July 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 14, 2011

  • “Battle of the tort reform flicks”: trial-bar-backed “Hot Coffee” documentary said to be more entertaining than U.S. Chamber-backed “InJustice” [TortsProf, Abnormal Use, Daily Caller, Frank/PoL, Above the Law, Fisher, LNL] Memo to liberal studio heads: c’mon, now’s the time to greenlight more business-bashing flicks [Alyssa Rosenberg, TP]
  • Interlock makers join forces with MADD to lobby for new federal DUI mandates [Luke Rosiak, Wash Times] More: Greenfield.
  • Consumer found liable after posting gripes about driveway contractor on Craigslist [Minneapolis Star-Tribune] P.S.: Default judgment, not merits [h/t ABA Journal]
  • Angelos law firm obtains $1 billion+ punitive award in Exxon Baltimore gasoline leak case, bringing total to $1.5 billion+ [AP, earlier]
  • Taiwan: “Jail Time (And $7000 Fine) for Saying a Restaurant’s Dishes Were ‘Too Salty’” [Volokh]
  • Headed for SCOTUS? Sixth Circuit panel strikes down Michigan law banning discrimination in higher ed admissions and other state activities [Gail Heriot, Daily Caller; Hans Bader, CEI]
  • Court in British Columbia includes C$30,000 in damage award for injury plaintiff’s purchase of medical marijuana for pain management [Erik Magraken]

{ 2 comments }

1 Jim Collins 07.14.11 at 9:57 am

MADD is a non-profit my ass.

2 Hugo S. Cunningham 08.07.11 at 7:05 am

A belated comment on the McDonald’s hot coffee case:

From WO’s post at
http://overlawyered.com/2011/06/hot-coffee-documentary-hbo-reviewed/#comments

>I’m pretty sure no groups critical of the Liebeck award ever did a comparable press push; and the McDonald’s company itself, so far as I know, never chose to cooperate with commentators who might be sympathetic to its legal case.
[end of quote]

Though sympathetic to tort reform, I can understand why McDonald’s does not want to revisit this case. The $2.7 million punitive damages to force them to cool their coffee to the temperature of dishwater was out of line. But some of the arguments that it was *all* the plaintiff’s fault remind me of Whitaker Chambers’s notorious paraphrase of Atlas Shrugged, “To a gas chamber — go!”

The extraordinary burns that the plaintiff got made her case an “exception that proves the rule,” distinct from the usual whiners and hustlers seeking big payoffs for minor injuries. For a big company, it is sometimes best to pay to make bad publicity go away.

Although the plaintiff’s attorney standard of 135-140 degrees (or at most 155 degrees) has not been adopted, I believe the current standards for Starbucks and McDonalds are a bit lower than the 193 degrees cited in this case. (ON the other hand, when I make tea at home, I always boil the water.)

It might make sense to serve car customers, subject to extra spill hazards, at a somewhat lower temperature than counter customers.

I understand the cups used to serve car sustomers have been redesigned to make spills less likely.

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