Hot Coffee Documentary Online : FREE Summary


Hot Coffee Documentary Online : The “HOT COFFEE DOCUMENTARY” is about the journey of Tort + Its reform + Frivolous lawsuits + Influence of corporate sector + Mandatory Arbitration clauses.It is divided into 4 Exhibit in which the filmmaker Susan Saladoff uses the infamous legal battle that began with a spilled cup of coffee to investigate what’s behind America’s zeal for tort reform which threatens to restrict the legal right of everyday citizens and undermine the entire civil justice system.

Free Hot Coffee Documentary Online

Free Hot Coffee Documentary Online

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Exhibit I ( Hot Coffee Documentary Online )

The Basic purpose of Tort is :- When YOU are hurt or harmed by someone or the person is negligent or does that intentionally ,You have the right to hold them in court.
The same purpose was fulfilled in the case of

Liebeck vMcDonald’s Restaurants

Hot Coffee Movie Observation

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Where the plaintiff Stella Liebeck an 80 yr. old woman who suffered  grievous injuries when a extremely hot186 degree hot coffee was spilled on her lap while she was trying to put a cap on that burning hot coffee cup in her car .
McDonald’s served Mrs. Liebeck coffee at 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit. According to her surgeon , “Any hot liquid, if it’s in the range of 180 degrees or hotter, if it’s in contact with your skin for more than just a few seconds… if you’re lucky it will produce second degree burns. If you’re not as lucky, you will get 3rd degree or full thickness burns requiring skin grafts and surgery.
After the medical treatment $10,000 the family sued for compensation for the incident and received a reply which generally these big companies do in case of any mishap from their side “We are not accountable for this damage, it was your own fault”Even though McDonalds admitted that serving coffee between 180-190 degrees was the standard policy of the company, they couldn’t do much at that point of time.

Stella and her family were not happy with this kind of approach and sued McDonalds for compensation and after hearing all the arguments and facts of the case the jury decided a whopping sum of $160,000 as compensation  for the incident +  Punitive damages = $2.7 million which was later reduced to $480,000 and McDonald was made to state the it engaged in “Wilfully and Recklessly” towards this incident. Stella also got and undisclosed settlement from the company.

Observation (Hot Coffee Documentary Online) :-

Court Awarded PUNITIVE DAMAGES (Damages exceeding simple compensation and awarded to punish the defendant )to the plaintiff which are quite rare .As McDonalds was negligent and needed to be taught a lesson + to set an example for other firms out there , that wilful ignorance  and negligence would not be tolerated.

After this case made headlines due to excessive punitive damages awarded to the plaintiff people started making mockery and sarcastic comments about the incident and called the ruling as unjust. There was no limit to amount of daft and frivolous lawsuits reported by public to try their chance to win another jackpot lawsuit .So to deal with this issue the government had to bring in TORT REFORM.

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Exhibit II ( Hot Coffee Documentary Online )

Caps On Damages

Case :- A man while using a phone booth was hit by a truck driver and lost his leg in the crash, so went to court where he instead of suing the truck driver forcompensation sued the telephone company who had installed that phone booth there, with just claims :- that he tried to open and run away to safety when saw that the truck coming towards him from a good distance but couldn’t do so because the gate of the booth was jammed , also the phone booth was built near the highway at a very dangerous spot where road accidents are a common to happen. But he couldn’t claim compensation because of the newly passed TORT REFORM which Restricts the publicright to go to court and file a suit on certain cases of TORT, it’s main aims is to limit the no. of lawsuits, Also reduce damages from these litigations.

Karl Rove the Former White House Deputy Chief Of Staff was considered the master mind of the tort reform whoIn the mid-1990s, with the Republicans made a push for tort reform,reducing the risk of frivolous lawsuits through legislation that capped the damages that can be awarded in lawsuits. He used the money from the US Chamber of Commerce which was donated by multimillionaires and big corporations to restrict the public from taking lawsuits against them in courts, which was a contradiction of the 7th amendment of US constitution (guarantee to trial by jury).

Example of a landmark case was of Colin Gourley where CAP ON DAMAGES lead to unjustice when a couple had to suffer the malpractice and negligence of a doctor.


Free Hot Coffee Documentary Online Summary

When Lisa noticed less kicking from her twins one day during her pregnancy, she visited her doctor (Dr.Knolla) who listened to their heartbeats and reassured her that everything was fine. Whereas her babies were suffering from TTTS (TwinTransfusion Syndrome) after noticing less and less activity from the twins, Lisa and her husband returned to the hospital. A different doctor performed an ultrasound, and then ordered an emergency C-Section. One of the twins came out healthy; the other, Colin, suffered extensive brain damage due to a lack of blood flow and oxygen depletion.

Confused and given no information from the hospital, the Gourleys ultimately landed in court. They came to know that Dr Knolla had previously sued for malpractices and this time also due to her negligence Little Colin has to suffer for a lifetime. Court after hearing the both sides considered the hospital and Dr Knolla guilty and awarded  $5.6 Million which would pay up for the lifetime care of Colin Gourley. But the jury was unaware about the Nebraska CAPON DAMAGES which reduced the compensation amount to $1.25 million, which was not considered enough for the family and now had to suffer and seek justice elsewhere.

Observation (Hot Coffee Documentary Online) :-

Jury does not determine the compensation amount keeping in mind the CAPS ON DAMAGES in the particular state. They tend to determine the amount which is just and would help the plaintiff stand back up on its feet and be able to recover from the loss he/she has incurred due to the fault of the defendant. Justice is not considered totally just only if the jury determines who is innocent or guilty; it needs to punish the defaulter and set an example for the general public. Putting Limit to damages restricts the ability of the judicial system to deliver complete justice.

As CAPS TO DAMAGES faced a major criticism from the public and opposition Karl Rove and Republicans came up with another plan to keep the points in their favour. They started influencing judgments by influencing the judges or appointing judges who tend to rule judgments in their favour.

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Exhibit III ( Hot Coffee Documentary Online )

Election of Court Judge

When Karl Rove was heavily criticized in public he tried to do his work of protecting his rich friends and their companies by appointing judges which would tend be more conservative and in favour of corporate firms in cases of tort. This act was more noticeable when news of Oliver Diaz came up.

When state Supreme Courts were holding caps on damages unconstitutional, Karl Rove and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce masterminded a national campaign to unseat judges who stood in the way of tort reform.  Oliver Diaz was a judge by profession who ran for Supreme Court Electionhe was idealized as a person who would do justice in cases where public / individuals would go against big companies for negligencecaused by them resulted in heavy damages to general public .Karl Rove and the Republicans considered him as danger who could cause harm to the basic idea of TORT REFORM which they had thought of. So they started –ve (negative) campaigning against him. They used to portray him as anti – public – friendly who would to rule unjustly and help his criminal friends get free from legitimate charges.
But despite all their efforts and huge funding by the US Chamber Of Commerce  Oliver Diaz  was appointed judge at the Supreme Court by Governor Ronnie Musgrove. In 2000, he was elected to the Supreme Court for an eight year term beginning January 2001.

But Good days couldn’t sink in for quite long, he was subsequently prosecuted on criminal charges of tax fraud that were intended to taint his reputation. He was acquitted at trail but lost next election, unable to overcome the –ve (negative) publicity. A pro-tort reform judge has taken his place which were the initially plans of Karl Rove. Oliver Diaz pointed out that “They” couldn’t win by election process they turned to prosecution to bring me down.

Exhibit IV ( Hot Coffee Documentary Online )

Mandatory Arbitration

When we tend to buy a mobile phone or get a new credit card we do not think about reading  instructions before use ,then reading about the contract + terms and conditions involved in them is a far heard thing. This ignorance sometimes lead to horrific accidents and cases. Like the case of Jamie Leigh Jones and the Mandatory Arbitration terms in her Arbitration contracts (a private alternative to a court case) is one such example.

Jamie Leigh Jones vs Halliburton

Jamie Leigh Jones is a former employee of KBR, an American engineering, construction and private military contracting company. Who was sent to Iraq for the company’s assignment, she was told that she would get proper accommodationand when she returns a promotion would be handed to her.Instead she was housed with almost 200 hundred men ,Where they drugged her and brutally raped her. She reported that when she awoke the next morning, she “found her body naked and severely bruised, with lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants were ruptured, and her pectoral muscles torn” – which would later require reconstructive surgery. Later when she reported this to the authorities they locked her into a shipping container with the intent on keeping her from going public.

When she returned home and tried to sue them , she was unable to do so because of the MANDATORY ARBITRATION clause in her employment contract( A contract clause that prevents conflicts from going to judicial court between employee and employer , This means that any conflict must be solved through arbitration) .
In these types of cases the plaintiff is not allowed to go to open court and deal with the suit only in a secret trial, where the arbitrator is appointed by the company itself and there can be no say of the employee. Also there is NO Right to Appeal in Mandatory Arbitration. It is the only form of justice that the employee can get.

Observation (Hot Coffee Documentary Online) :-

These contracts are made for the benefit of the company and the employee is generally forced into them. It helps to keep the company on the upper hand and employee has to suffer. Either the employee is totally unaware of such type of clause / or the person cannot completely understand what it actually means or the company many a times tend to add such clauses without much of notice or keep it hidden within lines. It makes a scenario of not Free consent or Fraud, as employee has no other option to accept these conditions otherwise he would tend to lose his/her job.

The documentary features how people tend to suffer because of the TORT REFORM and how it changes over time. Though the movie’s pro-plaintiff’s transparency it helps to remove some of the common misconception and misrepresentation about the concept of tort reform. It ultimately questions the effectiveness of the civil justice system of US which is heavily influenced by bottom-line corporate interest.

“When You Win A Case, You Win It For Other People,You Set An EXAMPLE – Stella Liebeck

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Prince Gumber - August 31, 2017

Thank for the information admin


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