Every so often, there's a big news story about how America is drowning in an epidemic of frivolous lawsuits, and instead of going on with boring statistics and facts -- which nobody wants to read -- they tell sensational stories about burglars suing their victims or kids suing schools because they hurt their feelings.
The problem is that most of these stories are anywhere from half-bullshit to complete bullshit. But we want to believe them, because it feels good to believe that tons of people out there are stupider and greedier than we are, and those people are what's wrong with this country today. Not us. We like outrageous villains that don't hit anywhere close to home.
People like Stella Liebeck.
The Infamous "McDonald's Hot Coffee" Lawsuit
Probably the most famous "frivolous lawsuit" example of all time. No doubt you've heard of the lady that sued McDonald's because she spilled some hot coffee in her lap while driving. What a moron! you might have thought. How stupid do you have to be to not know coffee is hot? Americans these days! Blaming everyone but themselves for their mistakes!
"This is all your fault, coffee!"
It turns out there's a lot more to the story. First of all, the hot coffee wasn't just uncomfortable and embarrassing, it gave her third degree burns over six percent of her body, which required fucking skin grafts. You can see the burns yourself if you're not squeamish.
Secondly, coffee served at that temperature (180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit) will give a person third-degree burns in two to seven seconds, while home-coffee brewers normally serve coffee at much lower temperatures (130 two 140 degrees) which won't immediately burn you. Yes, Starbucks and other joints do serve coffee at the hotter temperatures -- because some customers prefer it -- but then again, they get sued for it also. Thirdly, she attempted to settle for $20,000 at one point, and McDonald's refused, which is when she started getting cranky.
"Not my problem."
You may have heard that she got millions of dollars, when the final award was $640,000. Then from that you take out the medical bills (hint: skin grafts aren't cheap).