Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car when she was severely burned by McDonalds’ coffee in February 1992. Liebeck, 79 at the time, ordered coffee that was served in a styrofoam cup at the drivethrough window of a local McDonalds. After receiving the order, the grandson pulled his car forward and stopped momentarily so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. (Critics of civil justice, who have pounced on this case, often charge that Liebeck was driving the car or that the vehicle was in motion when she spilled the coffee; neither is true.) Liebeck placed the cup between her knees and attempted to remove the plastic lid from the cup. As she removed the lid, the entire contents of the cup spilled into her lap. Stella Lieback sued McDonalds for coffee being too hot. Discuss the merits of this case and whether or not tort cases are some what frivolous and take up too much of the court’s time
The Merit of Tort Cases
The Merit of Tort Cases
The argument that Ms. Liebeck’s physical injuries were severe to prove that the coffee was dangerously hot hold the basis for merit for the case. The McDonald’s serving policy at temperatures 180 to 190 degree was used as merit that should that the coffee could result in third-degree burns in the case they landed on a body. On the other hand, the basic facts of the case show that there is no merit to the case and the case is ultimately questionable and frivolous (Tracz, 2017). One could argue that it is contributory negligence as Ms. Liebeck spilled the coffee on her lap when she was in control of the cup. There is no merit to the argument that the coffee was dangerously hot. Ms. Liebeck bought the coffee; with the understanding that coffee is hot in the cup. It was her responsibility to control what happens to the coffee.
Tort cases are frivolous in some ways as they bring on many negative effects. These cases take up time in the court and use of resources that would have been used for other significant cases. These frivolous tort cases hurt the lives of the sued parties which may be individuals and small businesses who financially ready to pay legal fees and spend time in the court. Tort cases that hold no merit make individuals and small businesses incur legal charges or damage to their reputation to cases that lack any legal claim, facts or merit (Gabuthy & Lambert, 2018). Not all tort cases are frivolous; as there are cases with strong legal precedents and facts. Most attorneys do not practice responsible tort law and lack intelligent choice of the cases with the basis of substantial legal precedents. It leads to undeserving plaintiff taking up court time and unfairly accusing the defendants which consequently affect negatively the substance of tort cases.
Gabuthy, Y., & Lambert, E. A. (2018). Legal Advertising and Frivolous Lawsuits. Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), 174(3), 570-593.
Tracz, E. T. (2017). Half Truths, Empty Promises, and Hot Coffee: The Economics of Tort Reform. Seton Hall Legis. J., 42, 311.