Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw & Ethics · 1 decade ago

Successful, insane lawsuits?

How do you win a ridiculous lawsuit such as a woman suing McDonald's for millions of dollars for spilling hot coffee on herself? Have any of you had any similar experiences?

3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    First - never believe everything you read.

    For example, your opinion might change if you learned that:

    1. McDonalds had previously received numerous complaints from CHILDRENS hospitals regarding scalding of children.

    2. McDonalds had already determined that the coffee was dangerously hot, and if drunk at the temperature set in their stores, it would not only be undrinkable, but could cause serious permanent injuries to people who drink it (this was not merely hot coffee).

    3. McDonalds had decided that the time lost in re-setting thermostats was not worth the money. HENCE, the big damages.

    4. McDonalds coffee is now substantially less hot than it was before the woman (who suffered third-degree burns, incidentally, requiring skin grafts and reconstructive surgery). Its still plenty hot -- and can give you first degree burns, but not third degree, debilitating burns.

    Ok, so what about the really ridiculous lawsuits?

    How about someone who falls off ladder, and then blames ladder company? Happens hundreds of times a year. But the fact is, that ladder companies win 85% of those lawsuits. Although rarely successful, the ladder companies spend tens of thousands of dollars on each case to defend the frivolous lawsuit.

    There are other ridiculous lawsuits.

    But who is to blame?

    The problem is, lawyers know that, if they sue, insurance companies will often settle for the costs of defense, rather than spend that money on a defense and still POSSIBLY lose. For example, if it will cost $50-$100k to defend a lawsuit (these numbers are real), then it makes sense to settle for $50,000-$100,000 (you would have spent it anyway on lawyers and experts) and KNOW you will not lose more.

    Is it the fault of the plaintiffs? No. In a capitalist society, the profit motive is pure. You cannot blame the plaintiff for following the profit motive.

    Is it the fault of the trial lawyer? No. They know that if they settle the case for $75,000 (middle number), they get $25,000. They know that 97% of all lawsuits filed result in a settlement.

    Is it the fault of the defense attorney? No, he is trying to defend the company.

    Is it the fault of the law? No, because someone who is really hurt due to someone else's negligence should be made whole (you broke it, you fix it).

    Whose fault is it? You bet - its the insurer. An insurance policy has two parts -- defense (they must provide a lawyer( and indemnity (payment for damages). Because they continue to settle stupid lawsuits, it provides the incentive for plaintiffs to continue to seek lawyers, and lawyers to file suit. If they would put more emphasis of defense, and trust that juries will do the right thing (which almost always happens), then lawyers will be far more reluctant to spend lots of their own money with a good chance of getting nothing back (plaintiff lawyers do not get paid unless the "win", whihc is almost guaranteed with insurers settling all the time).

  • Arthur
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Learn the details of the story before you post stuff like that.

    Things like McDonalds had already been warned by their own internal experts that their coffee was dangerously hot.

    And that the woman just didn't "spill hot coffee on herself", she had third degree burns that required skin grafts.

    And that she offered to settle for just her medical bills -- about $20,000, a few *seconds* of income for McDonalds -- but McDonalds refused.

    And that the judgment was later substantially reduced on appeal.

    Its not so ridiculous now, is it?

  • Mr G
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    As to the McDonald's case, that was overblown. The plaintiff was burned severely and it was clearly the fault of McDonalds.

    The cases that bother me the most are those where parent's sue auto manufacturers when their child is hurt in a car accident -- but the parents allowed them to sit in the front seat and they are injured by airbags.

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