But what about that McDonald’s coffee case? Wasn’t that frivolous and didn’t that woman get millions of dollar for spilling hot coffee on herself?

No. The facts of that case are: Stella Liebeck, 79-years-old, was trying to remove the lid on her coffee when it tipped over, pouring scalding hot coffee onto her. McDonald's sold its coffee at 180 to 190 degrees even though the Shriner’s Burn Institute in Cincinnati had published warnings to the franchise food industry that its members were unnecessarily causing serious scald burns by serving beverages above 130 degrees. When Ms. Liebeck was burned by the coffee, McDonald's coffee had already burned more than 700 people, including infants. Liebeck received third-degree burns over 16 percent of her body, necessitating hospitalization for eight days, whirlpool treatment for debridement of her wounds, skin grafting, scarring, and disability for more than two years. Despite these extensive injuries, she offered to settle with McDonald’s for $20,000. McDonald’s refused to settle. The jury awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages for McDonald’s callous and willful conduct. The trial judge reduced the punitive damages to $480,000. Subsequently, the parties settled confidentially for less.

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