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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

Taking the Lid Off To Expose the Facts

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“A lie can go halfway around the world before the truth has got its boots on.” ~ Mark Twain

It’s been over twenty years and the Stella Liebeck case is still a “hot” topic.  In 1992, Stella Liebeck spilled scalding McDonald’s coffee in her lap resulting in third-degree burns on a significant portion of her body.  After Ms. Liebeck sued McDonald’s for failing to accept responsibility, the case attracted a flood of negative media attention.  Why?  Because the public was quick to judge and most of the truth went unreported.

Many still don’t know all the facts or the extent of Liebeck’s injuries.  The New York Times’ Retro Report recently looked back at the case to examine how the facts got lost, misreported, and even outright distorted.  Here are a few truths that while many neglected, the jury, fortunately, had the correct information.

  1. She was seated in the passengers’ seat of a parked car (the car WAS NOT moving).
  2. She placed a cup of McDonald’s coffee between her knees, tried to remove the lip to pur cream and sugar, and spilled the coffee on herself.
  3. The coffee scalded 16% of her body; she suffered 3rd degree burns.
  4. The pain was so intense she went into shock.
  5. She was hospitalized for a week and had to have extensive skin grafts.
  6. The hospital bill was over $10,000. She asked McDonald’s to pay the bill and turn down the temperature of their coffee. This was all she wanted.
  7. She tried to settle with McDonald’s on more than one occasion, but McDonald’s refused, only offering her $800.
  8. McDonald’s coffee was served about 30 degrees hotter than most home coffee machines.  Trial testimony proved that the unreasonably hot coffee would cause 3rd degree burns in 15 seconds.
  9. McDonalds knew their coffee was too hot and had burned about 700 people in the previous 9 years.  The company had paid numerous claimes frior to the Liebeck case.
  10. In the end, the case was settled for less than $500,000, substantially less than the $2.7 million jury award.

I was pleased to read one posters comment to the New York Times article, “Not Just a Hot Cup Anymore” dated October 21, 2013 in which he said:

“Twenty years ago I too made jokes about her suit for being burned with hot coffee. Thank you for showing me how misinformed I was. Now, as a healthcare provider, I understand her injuries. And with this video I see how she rightly asked for payment of her medical bills. I’m so sorry she had to live with ridicule these many years. I’m appalled at the comments I read here.”

I urge each and every one of my readers to read the article and watch this video.

Educate yourself; look closely at the horrific photos depicting the severity of Ms. Liebeck’s burns.  You, too, may be surprised how the truth was spun for years to protect corporate America from accepting responsibility.  Only by continuing to bring the truth to the American people can we stop the travesty of tort reform.

Lawsuit Financial is a pro-justice lawsuit funding company that strongly supports a national ban on texting while driving.  Owner and founder, Mark Bello has thirty-six years experience as a trial lawyer and fourteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. Lawsuit Financial Corporation helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

1 Comment

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  1. jc says:
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    So let’s look at other facts. Plaintiff attorneys lose at least 85% of the medical malpractice cases that they try in court. Plaintiff attorneys drop, without payment, about 80% of the medical malpractice cases which they file. This is a failure rate unmatched in American industry. Isn’t it about time that we correct this situation and go to medical courts?