by Gressan and however romanticized your idea of Italy is I can tell you from personal experience that you're dead wrong on this point. Not only is the coffee often served at a lower temperature than the rest of Europe it's customary to always serve coffee at a temperature so that you can drink it in one smooth mouthful - the only thing you're right about is that they do know their coffee. I'll provide an article with some information from the Istituto Italiano Espresso Nazionale if you'd like to verify beyond my anecdotal experience:
To summarize: While jury's are susceptible to emotional appeals I think you more than they have judged based on emotion. I understand how it can be easier to say "look at the idiots labeling peanut packages" or "That women was just stupid, I'm much smarter" but in the end it's all about the coffee. Which was unfit to drink when served due to temperature. So hot that it could cause severe burns in a matter of seconds and served in Styrofoam cups which where flawed, susceptible to damage and dangerous. The jury decided that based on these facts the product had breached it's implied warranty of fitness for its intended purpose and therefore found for the plaintiff.
And Th-th-th-that's all folks!
2 months ago
There was hundreds. however that's irelevant to the point. Punitive damages are awarded (as I said) to make companies STOP or CHANGE harmful practises. That's why they're damn high. They have nothing to do with who or how many are suing. They are based on the company's SIZE and PROFIT. In this case it was based of how much they made on coffee in two days.
If you gave Mc'D a 1000$ fine they'd be like; alright, I guess we're not changing anything.
There's no question that putting a hot coffee between your legs isn't the brightest of ideas, which is why the punitive damages was significantly lowered. However serving something that can give you a severe third degree burn in 5 seconds isn't bright either.
2 months ago
Please be so kind to refer to this document:
This sounds suspiciously like your argument.
As you have so graciously outlined it in your post below I won't have to paraphrase it.
Please also check the lower parts of that document. Not just the parts that fit your case.
Here it states (quote): "Even in the eyes of an obviously sympathetic jury, Stella was judged to be 20 percent at fault -- she did, after all, spill the coffee into her lap all by herself. The car was stopped, so she presumably was not bumped to cause the spill. Indeed she chose to hold the coffee cup between her knees instead of any number of safer locations as she opened it."
Next quote: "Coffee is supposed to be served in the range of 185 degrees! The National Coffee Association recommends coffee be brewed at "between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal extraction" and drunk "immediately". If not drunk immediately, it should be "maintained at 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit." This is the exact temperature that McD's served their coffee at from 1982 to 1992.
And again, personally, if I get handed a steaming hot cup of coffee I usually tend to *FEEL* the heat in my hands, so yeah, if I still retain half of my brain I *should* be able to notice that: "Hmmm, heat in my hand from cup might mean that coffee is also hot, so be careful." If I can't string those two facts together maybe I should ask for a brain graft instead of a skin graft.
So in this case even a sympathetic jury found her 20% at fault. That's from a sympathetic jury! Consider what the unsympathetic juries might have found her at fault for! But we don't know that because it's not documented.
Both McD's and Stella Liebig decided to settle out of court because both sides found this to be in their best interests. I would believe McD's thought it best to not involve their name in such a mostly self-inflicted case (per my book); and Stella probably thought it best not to reveal her own stupidity even more to the world. Maybe she did not want to be subjected to the abuse she lavished on herself by going to court and asking for such a ridiculous settlement amount. Yet again, we won't know.
That's exactly the reason why a jury system can come to some results that has to have a mentally averagely sane person just shaking their head. Press enough correct buttons and have the juries crying in their seats and a frivolous case such as this actually get's past the first five sentences.
And no, despite the fact that I abhor most of McD's practices concerning items previously deemed worthy to be food, if I would have been a jury in such a case I'd have given them less than a slap on the wrist. Rather I'd have told them to print : "Warning: heat indicates possibility of burns. Use your brain judiciously." on their cups instead of the typical US stupidity: "Warning. Contents may be hot." And forced them to still release their coffee at the minimum recommended temperature.
Punitive damages? For this?!?
It's identical to the warning on peanut packages: "Warning. May contain nuts."
Please, people, use your brains... it's not that difficult.
And please, people who desire hot coffee from being banned: never come to a good Italian restaurant where they serve real Italian Espresso... that is frickin' hot without any warning printed on the outside of the cup. So please, leave the Italians alone, they will never concede to serve lukewarm brew; they know about quality coffee and how it is to be consumed: with style, and gusto, and a reasonable approach to life. Some things have to be served HOT!
To return to the final sentence of that document:
"Abuse of the system is going on, and sometimes judges and juries grievously err and set terrible precedents." Read the book about it.
3 months ago
Correct me if I am wrong, but don't you have an inate feeling that placing something HOT that you were just handed between your legs is, well, let's say, somewhat stupid?
There is simply something that could be called basic human sense which she obviously did not apply. Yes, I feel for her burns and her pain but to me most of that was in effect self-afflicted. It was not as if somebody at McD's told her to place it between her legs; or spilled it over her, or deliberately or accidentally made the coffee extra hot to burn people, or made the cup extra flimsy so it would break easily.
Rather they served *hot coffee*, period. If I want luke-warm coffee I'd make it myself. If I get handed a hot cuppa joe then I'm not going to place it in a place where it's probably gonna burn myself.
As the case was indicated to me, she was sitting in the passenger seat in the parking lot of a non-moving car, but the accounts of what actually happened vary a lot, so I had hoped for the least frivolous version, ie, non-moving car, passenger seat. All other cases are even more ludicrous. You don't drink a hot cuppa while driving, nor do you clamp it between your legs while driving, especially when you just opened the top, thus decreasing the stability of the container drastically.
So let's return to the most reasonable version. Well, in that case there is something called a dashboard in cars. In most cars it's reasonably flat so it would have been a nearly ideal place to set a hot cup of coffee. No, instead of a *reasonable* place, clamp it between your legs. Yeah, reeeally mature and sensible.
Sorry, I definitely dont see a) litigation amount of $600.000 of either punitive payments nor b) a full number of $2.9 million to be a reasonable amount for ONE case. If there had been hundreds of such cases, maybe; but definitely not for one case.
The problem with the $2.9 mil was that the lawyers get their payment by the total amount of litigation set of by the court, iirc. So the lawyers reaped a huge cash bonus just for that.
That's where those huge sums come from. It's not the plaintives or defendents who usually get the big money; it's normally the lawyers. Slaking their thirst for big money by upping the amount of litigation to totally ludicrous levels seems to be a typical symptom of the system. Not very pleasant in my opinion.
3 months ago
To add to the coffee story, there are laws regulating food temperature. The coffee was hotter than liquids are legally allowed to be served. They were violating safety regulations. (Former cook here.)
2 months ago
Ehh, so in the US you get that lukewarm, brownish, bitter liquid called coffee because it's what the law has decided should be the maximum temperature a supposedly *hot* coffee should be at?
Please tell me they didn't apply that law to real Italian Espresso, too?
Because that's definitely immensely hot. And it has to be!
Boy, am I happy not to be living in the USA!
In Germany at least I have a chance to get a *HOT* coffee.
It's worse than I ever imagined: brains actually seem to be in even shorter supply among plaintives/juries/judges/senators than I believed it to be possible.
And to think that the USA still have the biggest supply of nuclear weapons... <shudder>
3 months ago
That's really misleading. Back then Mc'D coffee was served at a very high temperature and something like 700 hundred people had, had burn damage from spills. Antiscald.com puts 3'rd degree burns at about 5 seconds exposure to 60 degree celsius and the coffee served was atleast 80.
Mc'D was aware they had a product that was dangerous and didn't do anything about it. When they were finally sued they lost and had to pay 160.000 to the old woman.
So where does the 2-3 million figure come from? It comes from the punitive damages. Punitive damages are money the company is forced to pay in order to deter them from continuing the dangerous practices. The 2.6 million dollars in this case is based on the profit from 2 days of coffee sales from Mc'D. The number was lowered to around 600.000$ and in the end settled for less out of court.
This woman was burned really badly and then mocked for months on national tv because "woman spills coffee - gets 2 million dollars" is better news material than the full story - Don't believe me? Google the pictures. I've spilled many a cup of coffee on myself, but it's never burned me like that.
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