Published May 06, 2011Unless you were living under a shell for the past 19 years, you're most likely familiar with the infamous "McDonald's hot coffee" court case that sent the media industry into an upheaval years ago. You may think it's an outrage that a grown man received 2.7 million dollars for spilling coffee on himself, but how would you feel if you found out it really was an elderly woman named Stella Liebeck that burned herself? How would you feel if you saw the horrific burns on her private areas or react if you found out that she only wanted enough money for medical attention?
First-time director Susan Saladoff exposes the corrupt corporate media campaign that twisted a U.S. citizen's complaint into a frivolous lawsuit while also examining three other cases where harmed, innocent people fell victim to tort reforms, arbitration clauses and non-economic damage caps that prevented them from getting the money and justice they so rightfully deserved.
Saladoff's provocative, yet easily digestible, documentary is able to break down legal terminology for uninformed viewers while also showcasing how so many Americans have no clue as to what the so-called "frivolous" lawsuits were really about and how so many people simply formed their opinions on the subject matter from media ads, dim-witted talk show hosts and television show parodies.
Whether you agree or disagree with the participants in the documentary, viewers will feel outraged to see the damage done to a family who were not given the money they were originally awarded to help their disabled child due to non-economic damage caps. The audience will also fight back tears when hearing how Jamie Leigh Jones couldn't rightfully sue KBR/Halliburton after she was gang-raped by seven fellow co-workers in Iraq because she had an arbitration clause in her contract with the company that prevented her from doing so.
No matter what your stance is on U.S. civil justice reforms, after watching the documentary there is no question viewers will applaud Hot Coffee for its informative facts and heartrending anecdotes. (HBO)