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Hot Coffee (2011)

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Release Date: Jun 24, 2011 Limited

audience

87

liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 703

My Rating

Movie Info

Seinfeld mocked it. Letterman ranked it in his top ten list. And more than fifteen years later, its infamy continues. Everyone knows the McDonald's coffee case. It has been routinely cited as an example of how citizens have taken advantage of America's legal system, but is that a fair rendition of the facts? Hot Coffee reveals what really happened to Stella Liebeck, the Albuquerque woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald's, while exploring how and why the case garnered so much

Unrated,

Documentary, Special Interest

Nov 1, 2011

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All Critics (6) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (3) | Rotten (0)

Everyone knows about the woman who spilled coffee on herself and won a $3 million judgment against McDonalds, but it turns out that most of what everyone knows about this case is wrong.

October 5, 2012 Full Review Source: PopMatters
PopMatters

Everyone knows about the woman who spilled coffee on herself and won a $3 million judgment against McDonalds, but it turns out that most of what everyone knows about this case is wrong.

April 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Playback:stl
Playback:stl

provides a journey through a legal system that is incrementally being subsumed by corporate interests on a daily basis.

February 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Audience Reviews for Hot Coffee

We've all heard about the case of a woman suing McDonald's for millions of dollars because she spilled coffee on herself. How much do you really know about it? Well apparently I didn't know much about it, and how severely burned the woman was(it shows pictures). This is a documentary that uses that case, along with 3 other cases, to shine a light on tort reform and the judicial system here in America. It's VERY eye opening. I learned quite a bit, and honestly it's a little scary to see how things really work. Like a woman who was raped while working for Halliburton, can't take them to court because of mandatory arbitration. There is a really sad case about a family who had twins, and a doctor messed up a diagnosis causing one of the twins to be brain damaged. Seeing what this family goes through and their struggles with the judicial system of Nebraska is almost unbelievable. The movie obviously has a political agenda, but one that I think more people should open their eyes to. Everyone should check this out sometime.
July 2, 2011
Everett Johnson

Super Reviewer

So, you have probably heard the story about the woman who won a multi-million dollar court case because she spilled coffee on herself at McDonald's, and perhaps had a good laugh at it. Except it is no laughing matter when it happened to 79-year old Stella Liebeck, who almost died due to the severe burns, as evidenced by some very graphic photographs. And she was one of seven hundred such complaints that would lead McDonald's to lower the temperature of their coffee.

That same case would also turn out to be the prime example that the Tort Reform movement would use in calling for the elimination of so called frivolous lawsuits and reduction of court damages. What they are really interested in is corporate profits, and even go so far as to fix the game by funding the election of amenable judges.

To the credit of the documentary "Hot Coffee," it is not only interested in showing that there are two sides to every story but to also show why the civil court system is so necessary in allowing for citizens to seek redress, address wrongs and prevent future tragedies. What the film does so well is to put a very human face on these cases by also citing a neo-natal malpractice case and a young woman who was gang raped while working for Halliburton in Iraq. And now I have a newfound respect for Al Franken.
May 27, 2013
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Like most documentaries, Hot Coffee uses a sample size of cases in the minority to push it's own agenda. The focus of the film is on tort reform and how it hurts people who have been legitimately injured. Tort laws put caps on the amount of money that an injured party can get, in certain types of lawsuits, for the purpose of stopping what the government considers to be frivolous claims. The documentary focuses on five specific cases and brings up the old discussion on whether or not it's better to let ten guilty men go free, rather than to punish one innocent person. Yes, the people in these stories were legitimately hurt and didn't get a fraction of what they deserved, because of these laws, but they are the exception instead of the rule. The most notable case the documentary focuses on is the case in which an elderly woman sued McDonald's, after she spilled hot coffee on herself. It's a case most people would consider frivolous, until you actually hear the facts. The woman's legal team was able to show that she received third degree burns and almost lost her life, because McDonald's required their coffee to be kept at a ridiculous 190 degrees. The elderly woman won over two million dollars, but had her award capped due to tort laws and the result was barely enough money to cover her medical bills. As I said before, these cases are exceptions to the rule, and by compiling these exceptions, this documentary makes it appear as though innocent American's are being screwed on a daily basis, which isn't true. While some people unfortunately fall through the cracks, the film fails to mention all the fraud and non-sense that has been stopped by these laws, or how these laws have kept insurance costs down. The bottom line, anyone can push any agenda they want, as long as they find a few select examples that can make their case for them, but it doesn't mean that their claims have merit.
April 20, 2014
Tss807

Super Reviewer

Its the type of documentary that should be shown in classrooms just so younger generations can have, at the very least, a basic understanding of how our legal system works and how easily it can be manipulated (or at least how easily the public can be manipulated to believe just about anything).
April 4, 2012
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

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