'Stella Awards' and other lies

'Stella Awards' and other lies
Civil Justice Under Attack
Special interests that are not fond of the democratic rights of civil justice have been working for years to convince us that our system is broken and in need of 'reform.' More about tort 'reform'

One of the most recent, most effective, and most insideous, techniques used to defame our justice system is the proliferation of phony press releases, 'contests' and planted letters to the editor.

Below are some of the more common false items you might run across in the news, and some facts to help debunk them.

The 'Stella Awards.' 
One of the more dated and obvious misinformation campaigns, the 'Stella Awards' are named for the unfortunate grandmother whose case against McDonalds for severe injuries caused by boiling coffee was so distorted in the media.

Though radio DJs and talk show hosts made light of the 'McDonald's Coffee Case,' the real facts were rarely presented.

Stella Liebeck received 3rd degree burns to her thighs and groin after spilling McDonald's coffee that was heated to a near-boiling 190 degrees. McDonald's own employees admitted that the coffee was 'unfit for human consumption' at tha temperature. The fast food megachian was aware of over 700 earlier cases involving injuries caused by superheated coffee but chose to continue to ignore industry safety standards anyway and continue to serve dangerously hot liquids to an unsuspecting public.

Liebeck offered to settle with McDonalds for only $20,000 --less than the cost of her medical treatments. (She spent 8 weeks in the hospital and undergoing physical therapy.) But McDonalds refused to settle.

The jury decided to sent the fast food company a message by awarding Mrs. Leibeck an amount that reflected one day's revenue from coffee.

The 'multi-million dollar verdict' that received so much press attention was reduced by the judge to to only a few hundred thousand dollars. Even that award was never paid and Leibeck settled out of court for a small fraction of the jury verdict.

It is ironic that these phony awards bear the name of a legitimately and severely injured person who has been unfairly targeted by the very industry that caused her injuries.

Debunking the 'Stella Awards.'
--Urban legands and myths. Where the Stella Awards were stolen from-- Go here and into 'Legal Affairs,' then to an item called 'Six real lawsuits that showcase the need for tort reform.' You'll see the bogus Stella Awards in their original from.
--ATLA debunks the 'Stella Awards.' 

From Truth or Fiction

The 'McDonald's Coffee Case'
The real facts:


Public Citizen

From the 'Lectric Law Library