In 1992, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck bought a cup of takeout coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Albuquerque and spilled it on her lap. She sued McDonald’s and two years later, a jury awarded her nearly $3 million in punitive damages for the burns she suffered.
One of the jurors said over the course of the trial he came to realize the case was about “callous disregard for the safety of the people.”Another juror said “the facts were so overwhelmingly against the company.”
Since the lawsuit, McDonald’s – and most other places – no longer serve coffee very hot.
In September 2012, the school system in Cranston, R.I., announced it is banning traditional father-daughter and mother-son activities, saying they are a violation of the state’s gender discrimination law. It decision was in response to a complaint from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) on behalf of a single mother who said her daughter was not able to attend a father-daughter-dance.
The Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence reports that an average of 268 people are shot every day in America. That’s 97,820 per year. Yet despite decades of efforts, no one can make the NRA budge a little to help protect Americans let alone sue it the way the coffee drinker did with McDonald’s.
I guess third degree burns on one’s inner thighs and a single woman’s anger over her daughter not going to the daddy-daughter dance are worthy of more instantaneous legal response.