Stella Liebeck and McDonald’s coffee revisited

by Ted Frank on August 3, 2004

A sad example of how the Democratic party has become the political wing of the plaintiffs’ bar is a recent post in the Daily Kos defending John Edwards by lionizing the result in the infamous McDonald’s coffee case, where a jury awarded Stella Liebeck $2.9 million for spilling a 49-cent coffee on herself. (Daily Kos, Aug. 1). Professor Bainbridge refutes (Aug. 1), with reference to our Dec. 10 entry. Blogger “Curmudgeonly Clerk” (Aug. 2) continues to insist that hot coffee is unreasonably dangerous, which sidesteps the question why our legislatures continue to permit it to be sold. Strangely, the Clerk is aware of and cites McMahon v. Bunn-O-Matic, a Seventh Circuit case that should’ve ended the coffee debates once and for all, but doesn’t reconcile that decision with his defense of the Liebeck case.

Meanwhile, Maxine Villegas’s sister spilled McDonald’s coffee on her, and she’s hired Liebeck’s lawyer to sue McDonald’s. (Matt Fleischer-Black, “One Lump or Two?”, American Lawyer, Jun. 4.) Though scheduled to go to trial last month, there hasn’t been additional press coverage.

{ 6 comments }

1 De Novo 08.03.04 at 8:17 pm

Pet Peeve

The Curmudgeonly Clerk returns to that hoary old stick of the tort reform movement: the McDonald’s hot coffee case. He does so in order to refute arguments from bloggers who have latched on to a couple of new-to-me ideas: 1)…

2 BeldarBlog 08.03.04 at 9:19 pm

McCoffee burns

Beldar wades into the debate between Professor Bainbridge, Ted Frank of Overlawyered, and the Curmudgeonly Clerk over the McDonald’s coffee case. As usual (being a vain, longwinded, crusty old trial lawyer), he makes it into something all about himself!

3 PointOfLaw Forum 08.04.04 at 1:06 am

Why Stella Liebeck is important

The blogosphere continues to discuss the Stella Liebeck coffee case. Overlawyered’s August 3 entry has prompted a couple of responses. “Beldar” (Aug. 3) is reminded of similarly frivolous cases he defended against on behalf of the old Houston Lighting …

4 PointOfLaw Forum 08.04.04 at 1:07 am

Why Stella Liebeck is important

The blogosphere continues to discuss the 1994 Stella Liebeck McDonald’s coffee case. Overlawyered’s August 3 entry has prompted a couple of responses. “Beldar” (Aug. 3) is reminded of similarly frivolous cases he defended against on behalf of the old H…

5 PointOfLaw Forum 08.04.04 at 2:48 am

Why Stella Liebeck is important

The blogosphere continues to discuss the 1994 Stella Liebeck McDonald’s coffee case. Overlawyered’s August 3 entry has prompted a couple of responses, prompting an August 4 entry. “Beldar” (Aug. 3) is reminded of similarly frivolous cases he defended a…

6 Overlawyered 10.20.05 at 8:03 am

Urban legends and Stella Liebeck and the McDonald’s coffee case

Thirteen courts have reported opinions looking at product-liability/failure-to-warn claims alleging that coffee was “unreasonably dangerous” and the provider was thus liable when the plaintiff spilled coffee on him- or herself. Twelve courts correctly …

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