Predatory stuff.

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30 Responses to Predatory stuff.

  1. glenford2000 says:

    It’s ok. It’s still funny!

  2. Stripe says:

    “A lawyer is the condom that protects the prick that’s trying screw you.”

    This from the lips of an actual attorney working to prevent the organization of a labor union.

    I recommend the documentary, “Live Nude Girls Unite!”

  3. Stripe says:


    …trying TO screw you.”


  4. AJ says:

    @JMA – you beat me to it.

  5. Kevin Warden says:

    As many times as I’ve read the arguments in favor of the lady spilling the coffee, I’d still have to say it’s her own damn fault. She still spilled it on herself, and she new it was hot. If I rub lye all over myself, should the company that sold it to me be responsible for me using it incorrectly?

  6. Mike says:

    @Kevin – what’s your definition of hot? Did you read JMA’s post?

  7. yefet says:

    i just love “parented by wolves= lawyers.”

    that’s great in itself.

  8. Douglas Swehla says:

    @Kevin, Mike,

    A lot of the problem was not so much the temperature of the coffee, but that
    1) the lid made it likely to spill, and
    2) McDonald’s were real jerks about it.

    Liebeck expected the coffee to be hot (it’s coffee. duh.), and took pains to make sure she opened it safely, but it still spilled all over her anyway.

    Now she’s got 3rd degree burns over 6% of her body and is racking up medical bills, so she calls up McDonald’s and says, Hey how ’bout some help here? And McDonald’s is all, Hey, how ’bout you f*** off?

    So she sued’em. Wouldn’t you?

    McDonald’s, apparently, were callous and indifferent all through the trial, which pissed off the jury to the extent that, after awarding Liebeck $200K in compensation, they added an additional $2.3M in punitive damages that, as far as I can tell, she never even asked for.

    Instead of spending a few grand on hiring someone to design an anti-spill lid, McDonald’s had spent the preceding decade shelling out an average of $50K a year on lawsuit damages (never mind lawyer fees), which, callous or not, is just dumb business sense. They _deserved_ to penalized.

    The outcome, of course, is that now we have lids that will come off when you want them too, plus those nifty little break-away panels, so it all worked out for the best.

  9. Lady says:


    Not to sound insensitive, but I agree with Kevin wholeheartedly. My coffeemaker heats the water till it’s hot – 192*F to be exact. I know if I’m not careful, I’m liable to burn myself and I don’t need some warning “Hey, coffee is hot. Real hot” to be wary. In the event I burn myself, shall I turn around and blame the maker for heating the water too high? No, for my clumsiness resulted in my injuries. I’m sorry that she was badly injured, but common sense should’ve kicked in after 79 years on this planet.

  10. A lawyer says:

    Being a lawyer I love this card! So true. :-)

    I’m not sure why the discussion drifted in this direction, but not liking McDonald’s I agree with the award of the damages to the plaintiff and with the award of punitive damages by a pissed-off jury. Were it on me to decide, however, I’d change the system and award the punitive damages to some charity or other. After all, stupidity, clumsiness and the sense of entitlement most plaintiffs (yes, and lawyers) have should not be rewarded.

  11. tahrey says:

    I still think it’s frivolous that the settlement was so high (when family members have been involved in claims for actual bodily injury caused by actual 3rd party incompetence and come out with _three_ figures. Still, it buys a nice soft new couch to rest your bruised bones on) … but there’s maybe still an element of blame on McD’s side even if it’s not millions of dollars worth. A simple, prompt apology, paying the medical expenses and committing to a better lid design & customer service training would probably have been enough.

    I’ve seen an element in that kind of rubbish design work with a can opener my mum likes to use for some reason. The good, modern one we have – with ergonomic rubber handles and an integrated bottle opener, etc – cuts very closely around the inner edge of the lid, leaving you with a blunt ended can, a not all too sharp lid remnant, and good control with minimum spillage, as the level of product stays below the top of the can. And when you’ve emptied it, the sorta-sharp lid (which you dont need to handle after this initial process anyway) can be dropped into the can, and it crushed down to trap it. One piece of lower-volume, low-risk waste, job done. No complaints other than it can be a little difficult to get the lid out if you’re clueless and don’t grab it when it pops upwards just before the final cut is made.
    Her older-design type (still, bought AFTER the first one!), all straight edge hard plastic, trims off the entire end of the can from the outside, barely missing the label. The can itself is left with an almost razor sharp protruding edge all around where you’re going to be digging your spoon in to get the last morsels out. If it’s a full or poorly settled one (e.g. the tuna chunks she used it to open last night, far away from the sink), you’re going to have spillage – both wasteful of food, and making a mess to be cleared up – and it’s also harder/messier to drain even if it doesn’t spill. This itself could be construed as a hazard as it contaminates surfaces and makes the can harder to hold if it gets slimy (which it did). Adding insult to injury, the can won’t crush properly any more (as it’s lost all structural integrity at one end), with the razor edge floppily creasing into a certain number of spikes instead (2~4, usually), the lid won’t easily fit in (certainly not when it’s a shallow one like a tuna can), and nor will it trap. So your waste volume has gone up, it’s in more parts, you and your surroundings are covered in sticky and/or slippery spillage, and there’s exposed and “dirty” sharp edges everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before something untoward happens, no matter how careful you are. There’s no excuse for it.

    And you could apply similar reasoning to an overfilled, overheated cup of crap-ass coffee with an ill fitting lid in an overly flimsy cup, supposedly sold as “to go” (ie its allegedly safe for you to order it at the drive thru then drink it in the car, even though you may have to pull over to do so) … such that no matter how carefully you prise off the lid, it ends up pinging off, vibrating and upsetting the balance of the rest of the cup, and causing overheated beverage to spill out onto you – as you’re holding it near your body in a typical “to go” situation – because the level of fluid in the cup was also too high and left no wiggle room for anything but poking a straw thru one of the little holes on top, and waiting 10 minutes or so for it to cool to a safe drinking temperature (insulated cup & lid, remember – and also, straw).


    But I do recognise the “raised by wolves” and “sense of entitlement” thing all the same. I’ve had injury lawyers coming asking ME if *I* wanted to sue for injury/damages when I reported an accident with a scooter to my insurers — they were following a bit close on a wet road, I had to brake hard, and they cannoned into the back of me. Net damage to my car: a small scratch on the (8 year old) bumper, and the license plate lamp popped out of its mount (easily pushed back). Damage to me: None. Damage to scooter: It’ll need at least some spanner work. Damage to rider: Unknown, walking wounded. It was a dark, isolated road, at about 4am (night shift in a country hotel), so after ensuring that they weren’t dead and had a decent chance of pushing their ride to the next farmhouse (half a mile), I bolted :-/ then felt guilty and reported it ASAP.

    But still received, as the first (and only) communication from the insurance team, a pack in the mail for me to fill in to claim damages from this unknown person. What the hell, guys?
    (Oh, and when you DO actually have to employ their services to recover substantial “uninsured costs” … oh, the delay and hold up, so they can rack up hours “spent” (at ~$200/hour) on resolving the case. Current problem, as per a letter received yesterday? (Dudes, I’ve mostly communicated with you by email and phone, what’s with the letter? Other than it being chargable to the 3rd party’s insurer at $30 a time?) They can’t track down the other driver. Even though I gave them his name, address, insurer and policy number, car registration and type, phone number…)

    And don’t get me started on the entitlement culture of the 90s (cable tv and playstations practically from birth) culture. I was a 1981 baby and even I can’t quite understand the ‘tude.

  12. Paul Archer says:

    @douglas, @lady

    You should read the link JMA provides. The problem was the the coffee was way hotter than normal, something like 190 degrees. That is, if you’ll think about it, near boiling. McD’s claims is was to keep the product fresher longer, and so a consumer who bought the coffee to-go would have hot coffee when he/she got to the office. But a liquid that hot is extremely dangerous, and as the plaintiff found, can cause third degree burns in a matter of just a couple of seconds.

    And Lady, if your coffee maker produces coffee that hot (and I doubt it actually does), then you’re in danger of getting the same third degree burns.

  13. Alexa says:

    AF = Homsar of Homestar Runner – “I was raised by a cup of coffee”

  14. eileen says:

    Jessica and @Alexa – you just made my week. seriously. :D

  15. AJ says:

    @tahrey –

    it wasn’t a settlement, it was a jury award. HUGE difference. and the fact of the punitive damages says much more about McD’s behavior than the actual damages awarded.

  16. This one is perfect. Absolutely perfect.

  17. I’ll have you know I was raised by wolves, and now I’m an author. That’s LIKE a lawyer, but I get to call my lies “fiction.”

  18. Bonus game: Finding other valid equations.


    Alternatively: BE=Antagonists of Little Red Riding Hood & Three Little Pigs.

  19. James says:

    AJ: The fact the award was greatly reduced by the judge, then reduced again in the out of court settlement before the appeal was heard, also speaks volumes – as does the fact other court cases with very similar arguments have been tossed out entirely, both in the UK (also against McDonalds) and unanimously in the US 7th Circuit where the plaintiff alleged their coffeemaker’s output was too hot.

    For comparison, I find the hot water from my Tefal One-Cup – at 85ºC, within 3ºC of the so-called “dangerous” McDonalds temperature – is not hot enough to make instant coffee properly, nor tea. I either heat the water a little more in the microwave, or use a regular kettle – both of which yield hotter water (and hence hotter coffee), although I don’t know exactly how much hotter.

  20. Eric says:

    Not to be “that guy”, but it seems to me that your third equation ought to be: C + E = F + G
    Just my two cents’ worth as a math geek

    @Georgie Chaos: While I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and say that your last equation should probably have “B + E” instead of “BE”. I still lol’d at the result of said equation anyway

  21. Elise says:

    Shame on you for posting this stale joke about a legitimate lawsuit, years after it ceased to be funny.

    Thanks to the first commenter for linking to that blog post — what I immediately waned to do. This post was neither thoughtful nor witty nor the product of even the most elementary research. It was despicable.

  22. Charles says:

    This case exemplifies just one facet of a somewhat effective consumer protection mechanism. Isolating events out of context by the willfully ignorant is what makes this case seem frivolous.

  23. Elizabeth says:

    I got a really good laugh after reading this post.

    And then I learned a thing or two after reading just a few of the comments.

    JMA, thanks for linking to that blog post. I had never heard more about that case than the basics, and was one of those folks who referenced it as the classic “frivolous lawsuit” example. I appreciate learning more about it, especially because when things hit the news, folks tend to remember the initial reports about it, even if there was follow-up coverage. (Though honestly I was pretty young back then and don’t know how much in-depth reporting there was on the matter.) So now I’ll stop using that case as an example, and I’ll be able to better inform other folks who are in the dark about it.

    I still think this comic is genius though :D It tapped into a shared memory to good effect. And when it comes to humor, who honestly researches everything? When you’re mistaken or don’t know about something, you normally don’t willfully stay that way, right? There was just something that you didn’t know, and no one knows everything.

  24. Elizabeth says:

    PS – I’m reading a little more about this, and am amazed at how much there is to know about coffee.

    Also, just wanted to make the point that there are at least 2 different questions going on here.
    1) Is this a frivolous lawsuit that shouldn’t have gotten a trial at all?
    2) Did the verdict make sense (McDonald’s being liable).

    These questions are related, but not necessarily the same. In my completely personal (not-an-expert-by-any-means) opinion, some of these facts merited going to trial. As for whether I agree with the jury’s verdict…I’m not sure. But at the very least, in my mind it isn’t a case of a frivolous lawsuit.

  25. michelle says:

    Well, all I can say is…
    if you think lawyers are raised by wolves, then the people who run McDonald’s must be Satan’s children.

    Have you seen “Supersize Me?” Have you ever looked at the calorie/sugar/sodium info on their food? Have you noticed how they target children and hook them on burgers and fries by like, age 3? They’re not the only ones, of course, but why would anyone ‘favor’ a bunch of vampires like these?

  26. Smedley Underfoot says:

    Thank you JMA I came on for the same reason


    You’ve missed a third question. It isn’t only if they should have been liable, but for what? For how much?

    What a lot of people do not understand about verdicts is that there are frequently two components: damages and punitive damages. Damages compensate for harm. Medical bills, etc. Punitive damages say, defendant you’re an idiot, you’ve gotten complaints in the past and reports of others being injured by your coffee and you’ve chosen to ignore them (all true). You claim it’s “freshness” which really means you’re keeping it this hot so you don’t have to throw out as much stale coffee. In other words you’re risking harm to people for the sake of money.

    Tort theory says we’re going to ignore the fact that it doesn’t make all that much sense to give the punitive damages to this one claimant (other than it also compensates the attorney willing to take on the uncertain case), but we assess them to remove the economic incentive for making the stupid choice.

    Faced with the prospect of a ruinous lawsuit, the defendant turns down the coffeepot and throws the leftover coffee out every 3 hours instead of every six. $30-40k of medical bills? Maybe not. Maybe they keep rolling the dice. But, maybe the next time it’s an infant…

  27. Lester says:

    Great site, and a funny cartoon…though the underlying facts of the case are not funny at all….it’s interesting how many people – once they take a look at the facts of the case – not what was ‘reported’ change their mind about just how frivolous this suit was…..I would suggest that, in large part, the ‘reporting’ helped lead to so many people seeing this as frivolous to begin with was pulled from press release(s) by the ‘tort-reform’ folks….crafted and shaped almost entirely by one side of the suit…the one with the really deep pockets, the one that is a fat and happy member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a sympathetic corporate media…..there’s hot, then there’s HOT,HOT,HOT, brewing it at 190 or so is fine…keeping it at that temp was insane;

    btw McDs coffee is no longer held or served at that temp, I guess maybe those lady with a sense of entitlement and those lawyers and the wolves who raised them served a purpose after all…..

  28. luckyluckygirl says:

    Aren’t they all _+_=_ , and not _x_=_ ?
    And isn’t the last one really C+E+F=G?

    But I could be wrong, and I’m just curious and pedantic.

  29. Kate says:

    At the risk of contributing to the echo chamber, two more facts often neglected by the general public and this comic:

    1) Liebeck initially wrote politely to McDonald’s asking them to cover her medical bills. When they finally got around to responding, they told her to fuck off, in so many words.

    2) McDonald’s HAD settled for the costs of medical bills with other people who had been severely injured by their coffee previous to Ms. Liebeck’s request. They just decided to draw a line in the sand with her case.

    And if you think lawyers are raised by wolves, you should perhaps research how the adversarial system of justice works. I was raised by a lawyer, and am a law student myself, and I’m proud of the work we do in our profession. It just might not make sense to people who don’t understand that we are hired to ADVOCATE for a party, and to get the jury to side with them, not to actually naively BELIEVE the arguments that are our job to present. Yes, there are a few assholes making us look bad, but just because lots of bad comics exist doesn’t mean all of those who draw them suck.