A documentary about infamous personal injury lawsuits has received rave reviews and recognition from several film festivals. Hot Coffee, produced by Susan Saladoff, details three cases, including Liebeck vs. McDonald’s Restaurants, a case that drew criticism because the jury awarded $2.86 million to the plaintiff. Mrs. Liebeck was an elderly woman who suffered third degree burns and spent over a week in the hospital recovering. Her treatment included painful skin grafts. Her daughter and son-in-law were interviewed about the case in the film below:
The film’s premise is that corporations have invested heavily to create a justice system that is unfairly weighted in the favor of businesses.
Because of the success of the public relations campaigns, paid for by tobacco, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, to name a few, our civil justice system is not impartial. Jurors have been led to believe that a large verdict will affect their pocketbooks. Voters believe that we have a court system out of control that needs reforming. Although there are consumer advocacy groups who have attempted to set the story straight, there has yet to be enough money to launch the kind of public relations campaign for consumers that can even begin to combat and challenge the public relations campaigns of pro-business and tort reform groups. Over the last few years, however, documentary films and independent film festivals have become a vehicle for alternative ideas to get a public forum.
The film premiers on HBO in late June. You can find more information on the website, Hotcoffeethemovie.com.