How Did McDonalds Lose the “Hot Coffee” Lawsuit?
McDonald’s coffee case was a 1994 product liability lawsuit that became a flashpoint in the debate in the United States over tort reform.
“There was a person behind every number, and I don’t think the corporation was attaching enough importance to that,” juror Betty Farnham told the Wall Street Journal. This was the answer to McDonald’s defense, that said “the number of complaints was statistically insignificant.”
One of the main goals of jurors in this lawsuit was protecting the humans rights and interests in relations with big corporations. And this is why they decided to punish McDonald by paying a big sum. “The only way you can get the attention of a big company [is] to make punitive damages against them,” said juror Marjorie Getman. “And we thought this was a very small punitive damage.”
And because of that huge sum of punishment, many people think that the Liebeck vs. McDonald’s Restaurants lawsuit looks ridiculous.
But big punitive damages had led to the departure from the heart of the matter. That’s why Liebeck commented it: “I was not in it for the money. I was in it because I want them to bring the temperature down so that other people wouldn’t go through the same thing I did.”
The result is that McDonald’s now serves its coffee at a temperature that is 10 degrees lower. And it proves that the juror’s decision was correct.
In my opinion, McDonald loses the coffee lawsuit because of paying not enough attention to the quality of its restaurants service and products. And an additional reason for losing was a latency ignoring of customer’s rights, counting them just like statistic numbers.
Wikipedia. (November 3, 2015) Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants. Retrieved on August 22, 1997 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald%27s_Restaurants.
Hot Coffee documentary film (adapted by Andy Simmons). (March 2014) Remember the Hot Coffee Lawsuit? What Really Happened. Retrieved on August 22, 1997 from http://www.rd.com/culture/hot-coffee-lawsuit/2/
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