Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The 2003 Stella Awards

This award, reminiscent of the Darwin Award, is named after Stella Liebeck who was awarded $2.9 million in damages (the appeal court reduced it to $640K--what a bummer) when she sued McDonald's after spilling hot coffee on herself. It has become the epitome of frivolous lawsuits, but many people, thinking, no doubt, that "what's good for the goose..." decided they would try their hand at getting money for their own mistakes. The Stella Awards is the result. There were also a series of spoofs on the real Stella Awards, which are almost as believable.

Out of curiosity, I did a search on "Liebeck and McDonald's" in Google. It came up with the McDonald's Coffee Case, which explains in more details the reason for the suit. The fact that Stella received 3rd degree burns and spent 8 days in hospital for skin grafts is usually overlooked.

On the other hand, people usually like their coffee hot (or cold), not lukewarm. The temperature McDonald's served its coffee was the right one (88C) according to the National Coffee Association. So, who's right, do you think? The case will feed lawyers for years to come, I imagine.

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