Friday, December 16, 2011

Hot Coffee Documentary

A new documentary explores the rhetoric and politics of "tort reform." Hot Coffee: Is Justice Being Served? begins with the the case that has been fodder for comedians and politicians, Liebeck v. McDonald's.
Seinfeld mocked it. Letterman ranked it in his top ten list. And more than fifteen years later, its infamy continues. Everyone knows the McDonald’s coffee case. It has been routinely cited as an example of how citizens have taken advantage of America’s legal system, but is that a fair rendition of the facts? Hot Coffee reveals what really happened to Stella Liebeck, the Albuquerque woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald’s, while exploring how and why the case garnered so much media attention, who funded the effort and to what end. After seeing this film, you will decide who really profited from spilling hot coffee.
The next segment of the film looks at how a tort-reform damage cap has affected one family with a seriously disabled son.

And the third segment features Oliver Diaz, a justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court who successfully campaigned against a candidate backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, only to be indicted for accepting a bribe and then for tax fraud. Despite his acquittals, the charges kept him off the bench for years and probably cost him his next election.

The filmmaker, Susan Saladoff, is a lawyer who took on this project – her first film – during a sabbatical from her practice. She definitely has a point of view, and in the film and on the website encourages people to take action opposing tort reform. Whether or not you ultimately share her position, the film offers important information, with clips from advocates on both sides of the debate. Check it out: KF1250.H68 2011 at Classified Stacks.

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