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"Hot Coffee": A Movie You Should See and Your ICBC Injury Claim


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5/23/2013
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The documentary film "Hot Coffee" is named after the much talked about McDonald's "Hot Coffee" case that attracted so much attention awhile back.

This film takes a close look at the facts of the McDonald's coffee case and contrasts these with the public perception of what took place.

Here's the thing. The public perception is that the McDonald's coffee case is a example of "jackpot justice" gone wild !

But do the facts of this case support this perception? Or is the whole thing a distortion put forward by a powerful insurance lobby and a media that feeds on the perception that anyone who puts forward an injury claim is out to "milk the system".

The facts of the "Hot Coffee" case are well known.

Ms. Stella Liebeck, a 79 year old resident of Albuquereque, New Mexico spilt McDonald's coffee on her lap. As a result, Ms. Liebeck suffered severe third degree burns and had to undergo multiple skin grafting operations.

Over the course of the resulting litigation, Ms. Liebeck's lawyers discovered that McDonald's had a corporate policy of overheating its coffee by 40-50 degrees. And that this policy was developed in order to reduce the number of customers who would ask for free refills.

More to the point, Ms. Liebeck's lawyers determined that, prior to her accident, McDonald's had 700 documented complaints of scalding burns caused by their hot coffee. And despite these complaints McDonald's did not take any steps to  reduce the temperature at which their coffee was served.

A jury found McDonald's at fault for its company policy of overheating coffee to extreme temperatures and ignoring the numerous prior complaints in this regard. The jury awarded Ms. Leibeck $160,000 compensation for her injuries and punitive damages of $2.7 million. The punitive damages were later reduced by court order to $480,000.

The most interesting part of this documentary is the series of interviews that it incorporates. Prior to getting the true facts of the case  those interviewed were generally of  the view that this case represented  an example of "jackpot justice" at its finest. But after learning the actual facts of the McDonald's Hot Coffee case these same people asserted that the jury didn't go far enough with its verdict.

So, what's the moral of the story ?

Many people in British Columiba hold the belief that  anyone who makes an ICBC injury claim is " out to screw the system".

Is that belief accurate or just part of  B.C. mythology ?



Category: Car Accidents


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