A twelve-person jury reached its verdict on August 18, 1994. Applying the principles of comparative negligence, the jury found that McDonald’s was 80% responsible for the incident and Liebeck was 20% at fault. Though there was a warning on the coffee cup, the jury decided that the warning was neither large enough nor sufficient. They awarded Liebeck US$200,000 in compensatory damages, which was then reduced by 20% to $160,000. In addition, they awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages. The jurors apparently arrived at this figure from Morgan’s suggestion to penalize McDonald’s for one or two days’ worth of coffee revenues, which were about $1.35 million per day. The judge reduced punitive damages to $480,000, three times the compensatory amount, for a total of $640,000. The decision was appealed by both McDonald’s and Liebeck in December 1994, but the parties settled out of court for an undisclosed amount less than $600,000.
…Detractors have argued that McDonald’s refusal to offer more than an $800 settlement for the $10,500 in medical bills indicated that the suit was meritless and highlighted the fact that Liebeck spilled the coffee on herself rather than any wrongdoing on the company’s part. They also argued that the coffee was not defective because McDonald’s coffee conformed to industry standards, and coffee continues to be served as hot or hotter today at McDonald’s and chains like Starbucks. They further stated that the vast majority of judges who consider similar cases dismiss them before they get to a jury. From 2002 to 2007, an offshoot from a weekly news column by writer Randy Cassingham resulted in a website called the “Stella Awards”, which purported to give awards to people who filed “outrageous and frivolous lawsuits”.
Now there was one that I had heard about as a teen from a Friend. I looked it up, expecting to find a Snopes page rather than an actual court document. In the telling, my friend said the complainant was a man, and that the ball had been chipped into the woods where it hit an abandoned rail line and bounced back. The case was actually MUCH worse:
At the trial the following evidence, inter alia, was submitted: Crossing the first fairway of the Club’s nine-hole golf course are railroad tracks that are elevated approximately two feet above the fairway. The tracks can be seen from the first tee, and are depicted on the Club’s scoring cards and on a sign at the first tee. The Club has a “free lift” rule that allows a golfer whose ball lands near the tracks to place the ball across the tracks. The “free lift” area is designated by red markers approximately fifteen feet from the tracks. The parties stipulated that the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad Company owns the tracks, the land on which they are situated, and a strip of land that extends 33 feet on either side of the tracks.
On September 6, 1985, the Pelletiers played golf at the Club where Jeannine had played approximately 20 times previously. On the first hole, Jeannine’s second shot landed approximately 43 feet from the tracks. Jeannine’s next shot ricocheted off the tracks, hit her in the face, and injured her nose and face.
At the close of the Pelletiers’ case, the Club moved for a judgment as a matter of law, contending that it owed no duty to Jeannine because it neither owns the railroad tracks nor the land on which they are situated. The trial court denied the motion. By a special verdict form, the jury found that (1) the Club was negligent, (2) Jeannine was negligent, (3) Jeannine’s negligence was not equal to or greater than the negligence of the Club, (4) Jeannine’s total damages were $250,000 and (5) Jeannine’s total damages were to be reduced to $40,000. No damages were awarded to Gerard for loss of consortium. After a hearing, the trial court denied the Pelletiers’ motion for a new trial or, in the alternative, for an addition to the damage award to Jeannine and an award of damages to Gerard. From the judgment entered in accordance with the verdict, the Pelletiers appeal, and the Club cross-appeals.
So I didn’t even know it was from Maine, or that it was THAT bad a suit. Still this case also won some BIG money.
Still the results of this case conform to what many in the comments section said. When there are two negligent parties, levels of negligence are examined for the judgement. These cases also show that the courts can be completely full of shit, as McDonald’s Coffee was NOT abnormally hot, and the complainant indeed spilled the beverage she KNEW to be hot on herself through her own negligence. And the Maine Golf Club had made all patrons clearly aware, and marked where the rail line existed on the 1st whole, and added a club rule where the players could hand-carry the ball across the tracks if they failed to clear them on their first shot, and the complainant elected to take a second swing at the ball after her first shot when terribly wrong.
So what does this say about the self-inflicted gunshot wound in the gun store? Well the shop was INDEED negligent by supplying a gun that by all reason must have had a loaded magazine in it to a customer. Still the officer was likely trained in the safe handling and operation of a firearm, he disregarded this by A) not properly clearing the gun when it came into his possession, B)by sweeping every living soul in the shop, including himself, with a firearm he had not verified as clear, C) By pulling the trigger in a totally negligent manner where both he and a customer were beyond the muzzle…plus if you’re feeling the trigger, holding it like this is NOT going to give you a good feel for the the break.
So yeah, if the court is full of shit, this officer will get a payday for his stupidity….if it’s legit it should rule that the shop WAS negligent, but not even vastly as negligent as the officer who was shot, so no damages awarded IMHO.