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  1. #1
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    Holy smokes, lawsuits

    2003 Stella Award Candidates


    Candidates for the annual "Stella Awards" are named after 81-year-old Stella
    Liebeck who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonalds. That
    case inspired the Stella Awards for the most frivolous successful lawsuits
    in the United States. The following are this year's 7 Stella Award Winners
    candidates...


    1. Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $780,000 by a jury of
    her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running
    inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably
    surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving little toddler was Ms.
    Robertson's son...


    2. A 19-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses
    when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman
    apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he
    was trying to steal his neighbor's hub caps...


    3. Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had
    just finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the
    garage door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He
    couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and garage
    locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation, and Mr. Dickson
    found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of
    Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food. He sued the homeowner's
    insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury
    agreed to the tune of $500,000...


    4. Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded $14,500 and medical
    expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbor's
    beagle. The beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. The award was
    less than sought because the jury felt the dog might have been just a little
    provoked at the time by Mr. Williams who was shooting it repeatedly with a
    pellet ***...


    5. A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster,
    Pennsylvania, $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her
    coccyx. The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson had thrown it at
    her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument...


    6. Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a night
    club in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the
    floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms. Walton
    was trying to sneak out without paying her check, awarded $12,000 and dental
    expenses...


    7. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma purchased a brand new 32-foot
    Winnebago motor home. On his first trip home, having driven onto the
    freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers
    seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly,
    the R.V. left the road. The owner's manual did not say that he couldn't
    actually do this. The jury awarded him $1,750,000 plus a new motor home. The
    company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit, just in
    case there were any other complete morons buying their recreation
    vehicles...


    One of GWB's positives is the fact he wants a 250K cap on pain and suffering given for medical malpractice Woohoo.

    I'm thinking about suing Cannondale for pain and suffering as that is a large part of what road biking is about, or maybe I should sue whoever decided that road should go directally over a hill, all I need is a jury of my peers, any volunteers? I'll split the profit, I mean compensation!

  2. #2
    Mercrudgeon Bikedud's Avatar
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    IF these cases are true, which quite frankly I can't imagine that they are, the jury and/or judge needs to be taken out and shot.

    Then again, if my memory serves me correctly, the reason that bicycles come with a sticker on the top tube warning against "riding at night, without lights, etc." is because an individual successfully sued Derby Cycles. The fact that he was going down hill, late at night, and ran a stop sign causing him to be hit by the car didn't seem to matter. So much for personal responsibility;
    can you say Tort Reform?
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  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    I didn't even think to question their validity, looks like they are unsustantiated, but here is the site with some "real" lawsuits. http://stellaawards.com/2003.html

  4. #4
    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    They are not true all of them are false. Another thing people should know is that in the case of most civil suits where juries award outragoues sums are overturned on appeal and the victims end up with more reasonable amounts. That includes Stella herself.
    Matthew 6

  5. #5
    Rider in the Storm
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    The above are all fabricated stories. See, http://www.stellaawards.com/bogus.html.

    But, these aren't:

    http://www.stellaawards.com/2003.html

    The 2003 True Stella Awards Winners
    by Randy Cassingham
    Issued 21 January 2004

    #8: Stephen Joseph of San Francisco, Calif. Joseph runs a non-profit group whose goal is to ban the "trans fats" used in many processed foods and which are indeed very unhealthy. But to help gain publicity for his cause, Joseph, an attorney, chose one food that uses trans fats -- Oreo cookies -- and sued Kraft Foods for putting the stuff in the snack. The resulting publicity over "suing Oreos" was so intense that Joseph dropped the suit after just 13 days. He never even served the suit on Kraft, showing that he had no interest in actually getting the case heard in court. What real cases got pushed aside during his abuse of the courts to get publicity for his pet organization?

    #7: Shawn Perkins of Laurel, Ind. Perkins was hit by lightning in the parking lot Paramount's Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio. A classic "act of God", right? No, says Perkins' lawyer. "That would be a lot of people's knee-jerk reaction in these types of situations." The lawyer has filed suit against the amusement park asking unspecified damages, arguing the park should have "warned" people not to be outside during a thunderstorm.

    #6: Caesar Barber, 56, of New York City. Barber, who is 5-foot-10 and 270 pounds, says he is obese, diabetic, and suffers from heart disease because fast food restaurants forced him to eat their fatty food four to five times per week. He filed suit against McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC, who "profited enormously" and asked for unspecified damages because the eateries didn't warn him that junk food isn't good for him. The judge threw the case out twice, and barred it from being filed a third time. Is that the end of such McCases? No way: lawyers will just find another plaintiff and start over, legal scholars say.

    #5: Cole Bartiromo, 18, of Mission Viejo, Calif. After making over $1 million in the stock market, the feds made Bartiromo pay it all back: he gained his profits, they said, using fraud. Bartiromo played baseball at school, but after his fraud case broke he was no longer allowed to participate in extracurricular sports. Bartiromo clearly learned a lot while sitting in federal court: he wrote and filed his own lawsuit against his high school, reasoning that he had planned on a pro baseball career but, because he was kicked off the school's team, pro scouts wouldn't be able to discover him. His suit demands the school reimburse him for the great salary he would have made in the majors, which he figures is $50 million.

    #4: Priest David Hanser, 70. Hanser was one of the first Catholic priests to be caught up in the sex abuse scandal. In 1990, he settled a suit filed by one of his victims for $65,000. In the settlement, Hanser agreed not to work with children anymore, but the victim learned that Hanser was ignoring that part of the agreement. The victim appealed to the church, asking it to stop Hanser from working near children, but the church would not intervene. "It's up to the church to decide where he works," argued the priest's lawyer. When the outraged victim went to the press to warn the public that a pedo priest was near children, Hanser sued him for the same $65,000 because he violated his own part of the deal -- to keep the settlement secret. The message is clear: shut up about outrageous abuse, or we'll sue you for catching us.

    #3: Wanda Hudson, 44, of Mobile, Ala. After Hudson lost her home to foreclosure, she moved her belongings to a storage unit. She says she was inside her unit one night "looking for some papers" when the storage yard manager found the door to her unit ajar -- and locked it. She denies that she was sleeping inside, but incredibly did not call for help or bang on the door to be let out! She was not found for 63 days and barely survived; the formerly "plump" 150-pound woman lived on food she just happened to have in the unit, and was a mere 83 pounds when she was found. She sued the storage yard for $10 million claiming negligence. Even though the jury was not allowed to learn that Hudson had previously diagnosed mental problems, it found Hudson was nearly 100 percent responsible for her own predicament -- but still awarded her $100,000.

    #2: Doug Baker, 45, of Portland, Ore. Baker says God "steered" him to a stray dog. He admits "People thought I was crazy" to spend $4,000 in vet bills to bring the injured mutt back to health, but hey, it was God's dog! But $4,000 was nothing: he couldn't even take his girlfriend out to dinner without getting a dog-sitter to watch him. When the skittish dog escaped the sitter, Baker didn't just put an ad in the paper, he bought display ads so he could include a photo. His business collapsed since he devoted full time to the search for the dog. He didn't propose to his girlfriend because he wanted the dog to deliver the ring to her. He hired four "animal psychics" to give him clues to the animal's whereabouts, and hired a witch to cast spells. He even spread his own urine around to "mark his territory" to try to lure the dog home! And, he said, he cried every day. Two months in to the search, he went looking for the dog where it got lost -- and quickly found it. His first task: he put a collar on the mutt. (He hadn't done that before for a dog that was so "valuable"?!) After finding the dog, he sued the dog sitter, demanding $20,000 for the cost of his search, $30,000 for the income he lost by letting his business collapse, $10,000 for "the temporary loss of the special value" of the dog, and $100,000 in "emotional damages" -- $160,000 total. God has not been named as a defendant.

    And the winner of the 2003 True Stella Awards: The City of Madera, Calif. Madera police officer Marcy Noriega had the suspect from a minor disturbance handcuffed in the back of her patrol car. When the suspect started to kick at the car's windows, Officer Noriega decided to subdue him with her Taser. Incredibly, instead of pulling her stun *** from her belt, she pulled her service sidearm and shot the man in the chest, killing him instantly. The city, however, says the killing is not the officer's fault; it argues that "any reasonable police officer" could "mistakenly draw and fire a ******* instead of the Taser device" and has filed suit against Taser, arguing the company should pay for any award from the wrongful death lawsuit the man's family has filed. What a slur against every professionally trained police officer who knows the difference between a real *** and a stun ***! And what a cowardly attempt to escape responsibility for the actions of its own under-trained officer.

  6. #6
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    They are not true all of them are false. Another thing people should know is that in the case of most civil suits where juries award outragoues sums are overturned on appeal and the victims end up with more reasonable amounts. That includes Stella herself.

    Thank god

  7. #7
    opinionated SOB cycletourist's Avatar
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    RE: suing Cannondale

    that's not such a crazy idea.

    A Cannondale owner with a herniated disc could sue the bike company for selling bicycles with handlebars that are too low. Since it is easy to demonstrate that riding such poorly designed bicycles hyperextends the back and increases the risk of a herniated disc, AND that the average bicycle buyer is not aware of this, AND that the bicycle is designed in a way that makes the handlebar non-adjustable so the customer can't fix it... he would probably win the lawsuit.

    I'm a little suprised this hasn't happened already.

  8. #8
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    Suing a bike company for riding a poorly fitting bike calls for vigelante justice, nothing less, make an example of the sicko.

  9. #9
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    These are however are real:


    Excerpted from:
    Merv Grazinski: An Urban Legend
    by Walter Williams (January 6, 2004), in Capitalism Magazine


    The wife of a hockey fan who crashed his car after drinking too much at a Minnesota Wild game has sued the team, saying her husband who was paralyzed in the Feb. 8, 2002, auto crash shouldn't have been served so much alcohol.

    According to the July 10, 2002, Akron Beacon Journa, "Two carpet installers who admit they read the label of an adhesive they used, admit they understood the adhesive was flammable and should not be used inside, used it inside anyway, caused an explosion, were burned badly, sued and won $8 million dollars."

    According to the April 18, 2003, Indianapolis Star: "A convicted robber is suing the convenience store clerk who shot him as he fled after a holdup. Willie Brown, 44, claimed the clerk acted 'maliciously and sadistically' in firing five shots as Brown ran out of Zipps Deli with money from the store's cash register." Brown, who has earlier convictions for robbery and burglary, pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to four years in prison.

    In Galveston, Texas, a jury awarded $65 million to the parents and estate of a woman who drowned after her car rolled off a boat ramp. She couldn't disengage her seat belt. The jury found Honda of America Manufacturing Co. Inc. and Honda R & D Co. Ltd. 75 percent responsible for the death of Karen Norman, even though her blood-alcohol level measured at nearly twice the Texas legal limit (.17). Fortunately, an appeals court threw out the award, which a trial judge had previously reduced to $43 million.
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  10. #10
    Jungle lady cbhungry's Avatar
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    Here is another one

    Earlier this year, an internist in Ohio lost a wrongful death lawsuit involving an obese smoker who died of a heart attack. The jury awarded the family $3.5 million in part because they felt the physician did not do enough to help the man lose weight. The case is being appealed.
    And public interest lawyers who are going after fast-food companies for possibly playing a role in the obesity epidemic have said physicians, too, may become targets if they don't do enough to help their patients slim down.

    On the other side are members of the fat acceptance movement. These are people who fight to be accepted at the size they are, even if that size is defined medically as a serious health risk.

    Organizations such as the National Assn. to Advance Fat Acceptance and the International Size Acceptance Assn. fight against discrimination on the basis of size in all walks of life, including the exam room.

    "There's a lot of anger and mistrust of the medical community within [this] community," said Allen Steadham, director of ISAA. "The weight in and of itself is not a dangerous medical condition. We don't see obesity as a disease."
    docs will get sued for telling their patients are fat and also for not doing enough to lose the fat...whatever that is, beating our heads against the wall, advocating excercise and good nutrition and prescribing pills with possible incredible side effects may not be enough. One doctor I know is being sued for recommending gastric bypass surgery that resulted in too much weight loss....oh well.
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  11. #11
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    Uuuugh, gastric bypass... probably the person got freaked out when they saw all the excess folds of skin hanging all over them and slapping around when they were walking. All those fat people using gastric bypass need to get their butts outside and walk and limit their caloric intake first. Then let's see what happens once they drop the first hundred pounds.

    I'm taking the other side as far as the McDonald's case- to me, it looked clear that the particular McDonald's this lady went to was aware that the coffee served was way hotter than normal- dangerously hot. Why does a cup of coffee need to be heated above 150 degrees? Then they hand it to her through her window without sealing the cap, and the coffee empties into her lap, giving her burns on her hands, legs, arms, and her privates. That was just nasty. Granted, she got a lot of money- I would have limited the award to something reasonable plus medical costs, but when you are at fault, and you are made aware of the problem but do nothing for it, and this results in someone getting hurt, don't be surprised to be standing in court.

    Again, not saying the award wasn't excessive- I thought it was. At the same time, I have to pause to consider the blame McDonald's has based on their lack of action to correct a problem. This particular location did not follow the franchise protocol, and as a result, someone was injured. So they paid up.

    Koffee

  12. #12
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    As I understood it in the Mc donalds case, the cup was a two piece design, with a bottom piece and a cone side. These two pieces were fused together. This fused area failed and the bottom fell off the cup.

    Having had a cup of McD's coffee, the only reason I can see for getting it would be because it is hot.
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  13. #13
    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    Her'e what really happened with the Stella case.


    http://www.stellaawards.com/stella.html

    OPPORTUNISTS AND )
    SELF-DESCRIBED VICTIMS )
    ) StellaAwards.com
    Plaintiffs, )
    ) pleading before the
    vs. )
    ) Court Of Public Opinion
    ANY AVAILABLE DEEP POCKETS )
    AND THE U.S. JUSTICE SYSTEM ) Stipulates the Facts from
    )
    Defendants. ) The "real" Stella's Case
    _____________________________)

    May it please the court: We know quite well that not all of the cases we present will turn out to be frivolous abuse of the American Justice System. Many of these cases indeed involve real issues, real injuries, and deserve real compensation. And some don't. That's why we stress that you should read the cases before you judge.

    How about, for instance, Stella herself? Much of the coverage about Stella Liebeck has been grossly unfair. When you have a more complete summary of the facts, you might change your mind about her. Or maybe not -- that's up to you. Did you know the following aspects of the Stella vs. McDonald's case?

    Stella was not driving when she pulled the lid off her scalding McDonald's coffee. Her grandson was driving the car, and he had pulled over to stop so she could add cream and sugar to the cup.
    Stella was burned badly (some sources say six percent of her skin was burned, other sources say 16 percent was) and needed two years of treatment and rehabilitation, including skin grafts. McDonald's refused an offer to settle with her for $20,000 in medical costs.
    McDonald's quality control managers specified that its coffee should be served at 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit. Liquids at that temperature can cause third-degree burns in 2-7 seconds. Such burns require skin grafting, debridement and whirlpool treatments to heal, and the resulting scarring is typically permanent.
    From 1982 to 1992, McDonald's coffee burned more than 700 people, usually slightly but sometimes seriously, resulting in some number of other claims and lawsuits.
    Witnesses for McDonald's admitted in court that consumers are unaware of the extent of the risk of serious burns from spilled coffee served at McDonald's required temperature, admitted that it did not warn customers of this risk, could offer no explanation as to why it did not, and testified that it did not intend to turn down the heat even though it admitted that its coffee is "not fit for consumption" when sold because it is too hot.
    While Stella was awarded $200,000 in compensatory damages, this amount was reduced by 20 percent (to $160,000) because the jury found her 20 percent at fault. Where did the rest of the $2.9 million figure in? She was awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages -- but the judge later reduced that amount to $480,000, or three times the "actual" damages that were awarded.
    But...

    The resulting $640,000 isn't the end either. Liebeck and McDonald's entered into secret settlement negotiations rather than go to appeal. The amount of the settlement is not known -- it's secret!
    The plaintiffs were apparently able to document 700 cases of burns from McDonald's coffee over 10 years, or 70 burns per year. But that doesn't take into account how many cups are sold without incident. A McDonald's consultant pointed out the 700 cases in 10 years represents just 1 injury per 24 million cups sold! For every injury, no matter how severe, 23,999,999 people managed to drink their coffee without any injury whatever. Isn't that proof that the coffee is not "unreasonably dangerous"?
    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. Should she have taken more responsibility for her own actions?
    And...

    Here's the Kicker: 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". (Source: NCAUSA.) Exactly what, then, did McDonald's do wrong? Did it exhibit "willful, wanton, reckless or malicious conduct" -- the standard for awarding punitive damages in New Mexico for awarding punitive damages?
    The Court of Public Opinion has also issued its verdict: Stella has become an American icon. Rightly or wrongly, she is a symbol of the American Tort system gone wrong, and most have heard of her case -- and have an opinion on it. For more than 10 years, the term "Stella Award" has been used to refer to any lawsuit that sounds outrageous. Because of this huge name recognition, we chose to continue the name that has captured the public's attention like no other: "Stella Awards". But rather than use fabricated stories to illustrate a real problem, our goal is to legitimize the "Stella Awards" name by reporting real case stories (in the This is True tradition) to get the point across much more powerfully.
    Matthew 6

  14. #14
    Are we having fun yet? Prosody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
    I'm taking the other side as far as the McDonald's case- to me, it looked clear that the particular McDonald's this lady went to was aware that the coffee served was way hotter than normal- dangerously hot. Why does a cup of coffee need to be heated above 150 degrees? Then they hand it to her through her window without sealing the cap, and the coffee empties into her lap, giving her burns on her hands, legs, arms, and her privates. That was just nasty. Granted, she got a lot of money- I would have limited the award to something reasonable plus medical costs, but when you are at fault, and you are made aware of the problem but do nothing for it, and this results in someone getting hurt, don't be surprised to be standing in court.

    Again, not saying the award wasn't excessive- I thought it was. At the same time, I have to pause to consider the blame McDonald's has based on their lack of action to correct a problem. This particular location did not follow the franchise protocol, and as a result, someone was injured. So they paid up.

    Koffee
    My wife the attorney told me that this woman's award was less than McDonald's one-day receipts for coffee sales. An award that is less than a day's sales of one tiny part of McDonald's product line really is not an excessive award. It was chump change to McDonald's.
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  15. #15
    Almost Immortal The Rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChezJfrey
    #2: Doug Baker, 45, of Portland, Ore. Baker says God "steered" him to a stray dog. He admits "People thought I was crazy" to spend $4,000 in vet bills to bring the injured mutt back to health, but hey, it was God's dog! But $4,000 was nothing: he couldn't even take his girlfriend out to dinner without getting a dog-sitter to watch him. When the skittish dog escaped the sitter, Baker didn't just put an ad in the paper, he bought display ads so he could include a photo. His business collapsed since he devoted full time to the search for the dog. He didn't propose to his girlfriend because he wanted the dog to deliver the ring to her. He hired four "animal psychics" to give him clues to the animal's whereabouts, and hired a witch to cast spells. He even spread his own urine around to "mark his territory" to try to lure the dog home! And, he said, he cried every day. Two months in to the search, he went looking for the dog where it got lost -- and quickly found it. His first task: he put a collar on the mutt. (He hadn't done that before for a dog that was so "valuable"?!) After finding the dog, he sued the dog sitter, demanding $20,000 for the cost of his search, $30,000 for the income he lost by letting his business collapse, $10,000 for "the temporary loss of the special value" of the dog, and $100,000 in "emotional damages" -- $160,000 total. God has not been named as a defendant.
    I read about this man in the newspaper and my heart went out to him, me being an animal lover. Then of course he found the dog, and since then has acted like an idiot, or rather shown himself to be the idiot he's been all along. I was really annoyed. Actually more than annoyed. It depressed me greatly, couldn't go to work for days, my faith in my fellow man badly shaken. And now you people have brought all the bad memories back! This whole thread is in such deplorable taste and you should all be made to pay!.
    "Ignorance begets confidence more frequently than does knowledge." -Charles Darwin


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  16. #16
    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prosody
    My wife the attorney told me that this woman's award was less than McDonald's one-day receipts for coffee sales. An award that is less than a day's sales of one tiny part of McDonald's product line really is not an excessive award. It was chump change to McDonald's.

    MacDonald's may have done better for their PR if they had settled for dr bills. But as a former restaurant worker and owner I found it inexcusable to sue them on the fact the coffee was hot. Seeing that it was kept at the temperature standard for the whole industry. There should be some personal responsibility on Sheila's part here she was old enough to know that coffee is a hot beverage. To me it is like the smokers who sue the tobacco companies I was a smoker for 27 years every single pack of smokes I ever bought had a warning on the side and no one was forcing me to smoke. I will accept any health issues that may come of this as my error in judgment.
    Matthew 6

  17. #17
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    Tobacco is a slightly different story. They add secret ingredients to make their product even MORE addictive so it is harder to quit. I smoked for 10 years (quit in 1994) and it was the hardest thing I ever did.

    RE: the mcDonald's case. The restaurant I was working for at the time stopping putting self-serve soup on the buffet because of the McDonald's coffee lawsuit. The health department required us to keep soup above 140 degrees farenheit and the owners were afraid that some joker would try to copycat the McDonalds lawsuit.

  18. #18
    Approaching Nirvana megaman's Avatar
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    140 degree water is to hot by far to hot shower in. Anything over 110 is hot. Yet to drink anything only 110 degrees(if it were supposed to be hot) we would complain that it's to cold. In order to slow bacteria growth in food it should be kept warm to at least 140. Our policy at work is to throw out anything not maintaining that tempurature.
    But coffee, if you had it only 140, you probably wouldn't drink it unless you decided to make ice coffee.
    Now blend in our current passion blaming everyone but ourselves for things that happen to us not even caused by someone else= law suit.
    The one thing I just can't figure out is the fast food industry offering drivethru foods. They actually promote eating and driving. They've even had TV commercials on promoting that. More distractions=more accidents.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."
    -- Albert Einstein

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    Great guy poululla's Avatar
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    Only in the USA can a person be rewarded for his own stupidity...

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    Senior Member
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    Only in the USA can a person be rewarded for his own stupidity...
    And not be granted the right to kill themselves.

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