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6 Famous 'Frivolous Lawsuit' Stories (That Are Total B.S.)

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Commie Pinko Dirtbag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 01:49 PM
Original message
6 Famous 'Frivolous Lawsuit' Stories (That Are Total B.S.)
Moral of the story: your rule of thumb should be, "Assume stories about frivolous lawsuits by stupid individuals are right-wing propaganda. You'll seldom go wrong."

http://www.cracked.com/article_19150_6-famous-frivolous...

#6. The Infamous "McDonald's Hot Coffee" Lawsuit

Probably the most famous "frivolous lawsuit" example of all time. No doubt you've heard of the lady that sued McDonald's because she spilled some hot coffee in her lap while driving. What a moron! you might have thought. How stupid do you have to be to not know coffee is hot? Americans these days! Blaming everyone but themselves for their mistakes!

It turns out there's a lot more to the story. First of all, the hot coffee wasn't just uncomfortable and embarrassing, it gave her third degree burns over six percent of her body, which required fucking skin grafts. You can see the burns yourself if you're not squeamish.

Secondly, coffee served at that temperature (180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit) will give a person third-degree burns in two to seven seconds, while home-coffee brewers normally serve coffee at much lower temperatures (130 two 140 degrees) which won't immediately burn you. Yes, Starbucks and other joints do serve coffee at the hotter temperatures -- because some customers prefer it -- but then again, they get sued for it also. Thirdly, she attempted to settle for $20,000 at one point, and McDonald's refused, which is when she started getting cranky. (...)

#2. Workman Puts Ladder in Manure, Slips, Sues Ladder Company

No less a source than 60 Minutes announced this story to the world, where a workman set up a ladder with its base in some frozen manure, and as the heat of the day kicked in, his ladder slipped in the now less-frozen manure, and he fell and hurt himself, because he is an idiot. He then sued the ladder company because they didn't stop him from being an idiot -- they should have put a warning label about manure.

This story still gets repeated around the Internet even though the truth is that the ladder didn't slip, it broke. It broke with less than 450 pounds of weight on it, when it was supposedly rated safe up to 1000 pounds. Which is exactly the sort of thing you're supposed to sue about. (more at link)
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The Magistrate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 02:14 PM
Response to Original message
1. An Excellent Rule Of Thumb, Sir
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Commie Pinko Dirtbag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 02:44 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. I don't rule out the possibility that there may be a story like this that is true.
But by Jove, I've yet to see any.
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MedicalAdmin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 11:39 AM
Response to Reply #6
23. Good one. LOL.
Possible? Yes. Probable? Nope.

It's amazing how many people don't understand the difference. Sigh - my kingdom for a country where stats are a part of general literacy.
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thucythucy Donating Member (182 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #1
30. Added to this list should be all the anti-ADA
stories that right-wingers so love to spew. You know, for instance, how some small business went bankrupt because a corrupt wheelchair user forced them to install an elevator in a two floor building? My favorite is the one Newt put into one of his books, on someone using the ADA to sue a town in Florida to build a hugely expensive ramp down to a nude beach. Only problems with the story: a) it wasn't a nude beach b) the ramp wasn't hugely expensive c) no one actually sued to have it installed because d) the town decided that since so many residents and visitors were elderly and/or disabled (and came wanting to use the beach) it would draw business to the town to build the ramp.

So here's another rule of thumb: whenever you hear about "frivolous" ADA lawsuits--be it from Newt Gingrich, Rand Paul, or the Cato Institute--chances are it's BS. As was pointed out above, genuinely frivolous suits get weeded out long before they reach a jury. Generally speaking, the people pushing the "frivolous" lawsuit meme are folks who simply can't be inconvenienced by such trivialities as consumer safety, public access, or adhering to federal civil rights law.
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Merlot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 02:15 PM
Response to Original message
2. The whole article is worth a read, and check out the comments - all 875
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JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 02:20 PM
Response to Original message
3. I predict that this thread has the re-fighting of the coffee lawsuit for a third time by the same...
people :popcorn:
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Lyric Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 02:54 PM
Response to Reply #3
9. I don't know. The graphic photos of her 3rd degree burns ought to shut up the "tort reformers"
Too many people don't know the facts behind these cases. This is exactly why I oppose tort reform. It basically tells all big companies, "Never worry! Even if you do millions of dollars in damage to someone's property, health, or life, you'll never owe more than $200k."

I oppose telling corporations that we've got THEIR backs and telling genuinely injured people to fuck off and stop whining.
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HughBeaumont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 03:04 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. You know as well as I do that NOTHING shuts the "tort reformers" up.
It's a Republitarian's bread and butter, next to "bootstraps" and "taxation is theft with gunz!"
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Commie Pinko Dirtbag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 04:43 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Don't forget "homosexual agenda" and "entitlements".
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 04:09 PM
Response to Reply #11
27. The sad part is how many DU'ers shovel that shit.
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jberryhill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 02:25 PM
Response to Original message
4. Insurance Companies Promote These Stories /nt
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 02:36 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Ding, ding, ding--we have a winner! nt
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 02:45 PM
Response to Original message
7. Kicked and recommended.
Thanks for the thread, Commie Pinko Dirtbag.
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RockaFowler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 02:52 PM
Response to Original message
8. The town going bankrupt is the best example
I remember that story and thought that was all true (boo on my part)

I'm glad they put further information for this story
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 03:01 PM
Response to Original message
10. notice they rarely complain about ACTUAL frivolous lawsuits
actual frivolous lawsuits get kicked out of court. it's not like the legal system is unable to deal with that problem.

no, the lawsuits that they call "frivolous" are the ones where the jury decides that a company violated the law and damaged a consumer someone else and awards them a large sum of money to compensate and possibly punish.

in other words, the judge and the jury all decided that the case had legal and factual merit and was not frivolous.

in fact, if "frivolous" were really the problem, it would hardly be worth complaining about.

no, what they're complaining about is consumers and the law infringing on their "right" to cause harm to anyone they please, without recourse. they just can't stand the idea that a company that causes harm should take responsibility for their actions.

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JoeyT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 03:09 AM
Response to Reply #10
13. Mostly because they're bang alongside the idea of actual frivolous lawsuits.
Like when you tell the truth about a company and they sue you to shut you up.
They don't have a chance of winning, but they can bankrupt you with legal fees.
That seems like a much more fitting definition of "frivolous lawsuit" than any of these.
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 10:52 AM
Response to Reply #13
19. indeed, corporations are huge litigants
they sue aplenty, and of course they engender plenty more with their "accept my terms or sue me" attitude.

i was in a car accident as a passenger in a cab and i STILL had to sue to get my medical bills paid.
it's one thing to refuse to reach a reasonable settlement when amounts and fault are in question, but in my case there was zero doubt about either. their fault, insurnace maximum. but just saying no permitted them (the cab company's insurance company) to hold on to my money for 3 years while the gears of justice ground slowly.
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ejpoeta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 09:03 AM
Response to Reply #10
17. well part of their reasoning for deregulating everything is that individuals
would have legal recourse if something happened to them while using/consuming a product. but they are also actively trying to get rid of that 'legal recourse' option along with any regulation protecting the public in the first place. and i for one don't understand why people don't understand this. to these people EVERY lawsuit is frivolous... except the ones THEY instigate.
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #17
20. exactly. it's time we wake up to the fact that their rationales are complete b.s.
they support legal action that serves their interests and oppose legal action that works against them.
then they find logic and rhetoric that supports their view in whatever case they're talking about at the moment.
that's fine for advocacy, but not for a consistent and just system.
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Doctor_J Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 07:00 AM
Response to Original message
14. Another right-wing meme that many DUers buy into
"teachers retire at age 40 with free health care for life and million-dollar pensions". "Unions ruined the country". "Media isn't right wing". And this canard.

Rec
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Overseas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 07:28 AM
Response to Original message
15. The documentary about the Hot Coffee incident was selected for Sundance.
Edited on Thu Apr-07-11 07:29 AM by Overseas
http://hotcoffeethemovie.com /


The civil justice system has been under heavy attack for over 25 years.

Despite the fact that federal legislation has never been successful, big business interests have won in the hearts and minds of average people. They launched a public relations campaign starting in the mid-80s and continuing over the last two decades to convince the public that we have out of control juries, too many frivolous lawsuits and a civil justice system that needs reforming. They have used anecdotes, half-truths and sometimes out and out lies in their efforts, for one purpose to put limits on peoples access to the court system, the one and only place where an average citizen can go toe to toe with those with money and power and still have a shot at justice.

Because of the success of the public relations campaigns, paid for by tobacco, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, to name a few, our civil justice system is not impartial. Jurors have been brainwashed into believing that a large verdict will affect their pocketbooks. Voters believe that we have a court system out of control that needs reforming. Although there are consumer advocacy groups who have attempted to set the story straight, there has yet to be enough money to launch the kind of public relations campaign for consumers that can even begin to combat and challenge the public relations campaigns of pro-business and tort reform groups. Over the last few years, however, documentary films and independent film festivals have become a vehicle for alternative ideas to get a public forum.

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certainot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 08:50 AM
Response to Original message
16. or how 1000 unchallenged radio stations make the difference
you can't create myths like these without giving limbaugh and sons a free speech free ride, protected by call screeners, to lie all day, fed and coordinated by RW think tanks.

fox tv nor any other medium is capable of turning the democratic party into the democrat party.

to leave it alone, as the left does, give the right a huge advantage in messaging. it is why the GOP is still alive- that is their main weapon.

but the left leaves the stations alone- only two picketing actions that i've heard of, and the lefty orgs of all stripes work 2x as hard because of it, have never done anything about it.

biggest political mistake in US political history
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ChoppinBroccoli Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 09:26 AM
Response to Original message
18. What "Tort Reformers" Will NEVER Understand............
............is that BY ITS VERY DEFINITION, a "frivolous lawsuit" will never see the light of day. A "frivolous lawsuit" is defined as a suit that contains no colorable claim or cause of action, and that reasonable minds could come to ONLY one conclusion as to its merits. Therefore, BY DEFINITION, "frivolous lawsuits" will ALL be summarily dismissed by the Judge a short time after they've been filed. They CERTAINLY would never progress through the Discovery process, survive 100 different Motions to Dismiss, Motions for Summary Judgment, and other kinds of dispositive Motions filed by the Defendants, make it to trial, GO to trial, and then...........the kicker in all of this..............have the facts be convincing enough to a Jury that NOT ONLY would it get a ruling in its favor, but ALSO a huge award of damages. And every State in the Union has a law on the books not only ALLOWING, but actually making it a DUTY, for the Judge to summarily dismiss any lawsuit he/she views as containing no colorable claim or cause of action (in other words, "frivolous").

Here's a nice rule of thumb: if the Plaintiff WINS the case, it wasn't frivolous (because frivolous means that reasonable minds can come to ONLY ONE conclusion, and clearly, a jury of 12 people came to a different one). Laughing at, or lamenting, a "frivolous lawsuit" that the Plaintiff WON is like saying, "Super Bowl III was a frivolous Super Bowl. It should have never even been played. Because everyone who knows anything about football knows that the Jets had absolutely no chance of winning that game." The fact that they DID win proves that the game was NOT frivolous.
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COLGATE4 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 11:30 AM
Response to Reply #18
22. K&R X 1000!. Excellent analysis.
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COLGATE4 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 11:29 AM
Response to Original message
21. In addition to the info on the McDonalds lawsuit, which is all
accurate, MacDonalds was also warned about customers being burned by the overheated coffee before this happened. In fact, their Legal Department made such a fuss to Management that they finally put a warning "Caution - contents may be hot" on the container. But (as often happens in my 25 years + as a corporate attorney) Management didn't like the idea so they compromised, but putting the warning in miniscule letters on the cup lid, not readily apparent to the user. If they had done as their attorneys suggested they may have had a much better defense. As it was, their arrogance caused them to blow it big time. And, in my opinion, well-deservedly.
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ChoppinBroccoli Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 04:57 PM
Response to Reply #21
29. Not Sure If This Was Mentioned Or Not............
...........but not only were ALL McDonald's franchises warned repeatedly about the temperature of the coffee, but THIS PARTICULAR McDonald's got warnings from inspectors on at least THREE different occasions that they needed to reduce the temperature of their coffee to comply with the standards set forth by the McDonald's franchise agreement. But they never did it. Their coffee was something like 50 to 100 degrees HOTTER than the national standard allowed, and despite being warned to cool it down, they refused.

Also, the amount of money the woman got as an award, while it sounds like a lot of money (and it WAS), that amount represented the amount of money McDonald's makes nationwide from the sale of coffee in ONE DAY.

Tort reformers don't like you to know those "inconsequential" little details.
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jmowreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #29
33. Another fun fact...
The coffee in question was so hot it was deemed "not fit for human consumption as delivered." IOW if you drank it you'd injure yourself.
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louis-t Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
24. ...and the reason McDonald's was held liable?
They had jacked up the temp because their customers were complaining that when they bought coffee on the way to work, by the time they fought their way through traffic, parked their car, went up the elevator, hung their coat up, took a leak, flirted with the reception person, etc. the coffee was cold. :eyes:
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cemaphonic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 12:13 PM
Response to Original message
25. Another good rule of thumb:
Be careful what conclusions you draw from Cracked articles. (although I agree with you in this case)
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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 12:46 PM
Response to Original message
26. Cracked has been a better must-read than the Onion the past year or two
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walldude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 08:28 PM
Response to Reply #26
32. MAD too... they rip on the baggers in every issue.. Palin too..
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 04:11 PM
Response to Original message
28. Good rule of thumb. Add union abuse to it.
Those stories of unions screwing the people come from the same neo-con story book -- right wing propaganda.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 08:08 PM
Response to Original message
31. I confess that I used to be among those who make fun of the coffee woman
Until I actually read the story, of course. Since then I've developed a tendency to keep my mouth shut about these things until I have more facts.

K/R!
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SCantiGOP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-08-11 03:33 PM
Response to Reply #31
34. coffee lady
I recall that she had a lawyer; McDonalds sent in a team of 5 or 6. At one point they put a dermatologist on the stand as an expert witness to explain how much slower skin heals as you age, and that had she been in her 20s the burn would not have been as bad and would have healed better. After the trial, several jurors said they were outraged; they took the testimony as saying it was her fault for being old. And, as the story pointed out, originally all she wanted was her medical bills to be paid.
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DissedByBush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-09-11 06:38 PM
Response to Original message
35. The McDonald's suit was frivolous
Yes, the coffee was at 180 to 190 degrees. That is the best temperature to keep it at. Optimum brewing temperature is 195-200 degrees, and you shouldn't let it cool down too much before pouring. This was McDonald's doing something RIGHT.

Also, for years workers relied on getting a very hot McD's coffee to go so it would still be cold by the time they got to the construction site. Too bad now.

As far as her burns, she put the coffee between her thighs while wearing sweat pants. SHE spilled it ON HERSELF, and what would have been a light burn became more because HER sweatpants held the hot coffee close to her skin for an extended time.

McDonald's coffee was hot? Well, guess what,

COFFEE IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUCKING HOT

So be careful, don't do stupid shit with hot liquids.
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