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  • Our justice system is way less impartial

  • than we like to think.

  • Adam, I'm serious!

  • Kendra's freedom is on the line. Please stop scaring her.

  • Nope, I knew it.

  • The system is gonna screw me.

  • They throw innocent people in jail

  • while some old lady who spills hot coffee

  • on herself gets a million bucks.

  • Ah, yes, the famous

  • McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit.

  • That case was terrible,

  • but not for the reason you think.

  • In fact, everything you've heard about it is wrong.

  • (sighing)

  • Tell me,

  • what do you think happened in that case?

  • So, there was this greedy lady,

  • and she was all...

  • I want money. My ethics are questionable.

  • So, she gets a coffee

  • at McDonalds, but she's like...

  • I'm too dumb to know that coffee is hot.

  • And she's driving all crazy.

  • And she spills a little on her lap.

  • (screams loudly)

  • Then she's all like...

  • Boo hoo! I'm suing McDonalds!

  • I deserve money for being stupid.

  • And now, she's a millionaire,

  • and probably owns the Clippers or whatever.

  • Oof! Sorry, all of that is wrong--

  • the facts, the outcome,

  • and especially that voice.

  • Hey!

  • A strong choice is better than no choice at all.

  • Here's what actually happened.

  • Stella Liebeck was a 79-year-old woman

  • whose grandson drove her to McDonalds.

  • She was in a parked car holding hot coffee

  • in her lap when it spilled.

  • Now, Stella openly admitted

  • that the spill was her mistake,

  • but the results were horrifying.

  • She had third degree burns on her legs and genitals,

  • and she went into shock.

  • She had to undergo painful skin graft operations,

  • and her surgeon said it was one

  • of the worst cases he had ever seen.

  • Stella was permanently disfigured and nearly died.

  • Third degree burns? How is that possible?

  • No one serves coffee that hot.

  • You're right. Only a clown would.

  • The reason Stella's injuries were so severe

  • is that McDonalds was serving coffee

  • at up to 190 degrees.

  • That's almost boiling!

  • McDonalds themselves even admitted that

  • at that temperature, their coffee was a hazard.

  • In fact, in the decade prior,

  • over 700 people notified McDonalds

  • that they had been burned by their coffee.

  • Holy crow!

  • The real irony is,

  • Stella didn't even want to go to court.

  • She just wanted McDonalds to help pay

  • her $20,000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses.

  • But after making her wait for six months,

  • they only offered her 800 bucks.

  • Stella tried to get McDonalds to settle.

  • She even agreed to mediation.

  • But McDonalds wouldn't budge.

  • They gave her no choice but to go to court.

  • So when the jury heard Stella's story,

  • they found that McDonalds had acted so irresponsibly,

  • they had to be punished.

  • They burned 700 people?

  • This has gotta stop!

  • Let's fine them two days' coffee sales.

  • That's 2.7 million.

  • That ought to teach 'em a lesson.

  • It does. Robble-robble.

  • And, it worked.

  • In the end, Stella settled for less than 600 grand.

  • But that was enough to get McDonalds

  • to lower their temperature and stop burning people.

  • This was an incredibly rare case where

  • a working-class victim actually beat

  • a huge team of corporate lawyers

  • and made the world a better place.

  • Wow, how do I not know about this?

  • Because those corporate lawyers

  • are really good at their jobs.

  • They spent years running a disinformation campaign

  • to convince Americans that there was

  • "an epidemic of frivolous lawsuits."

  • And the media bought it.

  • It seems she was holding a cup

  • between her legs while driving.

  • Now she claims she broke her nose

  • on the sneeze guard at the Sizzler

  • bending over looking at the chickpeas.

  • You get me one coffee drinker on that jury,

  • you're gonna walk out of there a rich man.

  • (clicks tongue)

  • Plasma getting bigger, Jesus getting smaller

  • Spill a cup of coffee, make a million dollars ♪♪

  • And because of this false narrative,

  • the witch hunt against "frivolous lawsuits"

  • continues to this day.

  • (all) Coffee's hot, suing's not.

  • Lawsuits never should be brought.

  • Coffee's hot, suing's not.

  • Wow, they're really mad.

  • Except that that anger is not real.

  • These protests have been organized and sponsored

  • by large corporations.

  • Kendra, this Michael McCann,

  • he's a professor of law and politics

  • at the University of Washington

  • and a co-author of distorting the law.

  • Kendra, for the last several decades,

  • large corporations afraid of being sued

  • for making unsafe products

  • create front groups like "Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse"

  • to try and turn public opinion against lawsuits.

  • This included companies like Pfizer and Texaco

  • and big tobacco companies like Philip Morris.

  • Philip Morris?

  • Yeah, and by spreading this false story,

  • they got everyone to believe

  • that silly lawsuits were rampant.

  • And nothing could be further from the truth.

  • The best social science evidence

  • shows that the number of personal injury lawsuits

  • in recent decades has declined.

  • And the median payout is only $55,000.

  • Uh-oh! They smell the money.

  • I better get out of here. Bye.

  • Thanks, Michael.

  • These mother falcon companies

  • dragged an old lady through the mud

  • so that we won't be able to sue them anymore?

  • Yeah. This story is insane.

  • McDonalds had a policy that almost killed someone

  • and it took Stella's lawsuit to change it.

  • She should be considered a hero.

  • But because of the companies, we treat her like a punch-line.

  • Okay, are you two done talking about civil court cases?

  • Because Kendra's case is in criminal court.

  • It's a completely different system,

  • the one I happen to know quite a bit about.

  • She has a great case

  • and a jury is gonna be very responsive to it.

  • Oh, they're a ton of problems with jury trials.

  • If you do another act, I swear to gull...

  • Sorry, it's happening. We'll be right back.

Our justice system is way less impartial

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Adam Ruins Everything - The Truth About the McDonald's Coffee Lawsuit

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    Kristi Yang posted on 2017/01/06
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