A recent documentary called Hot Coffee is making some steam as it documents “tort reform.” Its showing at the Sundance festival rendered a very favorable verdict. The subject matter of Hot Coffee is our country’s tort system and will likely be deplored by corporations and special interest groups, such as the United States Chamber of Commerce. Hot Coffee has been called a “potent and provocative documentary.” The filmmaker, Susan Saladoff, presents a strong case against corporate America, which she exposes as using sensationalized lawsuit settlements to push public opinion against frivolous lawsuits. Ms. Saladoff highlights the infamous McDonald’s personal injury lawsuit where the personal injury plaintiff was awarded millions for spilling hot coffee on herself. Offering perspective on the infamous lawsuit, the filmmaker showed many “man-in-the-street” interviews, which indicate that the general public’s uninformed view of the case was that it was outrageous for someone to use over hot coffee.
The film even goes to the length of interviewing the elderly plaintiff as well as showing the graphic medical photographs of the horrific burns that the personal injury plaintiff suffered in her private areas. Ms. Saladoff also addresses the initial response from McDonalds, which was characterized as arrogant and dismissive when the elderly woman initially sought only to have her medical bills covered. All of this time, when the elderly plaintiff was suffering severe harm, McDonald’s had in its possession numerous other reports where customers had been similarly injured by their “too hot” coffee.
Visit Reuters to read more about the legal documentary.