Researching Tort Cases of Liebeck v. McDonalds and Pearson v. Chung The law defines a “frivolous” lawsuit as “presenting no debatable question” to the court. The tort cases Liebeck verses McDonalds and Pearson verses Chung were both highly publicized cases that were coined as “frivolous” lawsuits that have a negative impact on the economy and the way we conduct ourselves in society. According to Phillip Howard, Chairman of Common Goods, a legal reform coalition, Tort claims cost the country hundreds of billions of dollars per year and they are changing our behavior and culture (Pearle, 2007). Due to the number of assumed meritless cases in the United States the Tort Reform movement was born to propose reducing tort litigation and damages. The advocates on this reform says that small businesses are suffering much like how the Chungs, who had to close their business because of the financial strain that the case caused them, and critics of the reform states that “ it is movement that seeks to strip Americans of their legal rights” (History, 2011). A closer look at the statistics and unbiased research of the two cases will truly determine whether the cases have any merit or not. Liebeck v.McDonalds
The “McDonalds Coffee Spill” is the most widely known tort case in the country (Liebeck v. McDonalds). The case was tried in Albuquerque, New Mexico in August 1993. When the case first hit the media circuit the news painted a picture of a clumsy old lady who spilled coffee all over herself while driving or riding in car, sued McDonalds, and was warded 2.7 million in punitive damages from a sympathic jury (O’Brien, Shafner, Stuart, Kelly & Morris, 1999). Further details of the case would surface 6 months to a year later with information that showed that this case was far more than trivial. Facts
79 year old grandmother Stella Liebeck was in the passenger sit of a car being driven by her grandson Chris when the incident occurred. The car was at a stand still when Ms. Liebeck tried to hold the coffee cup that she just purchased from McDonalds between her knees while she attempted to open the lid. The cup flipped over and the contend spilled on her leg and groin area including her genital area. •
Stella suffered third degree burns across her groin, genitals and buttocks. Third degree burns are “full thickness” skin burns that char and blacken the skin and permanently destroy the skin and nerves (O’Brien et al., 1999). She stayed in the hospital for seven days, then to her daughter’s house to recuperate for three weeks and then she returned to the hospital for skin grafting. She went from 113 pounds to 83 pounds and has permanent scars over 16 of her body (O’Brien et al., 1999). •
Stella and her family originally asked McDonalds to pay $15,000 to $20,000 to cover her daughter’s out of pocket expenses (about $20,000) and wages lost while staying home to take care of her, to reimburse Medicare for over #10, 000 of medical expenses, and also to lower the temperature on the coffee. Although the fast food giant had settled to other burn victims for over $500,000 they offered Stella only $800.00 (O’Brien et al., 1999). •
After her request was turned down my McDonalds Stella contacted a lawyer to file lawsuit against McDonalds for medical expenses and pain and sufferings. The compliant was filed with the Albuquerque District Court on March 12th 1993. Reed Morgan, Stella’s attorney took a survey of numerous fast food restaurants and found that most had served their coffee at 20 degrees lower than the approximate 180 degrees at which McDonalds served theirs. McDonald’s Corporation specification called for their coffee to be served at 180-190 degree Fahrenheit and brewed at 195-205 degrees. Regular house coffee is brewed at 135-140 degrees (Famous, 2007). •
Stella and her attorney offered to settle the case for $300,000, but McDonalds refused to settle. A court appointed mediator recommended that McDonalds settle...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document