The Colin McEnroe Show
3:33 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

When 'Hot Coffee' Spills, Should American Courts Respond?

We're walking out on the minefield of tort reform today, and the reason we're doing it is that film-maker Susan Saladoff is in town.

Her documentary "Hot Coffee" does a great job of exploring a meme that was everywhere in the 1990s -- a woman burned herself while opening a cup of coffee between her legs while driving and had won millions in a lawsuit against McDonalds.

I can say with some small amount of pride that in my capacity as a talk show host on a mostly conservative station back in those days, I knew the facts of the case and told them to my audience.

The woman, Stella Liebeck, was a passenger not a driver. The trial uncovered more than 700 reports of people burned by McDonald's coffee. The company had refused to alter the temperature of the coffee it served. The award -- which was reduced to $640,000 -- happened because the jury got mad at McDonald's.

We'll tell you more on today's show.

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