How do you like your morning caffeine fix? “Hot Coffee” spills the beans on frivolous lawsuit charges

Who has forgotten the 2.9 million dollar case where a woman spilled hot coffee on herself, got 3rd degree burns on her legs, and sued McDonald’s for serving her coffee at 190 degrees? The facts of the case may be a little foggy, but everyone THINKS they know the facts of this case. The truth is, most people do not.


I recently attended a screening of the movie, “Hot Coffee” in which the family, doctor, lawyer and witnesses are interviewed to bring the truth about what McDonalds did to light, and how the press and insurance companies distorted the truth in order to portray this as a “frivolous lawsuit.” The ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. personal injury trial team is against frivolous lawsuits. As a Herndon/Reston area trial lawyer I talk people OUT of bringing unnecessary claims.

But soon a unique production crew of editors, photographers and interestingly, a lawyer, will bring the details of the story to the big screen. “Hot Coffee”, presents Stella Liebeck’s story in a documentary format. It is scheduled for next years Sundance film festival and will outline the facts of the case that made headlines, and discuss why it has lead to so much discussion regarding law suit abuse and frivolous litigation. The film will expose the details by interviewing doctors, lawyers, jurors, and even Stella’s grandson.

The car was parked. There was no cup holder in the car. And McDonalds KNEW that their coffee was so hot that it would scald and cause permanent injury. McDonalds had almost 200 prior scalding accidents. The plaintiff burned through her flesh in her pelvic area and has permanent scars from the scalding and graft sites.

McDonalds admitted in the 1994 hearing that they were aware that they were serving extremely hot coffee but they tried to excuse their actions. The McDonalds representatives explained that most customers did not immediately drink their coffee, but instead drove away from the drive-thru window, and took the first sip 5-10 minutes later. But some customers want their caffeine fix right away, accounting for the hundreds of claims of burning coffee McDonalds had ignored prior to the famous Liebeck case.

So who was in the wrong? Did the elderly woman spill the coffee and throw an exaggerated fit? Or did McDonalds get what they deserved from an impartial jury when someone finally stepped forward to accuse them of their ignorance? “Hot Coffee” will reveal to audiences the true story that set the country ablaze.

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