July 14 roundup


  • MADD is a non-profit my ass.

  • A belated comment on the McDonald’s hot coffee case:

    From WO’s post at

    >I’m pretty sure no groups critical of the Liebeck award ever did a comparable press push; and the McDonald’s company itself, so far as I know, never chose to cooperate with commentators who might be sympathetic to its legal case.
    [end of quote]

    Though sympathetic to tort reform, I can understand why McDonald’s does not want to revisit this case. The $2.7 million punitive damages to force them to cool their coffee to the temperature of dishwater was out of line. But some of the arguments that it was *all* the plaintiff’s fault remind me of Whitaker Chambers’s notorious paraphrase of Atlas Shrugged, “To a gas chamber — go!”

    The extraordinary burns that the plaintiff got made her case an “exception that proves the rule,” distinct from the usual whiners and hustlers seeking big payoffs for minor injuries. For a big company, it is sometimes best to pay to make bad publicity go away.

    Although the plaintiff’s attorney standard of 135-140 degrees (or at most 155 degrees) has not been adopted, I believe the current standards for Starbucks and McDonalds are a bit lower than the 193 degrees cited in this case. (ON the other hand, when I make tea at home, I always boil the water.)

    It might make sense to serve car customers, subject to extra spill hazards, at a somewhat lower temperature than counter customers.

    I understand the cups used to serve car sustomers have been redesigned to make spills less likely.