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Mekugi
19th July 2003, 03:47
I was jsut sent this, I am not sure that any of them are true (other than Stella Liebeck), but to be honest if they were, it wouldn't surpise me.


STELLA AWARDS

It's time once again to consider the candidates for the annual Stella
Awards. I liked #7, the last one of the list the best.

The Stella's 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 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 gun.

5. A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of
Lancaster, PA, $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her
coccyx (tailbone). 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 through the window in the ladies room to
avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental
expenses.

7. This year's favorite could easily be Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma. Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand new 32-foot Winnebago
motorhome. 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 freeway, crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago
for not advising him in the owner's manual 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.


Only in America!
God help us

Vapour
20th July 2003, 00:57
I've seen this posted somewhere else. Some of them are internet myth. Other, if they were compensated were actually quite legitimate claim edited to looks like a ridiculous one. The legal case of Stella is a good example. The lady had very legitimate case.

Jason Couch
20th July 2003, 01:07
Untrue. As a sidenote, the Stella case is fairly horrific and by no means a "frivolous lawsuit."

Mekugi
20th July 2003, 08:31
Umm...

Stella spilled coffee on herself. It burned her. McDonalds' employees did not jump out of the restaurant and shake her hands to make it spill on her. She is responsible for herself, she spilled something on herself and that is her own darned fault and I don't care how old she is (was).

I am not a fan of huge companies, however that lawsuit is idiotic. If I spill something on myself, then I am responsible. Show me one other place where that does not hold true? If I smash my hand with a hammer, do I blame the person I bought it from?

-Russ

Vapour
20th July 2003, 08:51
http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm

As far as I can see McDonald was seriously negligent about consumer safety. Another thing you can learn is that journalist would do anything to make a story more interesting so they can sell it better.

Recently, Fox news won a court case in wrongfull employment termination where they fired a journalist who refuse to lie about the safety concern of growth hormone. As far as I know, Fox news won this legal case based on the defence that they have first amendment right to lie so they did nothing wrong.

Of course, this story could be edited to look like another example of outrageous corporate media behaviour. Or may be not.

Mekugi
20th July 2003, 09:54
Ummm..

Still not convincing me. This drivel is taken seriously by ambulance chasers.

She spilled the coffee. She made the boo-boo, she is responsible.

If she drank the coffee, it would have burned her mouth. Common sense tells you that judgement is ESSENTIAL here. Those "essential facts" are just re-hashing how the case was won, and indeed are not facts.

FACT: Stella spilled the coffee.

FACT: McDonalds did not spill the coffee.

FACT: People are responsible for accidents resulting from their own negligence and carelessness.

She knew it was hot. Hot things are, in fact, dangerous.

If this burned through the cup and spilled all over her legs, that would be something different. However, that is not the case.

She did it, not McDonalds. The only negligence here is with the court system and the idiots that are sueing because they hurt themselves from being careless.
Darwinism is being ignored for the persuit of $$.

So, now McDonalds puts "COFFEE IS HOT" on the side of their cups. As if we didn't already know that spilling coffee on yourself is not dangerous. I mean, where is the common sense?

Good gawd man!

-Russ


Originally posted by Vapour
http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm
As far as I can see McDonald was seriously negligent about consumer safety. Another thing you can learn is that journalist would do anything to make a story more interesting so they can sell it better.

Mekugi
20th July 2003, 10:06
Originally posted by Vapour
As far as I know, Fox news won this legal case based on the defence that they have first amendment right to lie so they did nothing wrong.


There is no First Amendment "right to lie". There is, however, the "scream fire in a crowded theater" issue.

-Russ

sean dixie
20th July 2003, 10:18
Couldn't agree more Russ.It's all about personal responsibility.It is a shame to see abused a system designed to protect people from abuse or company neglect. Also seems to be coming more prevelent over here in the UK, people sueing for the silliest things, at least we seem to have a far more sensible payout system with regard to the amounts payed.

Think I'll go trip over something:D

Mekugi
20th July 2003, 10:41
Fer real man!
I wanna get rich injuring myself!
I will give up a finger for 8 million!

-Russ


Originally posted by sean dixie
Couldn't agree more Russ.It's all about personal responsibility.It is a shame to see abused a system designed to protect people from abuse or company neglect. Also seems to be coming more prevelent over here in the UK, people sueing for the silliest things, at least we seem to have a far more sensible payout system with regard to the amounts payed.

Think I'll go trip over something:D

Vapour
20th July 2003, 11:42
I merely pointed out that you can not base your argument on her case. In fact, most Stella award case cannot happen. Think carefully, if you think the claim is stupid, the jury would think likewise too. So it is more likely that all these case listed are false or you weren't told the whole story.

As of Fox case, true, constitutionally speaking, there is nothing wrong about jounalist blatantly liying as long as s/he doesn't break law (defamation and so on). So spining or editing out important information is nothing. But I refered it as example that journalist integrity is a thing of the past when media organisation fight in the court based on defence that they have right to lie.

http://www.2dca.org/opinion/February%2014,%202003/2D01-529.pdf

If people are bothered to read actual court transcript, we don't have such thing as Stella Award.

Soulend
20th July 2003, 11:50
I still think the coffee case was absolutely ridiculous, even after reading the link that Vapour provided. Whether at 155 or 185 degrees, coffee is hot and will burn you. Surely after 81 years of walking this earth, Stella knew this. She spilled it, and I'm inclined to believe that even if it had been at a lesser temperature she would have sued them anyway.

I can only hope that the other cases mentioned are myth. This society is steadily getting more preposterous, not taking responsibility for their own actions and assigning blame to providers of goods and services instead. Just like suing a gun maker if someone uses their product to shoot somebody. Believe as you like about gun laws, but if somebody is hurt with a currently legal product through misconduct, misuse, negligence, or plain old clumsiness then to say the fault lies with the manufacturer or provider is a load of bollocks.

If only common sense were available in pill form.

Vapour
20th July 2003, 13:53
Even though many are aware that coffee could be hot, not many are aware that it could cause third degree burn. What got McDonald busted was that they were in fact aware of large number of customers who were burnt by their coffee and fail to reduce temparature or give warning to its danger. I'm not sure U.S. rely solely on court and/or mere industry specific safety regulation but in some country where they have single product liability legistration, this fall into classic case of where coporation is liable.

As of *this* Stella award, it is fake. But this fake letter inspired real Stella award. Here is the link.

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stella_Liebeck_v._McDonald's_Corporation

Soulend
20th July 2003, 15:23
Even though many are aware that coffee could be hot, not many are aware that it could cause third degree burn.
And if she had been aware that it could cause a third degree burn, or if it had a warning on the cup, then she would not have spilled it on herself?


What got McDonald busted was that they were in fact aware of large number of customers who were burnt by their coffee and fail to reduce temparature or give warning to its danger.
Large number? 700 clumsy people over a period of ten years? McDonald's serves over 2.5 million people every day in the U.K. alone! (http://www.bized.ac.uk/compfact/mcdonalds/mc23.htm)

According to the article you cited, coffee made in the home is generally 135 - 140 degrees in temperature, and the argument seems to be that McDonald's simply kept their coffee too darn hot. However, third-degree burns have been caused by a half-minute exposure to water which is only 130 degrees. (http://www.tap-water-burn.com/) So who do we sue when we burn ourselves at home? Mr. Coffee? Folger's?

It's ridiculous - simple denial of responsibility and money-grubbing. God bless the ambulance chasers and politicians for protecting us from ourselves, life is so much easier when you don't actually have to think about the consequences of your actions.

Soulend
20th July 2003, 15:41
Fahrenheit, Kenzo :)

Vapour
20th July 2003, 16:33
700 is only the ones reported to McDonald. Plus there are good chance that all these 700 are serious burn because most peopld who weren't seriously burned wouldn't bother to report it.

I'm not sure the law concerning product liability in U.S. but if they have passed the PL legistration as in many country, burden of ensuring the safety is on producer. They could get busted even if they follow all regulation imposed by the government for each industy.

If any product, whether it is car or coffee, cause injury, producer are legally obliged to warn consumer for its possible danger and/or if they can, they must take action to eliminate such danger. McDonald did none of these.

I certainly don't believe that the lady should have been awarded millions but she clearly had the case. And the system worked. The higher court reduced the compensation. Plus, I should point to you that the lady initially asked McDonald only for her medical bill. Only after she refused, she took McDonald to the court. She won against such mightly corporation only because the falut of McDonald was very clear.

Soulend
20th July 2003, 17:57
Even if it were 10,000 burns in ten years, that is still a tiny fraction of the total number of people that bought McDonald's coffee during the same period.

If any product, whether it is car or coffee, cause injury, producer are legally obliged to warn consumer for its possible danger and/or if they can, they must take action to eliminate such danger.
And this is where it is getting out of hand. Some conditions and dangers should certainly be warned about or acted on - adverse drug reactions, unexpected operation under certain conditions, etc. But for heaven's sake, come on..is it really neccesary to warn people that hot liquid can burn you, brand new knives out of the box can cut you, and that if you ram your car into a tree at 80 m.p.h. it could kill you? Where did the 'reasonable man' test go? Must everything be dumbed-down to mongoloid level under the threat of a lawsuit? At what point does common sense apply?

The initial cause of the injury was her spilling the coffee, which is abnormal operation of the coffee. If it were advertised as being good for topical use, then the lawsuit would have made sense.

If I were to go drop an anvil on my foot, do I go suing the anvil company because the box didn't state that it was heavy?

Reminds me of a warning sticker I saw on a chainsaw once: 'Warning! Do not attempt to stop blade with hand!'

She won against such mighty corporation because the legal and social climate today is ridiculous, and getting more stupid by the year. Oh well, I guess the argument's pointless because the fact is that she prevailed, which is empiric evidence that it is not difficult to find 12 idiots to rule in favor of a 13th one.

Nice cup of steam ya got there, Ken! :laugh:

Jason Couch
20th July 2003, 20:20
Originally posted by Soulend

She won against such mighty corporation because the legal and social climate today is ridiculous, and getting more stupid by the year. Oh well, I guess the argument's pointless because the fact is that she prevailed, which is empiric evidence that it is not difficult to find 12 idiots to rule in favor of a 13th one.

Not according to the jury. They were (quite reasonably) initially upset that they were impaneled to hear a case that sounds so stupid on the surface. It was the callous disregard of McDonalds as shown by the evidence that eventually persuaded them. A disregard even the judge felt necessary to comment upon in a post-verdict hearing, even though he reduced the size of the judgment.

BTW, the jury did find that Stella was also at fault, 20% to be specific. In a comparative negligence state, the award will be reduced 20% because of that, as it was here. Most comparative negligence states won't award anything if the plaintiff is 50% or more to blame. A handful of states, MD for instance, won't give an award if there is any negligence on the part of the plaintiff.

Soulend
20th July 2003, 21:50
'The jury' is the 12 idiots I referred to. Callousness does not equal legal liability. Despicable and heartless, yes. But it does not alter the facts of the case, which are:

A) One can reasonably expect that a cup of coffee purchased from McDonald's will be very hot when first received. Anyone who has attempted to drink one shortly after receiving it knows this, and I'm fairly doubtful that in her many years of life Mrs. Liebeck had never had a coffee from McDonald's. Even if she had not, one can feel the heat from the cup.

B) One can safely assume that regardless of where purchased, a cup of hot coffee (as opposed to iced coffee) will burn you if spilled upon your skin. As already referenced, a liquid of even as little as 130 degrees F can cause third degree burns within half a minute. 130 degrees is less than a coffee maker would make at one's own home.

C) The exact temperature of the coffee played no part in it's being spilled. Therefore, she would have spilled it regardless of it's temperature, which, even if 140 degrees (the temperature of homemade coffee), would have burned her seriously.

D) Even if the cup had in big bold letters "THIS COFFEE IS HOT AS HELL!", she would have spilled it anyway, as it was an accident to begin with. Who says, "Well, this hot coffee is X number of degrees so I'll use X amount of care with it"? The human pain threshold is around 106-108 F, so any hot coffee hurts like a sonofabitch, which prompts any coffee drinker to use care in it's handling regardless of whether it's 120 F or 211 F.

I wonder how many people have burned themselves since McDonald's started printing "Caution! Hot!" in different languages on the cups...probably precisely the same. "Oh wait a minute, this coffee is different from the one I got at McDonald's in 1991! It's HOT!! I better be extra careful with this one!" What a bunch of bullsh*t. She should have been 100% liable for her own clumsiness, and if it is due to her advanced years, she should have not been handling hot coffee in the first place.

Anyway, who cares..she won. It will always be an idiotic case to me.

Jason Couch
20th July 2003, 22:39
Originally posted by Soulend
'The jury' is the 12 idiots I referred to. Callousness does not equal legal liability. Despicable and heartless, yes. But it does not alter the facts of the case, which are:


I think you're missing the point, as I am talking about legal liability. The fact of the spilling and who did it actually has little to do with whether Ronald is liable or not.


B) One can safely assume that regardless of where purchased, a cup of hot coffee (as opposed to iced coffee) will burn you if spilled upon your skin. As already referenced, a liquid of even as little as 130 degrees F can cause third degree burns within half a minute. 130 degrees is less than a coffee maker would make at one's own home.


That is basically the point, coffee of 180-190 casues deep tissue burns in a handful of seconds. They sell it at a drive-thru. Not only is it foreseeable that customers may spill it in their vehicle when adding the separate cream and sugar, they had actual notice that around 700 customers, including children, were getting burned, some so seriously that Ronald was paying out $500,000 on some of the settlements.

The point is that in your car, you can spill 140 degree coffee, stop, take off the seatbelt, hop out and yank your pants off in 30 seconds. You certainly can't do that in 2-7 seconds with coffee 180-190 degrees. Resulting in your weeks in the hospital, including the debridement of the skin on your genitals and thighs, then skin grafts to replace the skin. All because McDs chooses not to follow the industry safety standard.

I'm not trying to convince anyone that this verdict was right, because obviously any case where the plaintiff is substantially to blame for their misfortune can be argued morally either way. But that doesn't mean a case is frivolous. Under the law, this was not a frivolous case.

Soulend
20th July 2003, 23:57
The fact of the spilling and who did it actually has little to do with whether Ronald is liable or not.
Guess that's why I'll never understand civil law. The spill is the reason she was burned...because hot coffee, by definition, is hot. As far as I know, prior to this lawsuit there was no "industry safety standard" for how hot you should maintain your coffee. Perhaps I am wrong....could you show me where this pre-1992 standard is written?


The point is that in your car, you can spill 140 degree coffee, stop, take off the seatbelt, hop out and yank your pants off in 30 seconds.
Yeah, I'm sure a woman of her age could do this. What really happens is you say 'ARRRRTRRRGGGGHH!!!!! GOD**** IT!!!!' and swerve into oncoming traffic.

Anyway, it. You fart and someone sues you these days.

Jason Couch
21st July 2003, 00:18
As far as I know, prior to this lawsuit there was no "industry safety standard" for how hot you should maintain your coffee. Perhaps I am wrong....could you show me where this pre-1992 standard is written?

Sorry, not my field, but industry safety standards are normally shown through expert witness testimony. They will normally be able to cite industry standards. The fact that they are being paid $300/hr is beside the point :-)

Soulend
21st July 2003, 00:28
OK, so you are basically making things up, because you have no knowledge of any such standard, most likely because it did not exist.

Vapour
21st July 2003, 03:50
If U.S. has PL legistration, the safety standard is set at point whatever where consumer get hurt. The burden is on producer rather than consumper to prevent injury.

I feel that you are missing the point. You seems to feel that spilling a coffee is so common that claim cannot be taken seriously. Law works in other way. If spilling coffee is so common, it makes McDonald *MORE* liable as forseeability of injury increase rather than decrease liability. The fact that they *KNEW* their customers were being injured and did nothing when they could by simply reducing the temparture make this case pretty clear cut case.

In PL case, if a product injure consumer in normal course of using products, it is responsibility of the producer to prevent such injury if they could. Spilling content of drink in paper cartoon is so much of likely occurence especially if one is driving (remember, McDonal has drive through) that, combined with fact that they could prevented the injury by simply reducing the temparature, make this case very clear cut. That is why, I suspect, a mighty corporation like McDonald lost the case including punitive damage. Only point which could be up to debate was HOW MUCH (in punitive sence) McDonald was liable. That is why upper court reduced the damage.

It is a good example of how the system worked well.

Soulend
21st July 2003, 10:38
So if the safety standard is set to whereever the consumer gets hurt, then McD could not have avoided this lawsuit unless they served their coffee lukewarm...or perhaps in a sippy cup.

It is not my position that the case is frivolous because spilling is a common occurrance. I have bought such coffee myself many times and have never spilled it all over my lap. It is my position that hot coffee can reasonably be expected to be hot enough to burn a person, and thus requires normal, reasonable care in it's handling. She obviously did not take the neccesary care because she spilled it, and thus was burned as a result.

Some products have obvious, inherent dangers associated with their use. Some may burn, some may cut, some may be heavy, some are poisonous if ingested. They should be required to be safe to the consumer if used in the intended way. Thus, a hammer used to hammer nails while wearing recommended ANSI goggles and leather gloves should perform safely without shattering or the head flying off. If one uses the hammer on one's bare foot - either intentionally or accidentally - then it is hardly the manufacturer's fault. Possessing a high enough temperature to burn is a de facto feature of hot coffee as sold by millions of establishments, just as being heavy and hard enough to break bones if used improperly is a de facto feature of a hammer.

I'm sorry, I don't know of a way to explain myself more clearly than I already have.

sean dixie
21st July 2003, 11:32
Just a thought- anyone question why someone should be drinking coffee of ANY temperature whilst driving? And without being ageist, especially someone 81 years old! Drinking hot drinks whilst trying to navigate a car on todays roads is stupid! As a biker I've been asked if it's scary going fast on a bike with so little to protect you, no, at least not till the muppet talking on the mobile/cell phone finds he's swinging way way out going through Hyde Park corner, or the mum who thinks it's not necessary to always look forward when didicums is having a small tantrum!:redhot:

kage110
21st July 2003, 13:27
Just a thought- anyone question why someone should be drinking coffee of ANY temperature whilst driving? And without being ageist, especially someone 81 years old! Drinking hot drinks whilst trying to navigate a car on todays roads is stupid! As a biker I've been asked if it's scary going fast on a bike with so little to protect you, no, at least not till the muppet talking on the mobile/cell phone finds he's swinging way way out going through Hyde Park corner, or the mum who thinks it's not necessary to always look forward when didicums is having a small tantrum!

Here, here! I believe it is actually an offence in the UK to consume any food or drink (hot or cold) while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. I even heard a story of one woman who got a ticket from the cops when they saw her drinking from a bottle while stopped at traffic lights (maybe urban myth but....). The fact is drinking, eating, smoking or using a mobile phone reduces your awareness while driving (not to mention ties up one hand that would be better used for car control) so shouldn't be done.

MacDonalds aren't breaking the law when they sell food at a drive-in but the drivers who consume it while moving are. Who should be sued if they have and accident? MacDonalds or the driver?

I am sure Mr Vapour (I am sorry but I am not sure whether 'Hajime' or 'Youji' is your first name:o )is very correct when he says that the law views things in the manner he is describing but does that mean it is right? I believe someone once said, 'The law is an ass'. [For our American cousins, 'ass' as in 'related to a donkey' not the human posterior - but on second thought either would fit the bill!:D]

To illustrate the stupidity this trend in the law could take...my mother walked smack into a large concrete pillar used to keep the roof of a shop up. Big round thing about 2 feet in diameter, one of many along the front of the large retail outlet. Not exactly the sort of thing you could miss. She gave herself quite a bump (probably mild concussion) and went back to her car to recover. She thought that she ought to go home and duly did so (probably a bit of a silly decision as she might not have been all that compus mentus at the time) without once entering the shop.

Next day she was in work sporting a gash on her forehead and obviously had to explain the situation. More than one of her colleagues asked her whether she was going to sue the company that owned the shop. She considered it her own fault and of course she didn't sue.

What could have prevented this accident (apart from the obvious one of my mother looking where she was going:rolleyes: )? Warning signs? What if you miss the warning signs? Do you need warning signs that there are warning signs? It was not as if the company had tried to disguise the pillars in any way.

Sheer madness!:mad:

kenshorin
21st July 2003, 14:33
Originally posted by kage110


What could have prevented this accident (apart from the obvious one of my mother looking where she was going:rolleyes: )? Warning signs? What if you miss the warning signs? Do you need warning signs that there are warning signs? It was not as if the company had tried to disguise the pillars in any way.
[/B]

Yes but since walking into poles is quite a common occurence, the store should have known this and put 3/4 inch foam padding around every pillar.

Matter of fact, why don't we turn the entire planet into a big padded room so all the people don't hurt themselves, because falling down is such a frequent occurence in the world.

And as David said, everything should be served in a sippy cup. And I want my food pre-chewed, lest I should choke. I bet choking is a frequent occurence too! And I have never seen anything listed on the Big Mac wrapper which says "CAUTION! Choking Hazard! Food not chewed properly can present a choking hazard so proceed with caution." I didn't know! I mean, I just assumed McDonalds would be watching out for my best interests.

Absolutely rediculous. The Stella case was F-R-I-V-O-L-O-U-S. SHE spilled coffee. McDonalds kept coffee hot. Well durh. As David said before too, McDonalds serves millions upon millions DAILY. 700 or whatever cases over 10 years is not enough to warrant any type of warning. Its them same as with recalls in the automotive industry. If my one seatbelt has issues, is that means for a recall? No. I forget what the actual legal mark has to be met for a recall, but it certainly isn't 700 over a 10 year period in which billions of consumers were served without problems. The numbers don't justify any warning or anything. And then there's always that common sense thing... :rolleyes:

BTW, Hugh, we should have a round of applause for your mother for not getting sucked into the world of frivolous lawsuits. :beer:

Chuck Munyon
21st July 2003, 15:10
Not to suggest that anyone here is making knee-jerk assumptions without full evaluation of the evidence, but SHE WASN'T DRIVING! She was a passenger in the car. Although that fact has no real relevence to the main question: was the coffee excessively hot? I would have to say YES!
David, a third-degree burn is not a third-degree burn is not a third-degree burn. Degree will only take you as far as the epithelium of the skin. A 130-150 degree liquid spilled in the same manner will lose a great deal of its thermal energy as it distributes itself along the body, and although some areas may receive third degree burns in the time it takes to remove clothing, most will have second or first degree burns due to cooling of the liquid within the requisite time frame and/or alleviation of contact. Treatment may involve tissue grafts, but mostly it will require relief of pain and support of the regrowing skin in the 1st and 2nd degree areas. At 180 degrees, burns progress to 3rd degree well before any cooling occurs, and tissue underlying the dermis can easily by damaged as well. The area burned severely will be significantly greater because the the thermal surface area is effectively increased (damn, I've forgotten most of the physics I learned in college, if anyone can help me with thermal decay rates and their proportionality to distribution that would be lovely). As for third-degree over 6% of the body, this carries a significant risk of shock, systemic sepsis, and inflammatory complications. At 81 years, this could have killed her DESPITE the fact that her clothing was removed ASAP. This is not a trivial degree difference, and selling something that is intended to be consumed at this temperature is simply not reasonable. The fact that McDonald's refused to settle for the $20,000 that Stella was asking is what lead to the lawsuit and it was the JURY who made the reward so ridiculous, not Stella (the Judge cut the reward anyway). This suit was NOT frivolous.

sean dixie
21st July 2003, 18:48
Ok, I except the fact that she wasn't driving. I except the fact that the coffee was very hot. She got burnt. She is old and it was probably a great shock. However, being the grand old age that she is, surely she has learnt a trick or two? Cars moving? Sometimes erratically? They can speed up quite fast these days can't they? Not like when there was a man with a flag out in front to warn everybody.

Buy coffee and it's hot. It'll burn ya my mum told me when I was a kid. I learned to be personally responsible for the things that I do.

So who on E-Budo's going to be the first to sue their Sensei for performing a painfull technique on them?

"I Know I was doing a martial art your honour, but they didn't say EXACTLY how painful these wrist locks are:cry: "

Cady Goldfield
21st July 2003, 19:05
Water boils at 220 degrees F, at sea level. But, liquid that is 145F or 150F, while not boiling, can scald skin (btw, "scald" is the proper term for the "burn" caused by hot liquid).

Scalding temperatures are those that cause tissue-cell damage.

IMO, purveyors of foodstuffs and beverages should not sell food or drink that is hot enough to scald - to cause tissue and cellular damage. "Piping hot" - enough to make you reach for the cold water or to suck in cool air - is hot enough without causing cell damage.

Stella had to undergo extensive skin grafts to repair the tissue damage and infection to her leg. That doesn't happen with a healthily hot cup of coffee. That cup of joe was dangerous, to have caused such extensive damage.

Yes, some foods are supposed to be aflame as part of the effect. In those cases, though, it is understood that you're not supposed to eat the food while it is burning or cooking. In the case of beverages, one assumes that it is no longer "cooking", and while it will be hot, it will not be dangerous to consume without waiting for a period of time.

Advice: Always wait for the flames to go out on your Baked Alaska or Cherries Jubiliee before attempting to eat it. Do not stick your fingers into the flaming portion of a pu-pu platter or fondue pot. :rolleyes:

Mekugi
21st July 2003, 22:31
OK

Clarification:

The car Stella was in was not moving. Stella was not driving. She was in the back seat, her son was driving and he had stopped the car for her to put condiments into her coffee. She was opening the coffee and putting it between her legs when she spilled it all over herself. It burned her. Ipso Facto, she spilled the coffee on herself at a standstill while attempting to add goodies to it.


Stella may be a sweet old lady, she may have had some real burns and serious injury. The fact is, she is responsible for her own actions, and because she is responsible for her own actions her burns were a result of being careless. I don't care what the heck the jury said, she had a damn fine lawyer and they are supposed to sway a jury.

The fact she was elderly and burned heavily and McDonalds was being an arse about paying her doctor bill all led to an OUTRAGEOUS amount of money. Tooooo much. The same way that O.J. Simpson had a fine lawyer and swayed the jury when there was a MOUNTAIN of evidence stacked against him. That does not make everything OKAY, in a sense it rapes liberty each step of the way.

My point is, this is the dumbing down of society, soon we will not be responsible for our own actions. T.V. made the rapist, a radical newsletter led me to smother my infant child, the neighbors dog told me to KILL KILL....wait that one was already tried. None-the-less, I think that any case where a person blames another entity for their own blantent carelessness is a fallacy. Period. BTW, I do think that it is horrible that Stella was burned so badly- I have nothing but sympathy in that department. However, IMHO the judgement of the Jury and the whole idea that she was given a settlement seems to me a bit twisted.


-Russ

Chuck Munyon
22nd July 2003, 12:24
I do not contest that the award was ridiculous. It was, in fact, far more than she asked for. And the full award was never payed, as the judge stepped in and cut it significantly (that is what they are there for).
But the reward is not the Jury's primary purpose. The Jury was impaneled to answer the question: was McDonald's selling a beverage at a temperateure that was so elevated as to make it an unreasonable risk, and did they therefore share the majority of the blame for what happened to Stella? The Jury determined that the answer was yes, and all the evidence that I have seen makes me agree with them. Personally, I hate the American legal system. I think it is quickly killing the ideas of personal responsibility and assumption of reasonable risk. But I still think that this was an example of the system working for the most part the way it should.

Amir
22nd July 2003, 13:18
If any product, whether it is car or coffee, cause injury, producer are legally obliged to warn consumer for its possible danger and/or if they can, they must take action to eliminate such danger.

I guess they should stop manufacturing cars ? :rolleyes:


I live in a different country, with a totally different legal system. So I don't feel I qualify for this discussion. But, doesn't the above statement seem a bit excessive ?

Amir

22nd July 2003, 13:33
You know the McDonalds people must have considered putting the following warning on their cups:

HOT: Be advised that if you spill the contents of this cup, your might burn your vagina.

Chuck Munyon
22nd July 2003, 13:34
The important standard here is what a reasonable person would assume; until a few decades ago, this standard actually worked most of the time. A reasonable person knows the risk getting in a car and driving it; however, they don't expect that car to explode when lightly tapped from behind, hence the lawsuits over the Ford Pinto. In the same way, a reasonable person would expect that spilling a hot beverage in their lap would scald (thank you for keeping me honest, Cady; just one of the many reasons that I love you) them painfully. The would not, expect, however, that spilling said cup of coffee would inflict burns roughly equivalent to what you would get if you poured concentrated drain cleaner over someone's lower body and left it there for an hour.
I am posting an EXCELLENT article about malpractice reform that my mother (one of the few lawyers that I don't hate on principle) sent me. Please have a look at that thread as well.

Cady Goldfield
22nd July 2003, 13:59
Chuck
Whoa. My mom's a lawyer too (and a psychologist - one of the pioneers in the practice!). She retired last year at 81, but still gets many calls and referrals. Want us to send them to your mom? :D