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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Little League Coach is suing his 14 year old player for more than $500,000

Parents can take all the fun out of sports.

A California Little League coach is suing one of his 14-year-old players for unintentionally hitting him with his helmet after a walk-off hit, according to KCRA 3 in Sacramento.

 

The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 16, 2014 at 12:31 PM | 257 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: little league

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   1. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4640389)
Ignoring how crazy this all sounds, how does that accident even work? I can see a helmet hitting someone's face and breaking a nose or something, but tearing an achilles tendon?
   2. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4640392)
Ignoring how crazy this all sounds, how does that accident even work? I can see a helmet hitting someone's face and breaking a nose or something, but tearing an achilles tendon?


Best I can come up with is the guy stepped on it and slipped.

And by the way, what an #######.
   3. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:19 PM (#4640396)
Kid's family is already out a few grand for legal representation.
   4. Bob Tufts Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4640403)
The kid should have his parents taken away from him.
   5. BDC Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4640404)
The kid countersued for $1.7M for emotional distress due to cancellation of the team pizza party. The coach responded with a $3.8M action, claiming the kid had overrepresented the hotness of his mom.
   6. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:30 PM (#4640417)
I hate lawyers. I am a lawyer.
   7. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:36 PM (#4640425)
I don't feel like RTFA. Is he suing the kid directly or is he really just suing the League's insurance and saying he's suing the kid makes a fancier headline?
   8. zonk Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4640432)
Nope - suing the kid, by all appearances... the claim isn't included, but all indications are that he's suing the kid:

The coach of the Lakeside Little League team, Alan Beck, claims the boy “carelessly” tossed his helmet in the air in celebration, and it struck Beck’s Achilles tendon and tore it. Beck is seeking more than $500,000 for pain and suffering and an additional $100,000 for lost wages and medical bills. “I don’t think the boy meant to harm him,” said Gene Goldsman, Beck’s attorney. “But, this wasn’t a part of the game. A guy who volunteers his time to coach should not be subjected to someone who throws a helmet in the manner that he did. What the kid did, it crossed the line.”


Nothing indicating the suit goes any further than the kid.

Of course, Murray Chass says the kid has acne -- so let's not all go weepy for the young lad just yet.... He might be on PEDs.
   9. Good cripple hitter Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:43 PM (#4640433)
I don't feel like RTFA. Is he suing the kid directly or is he really just suing the League's insurance and saying he's suing the kid makes a fancier headline?


It looks like he's suing the kid directly. From the article that above article was based on:

Bill Portanova, a legal expert in Sacramento, told KCRA 3 that California law does allow children to be sued for their actions.

Portanova pointed out that many homeowners' insurance policies can cover legal expenses in a case like this for the defendant.

However, Paris said he doesn't have homeowners insurance and can't afford to continue to fight this legal action much longer.

"I've already spent over $4,000 and we haven't even been in a courtroom yet," Paris said.
   10. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4640434)
He's just wasting everyone's time then.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:47 PM (#4640441)
This coach should get the crap beaten out of him. What an ass!
   12. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:47 PM (#4640442)
Looks like the defendants are Ryan, Raegan (did not misspell it), and Joe Paris along with Lakeside Little League.

Can't open any of the court documents though, to see what is inside.
   13. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:53 PM (#4640447)
California law does allow children to be sued for their actions.

Is that even legal?

The sooner California slides off to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, the better.
   14. Dudefella Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4640449)
Most (all?) states allow children to be sued for their actions. It's not just some wacky California thing.
   15. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 16, 2014 at 02:57 PM (#4640453)
The sooner California slides off to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, the better.

I wish California could be as grand a place as wherever you're from!
   16. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 03:01 PM (#4640461)
Pahrump, Nevada.
   17. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 16, 2014 at 03:01 PM (#4640463)
Alan Beck, claims the boy “carelessly” tossed his helmet in the air in celebration, and it struck Beck’s Achilles tendon and tore it.


You couldn't tear an Achilles tendon with a helmet if you sat there sawing at the tendon with the bill of the helmet for half an hour.
   18. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 16, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4640469)
Pahrump, Nevada.

Pat Rapper is Lex Luthor and I claim my 5 dollars!
   19. Ron J2 Posted: January 16, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4640472)
#17 You obviously have never been hit by a vorpal helmet.
   20. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 16, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4640473)
You couldn't tear an Achilles tendon with a helmet if you sat there sawing at the tendon with the bill of the helmet for half an hour.


It would have been nice to have had this information 36 hours ago.
   21. zonk Posted: January 16, 2014 at 03:13 PM (#4640475)

It would have been nice to have this information 36 hours ago.


Cheer up... now you've got either a product liability or a faulty product tort against the helmet company.
   22. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 16, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4640476)
The sooner California slides off to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, the better.


I predict this motel will be standing, until I pay my bill.
   23. Anonymous Observer Posted: January 16, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4640493)
What happens in a case like this where the defendant can't afford legal counsel?
   24. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 16, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4640511)
This coach should have his child players taken away from him.
   25. Depressoteric Posted: January 16, 2014 at 03:46 PM (#4640516)
What happens in a case like this where the defendant can't afford legal counsel?
Very Bad Things. You're entitled to a public defender in criminal cases, but not in civil litigation. Therefore if you can't afford to defend yourself, Plaintiff will usually get a default judgment against you and proceed to collection, which can lead to liens upon your property, garnishment of bank accounts, wages, etc.

Of course in most cases this never happens for a simple, sensible reason: lawyers don't waste their time going after indigent defendants in personal injury cases, since PI claims are almost always taken on contingency -- i.e. attorney gets a fixed percentage of whatever is collected in judgment and doesn't get a dime otherwise regardless of how hard he's worked -- and if a defendant is too poor to pay ("judgment-proof") then there's no money in it for the attorney.

Now if this asshole's lawyer is billing hourly (in which case the plaintiff is getting taken to the cleaners and I laugh at him) then that calculus is irrelevant -- the attorney will take the case because he's getting paid regardless of the outcome.
   26. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: January 16, 2014 at 04:05 PM (#4640539)
Is there a kickstarter or similar site to help people with legal bills?
   27. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 16, 2014 at 04:08 PM (#4640541)
I'm surprised this ass-hat hasn't sued MLB for condoning this type of celebration and setting a bad example for our nation's youth.
   28. Ron J2 Posted: January 16, 2014 at 04:11 PM (#4640542)
#27 Just wait.
   29. bigglou115 Posted: January 16, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4640550)
Very Bad Things. You're entitled to a public defender in criminal cases, but not in civil litigation. Therefore if you can't afford to defend yourself, Plaintiff will usually get a default judgment against you and proceed to collection, which can lead to liens upon your property, garnishment of bank accounts, wages, etc.

Of course in most cases this never happens for a simple, sensible reason: lawyers don't waste their time going after indigent defendants in personal injury cases, since PI claims are almost always taken on contingency -- i.e. attorney gets a fixed percentage of whatever is collected in judgment and doesn't get a dime otherwise regardless of how hard he's worked -- and if a defendant is too poor to pay ("judgment-proof") then there's no money in it for the attorney.

Now if this #######'s lawyer is billing hourly (in which case the plaintiff is getting taken to the cleaners and I laugh at him) then that calculus is irrelevant -- the attorney will take the case because he's getting paid regardless of the outcome.


Well, were a client can't defend themselves there are generally legal aid and clinic options available. The real problems arise when someone falls in the middle, above the poverty line and incapable of paying a hefty defense bill without mortgaging their home. I've taken those cases, but sadly I'm not licensed in California, but I have to assume if there's a bleeding heart like me in Arkansas there'll be one in California.
   30. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 16, 2014 at 05:12 PM (#4640585)
Would it really be that hard to defend yourself against such a preposterous lawsuit as this? The only real danger you could be in is missing a filing deadline or something.

If the answer to the above question is "no" then I might suggest our legal system might be fundamentally broken and in need of a do-over.
   31. zonk Posted: January 16, 2014 at 05:22 PM (#4640591)
Would it really be that hard to defend yourself against such a preposterous lawsuit as this? The only real danger you could be in is missing a filing deadline or something.


If the dude had sued for a few K.... but I don't know that I'd risk that for a $600K suit -- and I say that as a non-attorney with a strong tendency to foolishly think I could sit for the bar tomorrow and pass it.



   32. bfan Posted: January 16, 2014 at 05:31 PM (#4640596)
I'm surprised this ass-hat hasn't sued MLB for condoning this type of celebration and setting a bad example for our nation's youth.


I'm with you; there has to be deeper pockets to achieve the nuisance pay-off this bothersome duo wants (how about the sanctionaing body for the league, like little league?).
   33. EddieA Posted: January 16, 2014 at 05:31 PM (#4640597)
This is the drawback of the Lawyers, Inc legal system where there is apparently no will at all to make the offending LAWYER in a frivolous lawsuit take care of all legal expenses.
But back to the issue at hand, it would take a specially honed helmet with exotic materials to slice an achilles tendon, and whoever such a helmet hit would have suffered severe injury - the kid would still have to have a terrific arm. It's incredible. He must have tried to dodge it and have been injured. Same thing could have happened trying to catch something or chase something down or get into better position to see. Every on-field, on-court involvement in athletics has a siginificant opportunity for an over-the-hill guy to tear his achilles (or knee).
   34. thetailor Posted: January 16, 2014 at 05:34 PM (#4640599)
Whenever I hear about suits like this, I can't help but wonder what we don't know about it that would make a rational person bring it. The McDonalds hot-coffee lawsuit is a great example. People laugh about it, but if you knew the facts, you'd know that it was NOT a joke lawsuit.

This guy is suing a little kid for throwing his helmet in the air, which is absurd on its face. He also alleges that he tore his achilles tendon somehow as a result of that, which is also absurd. But he found a lawyer to take it, and to sign his name to the papers swearing that they have merit.

I mean ... I don't know ... maybe he threw it right at the coach's face, and the coach was standing on the top step of the dugout? Maybe he hated the coach and intended to hurt him? I have no idea. But the lawyer's quote doesn't make it sound any more reasonable: "What the kid did, it crossed the line."
   35. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2014 at 05:35 PM (#4640601)
I'm not from California, but there could be more to this suit than meets the eye--especially as seen through a superficial news account. Maybe he's suing the Little League and its insurer and only including the kid as a formality.
   36. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: January 16, 2014 at 05:43 PM (#4640604)
it was NOT a joke lawsuit.

Yes it was, but she hit the lottery anyway, which is why ridiculous suits like this are filed.

Hot coffee is hot. If you spill it on you, it will burn you. Film at 11.
   37. bfan Posted: January 16, 2014 at 05:48 PM (#4640609)
Yes it was, but she hit the lottery anyway, which is why ridiculous suits like this are filed.

Hot coffee is hot. If you spill it on you, it will burn you. Film at 11.


And anyone who is surprised at this result should be screened for mandatory limitations on child-bearing, not rewarded in the tort system.
   38. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4640610)
People laugh about it, but if you knew the facts, you'd know that it was NOT a joke lawsuit.

Hell yeah it was.

Yes it was, but she hit the lottery anyway, which is why ridiculous suits like this are filed.


She lost virtually all of the jury award on appeal and in the end ended up settling with McDonald's. I'm betting her lawyer fee's were staggering on this one and after them, taxes, and the actual medical bills I doubt she got much more than pocket change.
   39. zonk Posted: January 16, 2014 at 05:52 PM (#4640611)
I think 33 and 34/45 are both good points --

The McDonalds coffee suit was a pretty good example. For all his faults, the case that made John Edwards rich was another -- via a news report, it would have sounded like a frivolous suit (kid playing in pool near the filter, monkeys with the filter, gets hurt, sues for mega millions); but the reality was that kid was doing what a zillion other kids do in a pool and the filter in question literally sucks her guts out and left essentially lugging around a colostomy bag for life, with documents showing the company in question made a conscious decision to skip a cheap little plastic part to save a few bucks on production. That said - a 14 yo isn't a big company where someone makes a foolish decision to risk liability to pad the bottom line. Beyond the kid's idea of a celebration meaning he takes his bat pinata style to coaches, hard to see how the kid could be liable.

As far as 33, there are avenues for holding the attorney to account -- bar associations field do field complaints like this and its not unheard of to incur penalties ranging from admonishment to disbarment.... thing is, most attorneys are smart enough not to make stuff like this a pattern so when the odd complaint does surface, they can justify the suit.
   40. AT-AT at bat@AT&T Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:00 PM (#4640616)
Things I really want to know about this :

1. How did the winning run come to be ? A homer, a walk-off walk, 3 errors ...
2. How did the helmet cut the tendon ? Full cut ? Phantom cam footage please !
3. How is throwing a helmet not a part of baseball ? No testo-feelings allowed ?
4. Is the coach overweight, unshaven and smells of whiskey ?
5. Will Grant Balfour show some heart and pay the bills ?

Over and Out !
   41. Nasty Nate Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:01 PM (#4640617)
Hot coffee is hot. If you spill it on you, it will burn you. Film at 11.


I spill my coffee on my hands/fingers all the time, and have never gotten burned.
   42. Fridas Boss Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:04 PM (#4640619)
deleted
   43. winnipegwhip Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:05 PM (#4640620)
The lawyer is also suing Kendry Morales for $3 million when his excessive celebration hurt Kendry Morales.
   44. Fridas Boss Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:05 PM (#4640621)
   45. winnipegwhip Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4640623)
Next we will see a coach suing a kid and ATEC because the BP liner he hit back through the middle and the coach was injured. The kid hit the ball and ATEC didn't make the L-screen big enough.
   46. zonk Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:10 PM (#4640624)
Yes it was, but she hit the lottery anyway, which is why ridiculous suits like this are filed.

Hot coffee is hot. If you spill it on you, it will burn you. Film at 11.


It wasn't quite that simple, though --

She didn't just "burn herself" -- she suffered 3rd degree burns that required 8 days of hospitalization and skin grafts. She initially filed - and the attorney sought - solely the cost of treatment... $20,000. McDonalds balked multiple times... and offered $800. the woman hired a hirer power attorney... more settlements were proposed. A mediator was brought in... the mediator suggested both parties accept another (yes, higher at that point) settlement. McDonalds balked at that.

There were many, many ample opportunities for McDonalds to settle the case at far, far lower levels -- they made their own bed. The jury award was reduced by the judge -- but when you get down to it:

A 79 year-old woman just trying to remove the lid from her coffee cup had the cup fall apart and incurred significant medical costs resulting. I don't think its unreasonable to expect that handling a hot beverage shouldn't - no matter what - result in injuries that require skin grafts. McDonalds had every opportunity to dispose of the claim at the reasonable price of simply covering the woman's 5 figure medical bills. They rolled the dice and they lost.

It should also be noted also --

1) At trial, it came out that McDonalds had received nearly a thousand similar complaints, with total settlements at levels commensurate with the original claim ($20k).

2) Prior to the verdict, McDonalds actually DID lower the temperature on its coffee from 180 degrees to 140 degrees (the temperature other chains had already mandated to franchises).

The bottom line is that large companies employ all sorts of measures to drive efficiency... in an organization the size of McDonalds, no stone is left unturned to save a few pennies. The company made a conscious decision to forgo industry standards, tried to low ball a woman with legitimate injuries, and they paid the price.

...If the woman had sued a little kid running a hot coffee stand on teh sidewalk, I'd agree it was frivolous... In this case, for a company where bun placement, lettuce slicing technique, and everything under the sun is optimized to holy high hell... AND they had the opportunity to deal with the matter for no more than the price of medical treatment.... AND the trial showed that McDonalds - as evidenced by a large number of claims and previous settlements wholly at a level the woman had originally sought?

Not frivolous....
   47. Shibal Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:12 PM (#4640626)
I'm guessing the kid was rounding third, heading for home and whipped his batting helmet like he was skipping rocks on a lake. Coach was in the way, tried to leap over said batting helmet. A fat coach who is 40 years old should not make sudden movements involving jumping. He did, tearing his Achilles in the process.

Lawsuit commences.
   48. EddieA Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:20 PM (#4640629)
47 is exactly my visualization.
   49. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:43 PM (#4640633)
The video in the originating article shows a newscaster recreating what happened. Claimed the kid scored from second on a single, and threw his helmet in the air as he approached home plate. Newscaster lobbed it straight up like papi would.

Not a surprise that this suit is filed by a chiropractor. http://www.chirobase.org/


   50. PreservedFish Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:43 PM (#4640634)
Zonk, stop it.
   51. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:52 PM (#4640638)
Over here in Aus. they have limits on damages caused by accidents. For instance a torn achilles might be only $50,000 plus lost wages, so the max you could sue for in this case is $150,000.
I've coached heaps of my kids sporting teams and been hit with plenty of baseballs, soccer balls, cricket balls and basketballs. Had players crash into me etc and come off worse for wear. But could never imagine suing one of my own players for something accidental.

Since he volunteered to coach, wouldn't that undermine this whole thing anyway as didn't have to be there in the first place? He chose to be there and to accept the subsequent risks that are inherent in being around a baseball diamond?

This guy sounds like a real pr*ck.
   52. Dave Spiwak Posted: January 16, 2014 at 06:57 PM (#4640640)
It seems to me that one of the following two things should be true...

The league would have an insurance policy to cover this, especially for a coach.

OR

Coaches are required to have medical insurance before being allowed on the field or in the dugout. (Insurance which would cover his injury and make this suit unnecessary.)
   53. Red Menace Posted: January 16, 2014 at 07:04 PM (#4640643)
And AMC has their pilot script for Better Call Saul...

Also I agree that the McDonald's coffee suit had merits. I still can't forget those photos...
   54. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 16, 2014 at 07:06 PM (#4640644)
More on the topic of the story of the 14 year old being sued.

This adds a little more to the original story.
   55. zonk Posted: January 16, 2014 at 07:07 PM (#4640645)
Zonk, stop it.


Stop what, refusing to carry water for corporations that already enjoy power far outsized from the original intent of the idea of a corporation?

The next time I hear a 'tort reform' effort that actually, truly wants to address 'frivolous lawsuits' -- it will be the first.

You want to cap damages against individuals? Fine - though good luck getting that to pass constitutional muster.

The fact is - it's actually rather hard to get a tort to go anywhere... as TFA states here, it's highly unlikely a court will do anything other than this thing out - as well it (probably) should.

I have yet to see a tort reform effort or movement that seeks to do ANYTHING other than limit damages... Why? Cost certainty. Once you give a company cost certainty -- limit damages in some way -- that's the day a company literally will start saying we can eliminate a half cent piece of plastic from product X -- some hundred people additional will get maimed or some such, but now that we know our damages would be limited to X dollars per claim, we can do the simple math to lower production costs, just pay the (now limited) X claims at a known cost and voila.

The big dollar awards - and the lack of limits on types of damages - serve a valuable purpose... it forces a company to consider practices in the realm of 'better safe than sorry' when it comes to a product.

Show me a single tort reform effort that actually seeks to punish or eliminate truly silly claims and I'll sign-up... until then, it's nothing but a Chamber of Commerce funded effort to drive cost certainty and move the line for known bad -- or even just questionable -- acts.
   56. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 16, 2014 at 07:12 PM (#4640646)
"stop it" is a very compelling argument.
   57. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 16, 2014 at 07:22 PM (#4640649)
The league would have an insurance policy to cover this, especially for a coach.

OR

Coaches are required to have medical insurance before being allowed on the field or in the dugout. (Insurance which would cover his injury and make this suit unnecessary.)


Though I get this, I find this to be an awful side effect of modern society. That everyone needs to think about the possibility of some random accident because some arsehole my decide to sue in the case of one of these events occurring. Doesn't this guy have his own medical insurance? Wouldn't that cover and unfortunate incident?
We've got that socialised medicine thing going on over here. If something like this occurred, the coach would just go to the hospital and be treated...simple as that. That's what we all pay our taxes for.
   58. Bhaakon Posted: January 16, 2014 at 07:23 PM (#4640650)
The bottom line is that large companies employ all sorts of measures to drive efficiency... in an organization the size of McDonalds, no stone is left unturned to save a few pennies. The company made a conscious decision to forgo industry standards, tried to low ball a woman with legitimate injuries, and they paid the price.


Except that keeping coffee hotter than other chains is not an example of pinching pennies, it's an example of spending a few more cents to meet consumer demands. People want hot coffee because they equate heat with freshness. Fresh coffee is brewed at 195 degrees and above, so Starbucks and similar establishments that serve fresh coffee are, by necessity, handing over cups of 180 degree plus liquid with regularity.

So while the fast food "cover your ass from litigation" temperature is a 140, that doesn't mean that 3rd-degree-causing temperatures should be or are beyond a consumer's expectation when purchasing coffee.

Now if the coffee had disintegrated the chincy take out cup, then I'd be more inclined to accept her case.
   59. PreservedFish Posted: January 16, 2014 at 07:24 PM (#4640651)
...If the woman had sued a little kid running a hot coffee stand on teh sidewalk, I'd agree it was frivolous... In this case, for a company where bun placement, lettuce slicing technique, and everything under the sun is optimized to holy high hell... AND they had the opportunity to deal with the matter for no more than the price of medical treatment.... AND the trial showed that McDonalds - as evidenced by a large number of claims and previous settlements wholly at a level the woman had originally sought?


The bit I italicized above is the only thing you have written that addresses the frivolity, or lack thereof, of the hot coffee lawsuit.

That McDonald's is a big mean company, that it could have solved the problem easily, that it is very efficient, that the burns were really really bad burns, that the specter of unlimited damages plays a positive role in the marketplace ... ok, you've made me feel a little bit better about the whole thing. But it's still a ridiculous lawsuit.
   60. Jick Posted: January 16, 2014 at 07:27 PM (#4640652)
Except that keeping coffee hotter than other chains is not an example of pinching pennies, it's an example of spending a few more cents to meet consumer demands.


From what I remember (I could be wrong) from the last time this came up, the higher temperature was so customers would be less likely to finish their cups in time to request a refill.
   61. thetailor Posted: January 16, 2014 at 07:27 PM (#4640653)
Yeah, so, like I said in #34 --- there might be merit to this case. It's hard to believe that any person would be so irrational and that any attorney would sign his name to something completely frivolous while knowing the consequences.

Is it likely that there is any merit? No. But ... sometimes you're surprised (see: McDonalds Coffee)
   62. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 16, 2014 at 07:30 PM (#4640654)
Beck claims he told his lawyer to seek $20K not $500k

Mt take is that unless that kid threw his helmet with a hell of a lot of force directly at the back of the guy's ankle, there is no way in hell a tossed batting helmet will "sever" an Achilles tendon.
   63. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 16, 2014 at 07:31 PM (#4640656)
Beck said in an interview Wednesday on HLN that after the winning run scored from third base, he felt "something extremely large" hit his leg, sending him into shock. He said he looked up and saw the Parises' son, who he said had been on second base, with a stunned look on his face.
   64. Kurt Posted: January 16, 2014 at 08:30 PM (#4640677)
If this thread doesn't bring David Nieporent back, I guess he's gone forever.
   65. bigglou115 Posted: January 16, 2014 at 08:37 PM (#4640679)
That McDonald's is a big mean company, that it could have solved the problem easily, that it is very efficient, that the burns were really really bad burns, that the specter of unlimited damages plays a positive role in the marketplace ... ok, you've made me feel a little bit better about the whole thing. But it's still a ridiculous lawsuit.


Eh, the court ruling summed it up pretty good. A label saying, "warning contents are hot" in no way prepares you for the concept that the coffee you are buying is 3rd degree burns hot. You spill coffee from almost anywhere else on you and it hurts, this was significantly hotter than that and there was no reason for the woman to suspect as much. If any of you bought coffee from a fast food restaurant and thought, "this coffee could land me in the hospital," I'd guess your either paranoid or lying. A reasonable person expects to get an "ouchie" from spilling coffee on themselves, no more. Bringing the suit was justified, McDonalds refusing to settle was silly.

The original amount covering the doc bills and a little bit extra makes a lot of sense, everything beyond that is on McDonalds because they could have easily taken that, and the large amounts make sense because a jury feels like its job is to teach corporations a lesson. $20k teaches McDonalds nothing, so they awarded a ton.

edit: My point wasn't that the whole thing was just, just that a reasonable suit was brought and that random circumstances made things spiral. Its a 1 in 1,000,000 thing, and pretending that this kind of case is representative of the legal system is disingenuous.
   66. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 16, 2014 at 08:38 PM (#4640680)
. . . there is no way in hell a tossed batting helmet will "sever" an Achilles tendon.

The "thread-like Achilles tendon" is the new "egg shell skull".
   67. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 16, 2014 at 08:42 PM (#4640681)
A friend of mine stopped to get a cup of coffee on his way home from a night out. He put the coffee in his lap (this is pre-cup holder days) and you can guess what happened. He was laid up for 6 weeks. 30 years later I still cringe.
   68. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 16, 2014 at 08:45 PM (#4640682)
From what I remember (I could be wrong) from the last time this came up, the higher temperature was so customers would be less likely to finish their cups in time to request a refill.

I thought it was because most people do carry out, and they want it to still be hot when they get where they're going?
   69. Jick Posted: January 16, 2014 at 08:54 PM (#4640686)
68 - That makes plenty of sense, of course. I intended to respond mainly to the question of penny-pinching, which needn't have been the primary motive but could still have been relevant.

Edit - See post #428 in McCoy's link below.
   70. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:01 PM (#4640693)
First off the cup from McDonalds didn't fall apart. A little old lady was sitting in the passenger seat of a car. She bought a coffee and they supposedly pulled into a parking spot for her to play with her coffee. She put the coffee between her legs so that she could take the top off and put her fixings inside of it. She spilled the coffee all over herself. The problem is that she was wearing sweats and that she was old. The sweats acted as insulator that kept the temperature hot and sitting next to her skin and because she was old she brittle thin skin thus causing the severe burns. McDonalds coffee isn't and wasn't inherently dangerous. She basically had to do something stupid and dangerous while also being the right age and wearing the right material to cause the severe burns. She wanted McDonalds to pay for her stupid decisions. Plain and simple.

As for all the numerous complaints McDonalds received you have to remember that McDonalds sells something like 1 billion cups of coffee a year. The amount of complaints they received is insanely small when compared to that.

We've had this conversation before and I'll start digging through my quotes

As Sheehan once said people are economically illiterate b*tches. But I guess in this case people are statistically illiterate b*tches. One out of every 14 million cups of coffee or so result in an injury of some kind happening in some manner. I think it is quite clear that the judge and jury, based on their statements, could not wrap their mind around that figure. If they could then they could have understood that Liebeck's injuries, while tragic, were not in any way, shape, or form a likely outcome of purchasing McDonalds' coffee nor could any reasonable person expect to suffer such a gruesome fate by purchasing and handling McDonalds' coffee. For all inn tents and porpoises McDonalds' coffee is extremely safe. According to the odds buying McDonalds' cofee is just about the safest thing one can do in a day
   71. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:03 PM (#4640694)
I believe this is the first page of a very long and detailed discussion on McDonalds that we had almost 3 years ago.
   72. PreservedFish Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:08 PM (#4640696)
#71, please summarize, who won the argument?
   73. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:12 PM (#4640699)
The only evidence that McDonald's served hotter coffee than everybody else comes from the plaintiff's investigation of the local area. I'm not sure why that is considered gospel around here and yet studies that have a sample size of tens of thousands get questioned all the time. McDonald's is not alone in serving hot coffee. Pretty much every single major coffee chain in America serves and holds coffee at 180+ degrees. I have no idea where the plaintiffs stuff their thermometers but considering it was in their interest to find low holding temps I'm not surprised they found some.

I would like to also point out that nobody has stated what the temperature of the coffee actually was when she burned herself. They said that McD's guidelines is that the coffee must be held at 185 degree +/- 5 degrees. Which means that in all probability the coffee is in the 170's by the time you get it in your car. But we don't even know if it was that hot. Nowhere do we find what the temperature of the coffee was before the lawsuit. We are told that that coffee at that McDonalds was 158 degrees after the settlement. So isn't it possibly that what she got was right in line with what "some other establishments" were serving?

Well, it appears the only evidence admitted into court on temps was from the plaintiff. I would also like point out that the plaintiff's own evidence found that McDonalds was not alone in serving "hot" coffee. I would also like to point out that so far no ones evidence has actually shown that the coffee this woman spilled on herself was 180 degrees or more. The plaintiff's own expert testified that what happened to her could have happened at 160 degrees or even at 130 degrees just like McDonalds said. The only thing we do know is that the day after the trial McDonalds' coffee at the place where this happened was at 158 degrees.

   74. Zach Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:16 PM (#4640701)
140 degrees is too cold for coffee. My office has an electric teakettle that lets you set your own brew temperature. You're supposed to brew white tea at 160 degrees, but it's just not hot enough to warm you up. I keep dialing the temperature up to ... 190 degrees. And, of course, everybody that uses a stovetop kettle is brewing at or near 212.
   75. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:17 PM (#4640702)
There was also a study done in 1996-1997 by a U of Wash professor for his hospitality law class. His students ordered coffee from various drive-thrus in their community, in total they got 208 readings. The average reading was 167.1. McDonalds accounts for a third of the readings and their coffee by the time it got to the consumer had a temperature of 165 degrees which means that everybody elses coffee had an average temp of 169.4 degrees. Burger King, Wendy's, and Jack in the Box (McD's main national corp competition in the area) had average readings of 173 degrees. In fact Wendy's served the hottest coffee in the bunch with an average temperature of 177 degrees. 28% of the coffee was served at temperatures above 180 degrees.

Even if we argue that McDonalds did in fact turn down the heat after the lawsuit it looks like at the very least that when this accident happened it was a standard to serve "hot" coffee.
   76. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:20 PM (#4640703)
Way to go, Zonk.

We had vigorous discussion (ahem) about that McDonald's case a couple of years ago. It lasted a couple of weeks, I think. And it turned out that those taking McDonald's side (Nieporent and Ray, to name two) didn't even know what law this was litigated under, pretty much the same as those bloviating here, I bet. Cases are decided in controversy on specific facts according to fixed law, and not just left to the peanut gallery substituting its sterling state of the art sense of what should be right or wrong.

EDIT: See link at 71.
   77. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:34 PM (#4640708)
#71, please summarize, who won the argument?

funny. But basically what it came down to is that the case history supported the view that it was a frivolous lawsuit but that in the state where the burn occurred the courts went kind of crazy as compared to everyone else.
   78. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:35 PM (#4640709)
And now I see Morty is sticking to the same story he stuck to back then where he basically had no argument other than "I don't know and neither do you".
   79. Depressoteric Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:36 PM (#4640710)
a non-attorney with a strong tendency to foolishly think I could sit for the bar tomorrow and pass it.
Not a chance. Not one in hell.

HOWEVER...zonk is more correct than not about the McDonald's "hot coffee" lawsuit. It was one of those tort cases that I too laughed at and thought of as a frivolous claim until I read up on the details. His account of it is reasonably accurate as far as I can remember. McDonald's was in the wrong. The woman had a solid claim, even if she shouldn't have put the coffee between her legs. If McD's didn't like the initial jury award (which was too high, to be fair) then they should've settled with proper compensation long before it got to that point, as they had the moral (and, as it turns out, legal) obligation to do.
   80. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:41 PM (#4640714)
It was one of those tort cases that I too laughed at and thought of as a frivolous claim until I read up on the details. His account of it is reasonably accurate as far as I can remember. McDonald's was in the wrong. The woman had a solid claim, even if she shouldn't have put the coffee between her legs. If McD's didn't like the initial jury award (which was too high, to be fair) then they should've settled with proper compensation long before it got to that point, as they had the moral (and, as it turns out, legal) obligation to do.
This is my impression from both reading about it and watching the HBO documentary on the trial. What I still don't understand is why McDonald's elected to go through mediation, then totally rejected the mediator's offer. It would have saved them a few pennies and a ton of bad press.
   81. DaricBartonFink Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:42 PM (#4640715)
About the McDonald's coffee lawsuit, my civil procedure professor in law school spent the better part of a class period talking to us about it. He convinced me that it was a very meritorious lawsuit. Allegedly, during discovery, it came out that McDonald's knew their coffee was too hot, and was fine risking such a high temperature, even though they knew a certain amount of the population would get severely burned. Their research showed they could sell more coffee by making it super hot since that's what customers wanted, and that the extra profits could offset any damages/settlements from lawsuits. It was that McDonald's purposefully made it too hot, and knew the extra heat was unnecessarily dangerous.
   82. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:44 PM (#4640717)
I see, McCoy, that you haven't taken the opportunity to educate yourself during the intervening years. Y'all didn't #### then, you don't defer to those that did, and you are sticking by your story that suffices. Apparently nothing has changed.
   83. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:47 PM (#4640719)
In the link is links to a lot of the studies and those studies show that McDonalds was not unique in serving coffee at that temp. Being in the industry I also know that McDonalds temps are not unique. I'll also point out once again that up until this coffee case happened in New Mexico that the defendant almost always if not always got a summary judgement in their favor. The case law favors the defendant in these cases and not the plaintiff. That is why McDonalds fought it. The law for a long time was on their side.
   84. zonk Posted: January 16, 2014 at 09:53 PM (#4640720)
Let's say just for a moment that the suit was frivolous... the stupid woman got what she had coming and McDonalds was wholly justified in telling her to F off....

But since the point was raised about proportions, statistical illiteracy, etc....

McDonalds operating income in 2010 (the oldest year I could) was $7,500,000,000. Near as I can tell, EBITA of around $4,900,000,000. The final award -- $600,000 -- was 0.01% of the end-of-the-day, off the top profit (as reported... let's not forget one can play all kinds of games upstream). Obviously, since the case was such a big deal -- it's not like McDonalds is paying out these awards left and right. These cases make the news because they ARE outliers.

No - I'm not saying just because they have an absolute #### ton of loot, they ought to just pay out to anyone that asks. I'm saying that they don't - and on the extraordinarily rare occasion where they do, we're talking about an amount (in this case) that was one, one hundredth of one percent of their profit.

Maybe it was an 'injustice' they had to pay this equivalent of change in a change in a couch cushion to this woman, maybe it wasn't and maybe it was somewhere in between.

But -- why precisely is that people get so upset that a 79 year-old woman who got 3rd degree burns and skin grafts took a tiny fraction -- 1/100th a single percent -- off the top of McDonald's profits?

Are you REALLY that jealous that a jealous that some 79 year-old woman you've never met, will never meet, and who has zero impact on your life got a payday, whether deserved or not, that ensures she'll never work again and probably leave a tidy little sum to her heirs?

This would be the equivalent of someone stealing roughly a single PENNY out of the annual sum total of paychecks of everyone reading this -- probably less than that for most, no more than maybe a couple pennies for the wealthiest reading this.

And THIS is a grave injustice so enormously in need of reform?

I think I could list 100,000,000,000 greater injustices in this world than McDonalds losing a penny.
   85. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 10:03 PM (#4640723)
People don't like other people to get rewarded for doing something stupid.

Nobody is revolting because of this decision. People are expressing an opinion. Let's keep this in perspective.
   86. Random Transaction Generator Posted: January 16, 2014 at 10:05 PM (#4640725)
McDonald's knew their coffee was too hot, and was fine risking such a high temperature, even though they knew a certain amount of the population would get severely burned. Their research showed they could sell more coffee by making it super hot since that's what customers wanted, and that the extra profits could offset any damages/settlements from lawsuits. It was that McDonald's purposefully made it too hot, and knew the extra heat was unnecessarily dangerous.


Narrator: A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.
Business woman on plane: Are there a lot of these kinds of accidents?
Narrator: You wouldn't believe.
Business woman on plane: Which car company do you work for?
Narrator: A major one.
   87. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2014 at 10:08 PM (#4640727)
83:

That is immaterial. Literally. A case is decided at trial by a jury according to the evidence and the law given them. Studies of this and that not presented are as if they did not exist.
   88. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 10:11 PM (#4640729)
The coffee trial jury decision was vacated by the way.

And I see once again you wish to live in the world of who gives a shvt.
   89. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2014 at 10:14 PM (#4640730)
86:

The Pinto case: guess how much that jury wanted to award the legal survivors of a couple of people who were incinerated as a result of a rear-end collision?

There's always the tacit "do-wrong" rule that juries (and judges) will consider. Don't commit an obviously outrageous wrong, and then stand on the technicality of the law. If you do, you're taking a big gamble. You're asking for a ##### slap.
   90. zonk Posted: January 16, 2014 at 10:15 PM (#4640731)
People don't like other people to get rewarded for doing something stupid.

Nobody is revolting because of this decision. People are expressing an opinion. Let's keep this in perspective.


But she didn't even do something stupid!

I've spilled coffee on myself in a car - I dare say everyone that drinks coffee regularly and drives/rides in a car has done so. I've done it out of clumsiness -- and I've also done it because a lid was improperly attached. Never has anything worse than a ruined pair of pants happened to me.

Why not get outraged that McDonalds did't agree to just fork over 1/1000th (the original 20k claim) because hey, even if it was just a wee bit their fault, they can easily afford it without it having any impact on their bottom line whatsoever.... paying the original claim -- hell, paying the final awarded claim actually wouldn't even rise to the level of changing the numbers on their annual report!
   91. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2014 at 10:17 PM (#4640732)
88:

You got a study you can pull out your ass on that?
   92. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 10:32 PM (#4640739)
Why not get outraged that McDonalds did't agree to just fork over 1/1000th (the original 20k claim) because hey, even if it was just a wee bit their fault, they can easily afford it without it having any impact on their bottom line whatsoever.... paying the original claim -- hell, paying the final awarded claim actually wouldn't even rise to the level of changing the numbers on their annual report!

For starters I'm not outraged but secondly it isn't my money. Your opinion seems to be that because they make money they should just hand it out to whomever wants it. The case law was solidly on McDonalds side on this. The vast majority of coffee cases are ended up summary judgement to the defendant. The prevailing view at the time was that if you buy a hot cup of coffee you are aware of the risks and you assume those risks by buying the cup of coffee.

   93. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 10:47 PM (#4640744)
The average consumer understands that coffee is hot, and that it will cause burns if it comes into contact with skin. The danger of burns remains apparent, even if the degree of injury is more serious than contemplated. Because the temperature of the coffee plaintiffs purchased was no hotter than is typically served in restaurants,FN4 the Court holds that defendants did not have a duty to warn plaintiffs that the coffee could cause severe burns if spilled.

Holowaty v. McDonald's Corp. 10 F.Supp.2d 1078, 1085 (D.Minn.,1998)
   94. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 16, 2014 at 11:07 PM (#4640751)
But she didn't even do something stupid!

I've spilled coffee on myself in a car - I dare say everyone that drinks coffee regularly and drives/rides in a car has done so. I've done it out of clumsiness -- and I've also done it because a lid was improperly attached. Never has anything worse than a ruined pair of pants happened to me.


Drinking hot coffee while driving a car is stupid. If you spill it on yourself you could be distracted enough to cause a crash and kill someone. I would say drinking or eating anything besides water (there's much less distraction when one spills water b/c it doesn't make a mess) while driving is stupid, and should be illegal.

Putting a hot cup of coffee between your legs is insanely stupid. Stop for 5 freaking seconds to put the milk and sugar in.
   95. Morty Causa Posted: January 16, 2014 at 11:13 PM (#4640755)
How do you feel about the 55mph speed limit?

EDIT: Oh, and the plaintiff in the McDonald's case wasn't driving the car. And the driver did stop and pull over so she could add cream and sugar.
   96. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 16, 2014 at 11:22 PM (#4640757)
You mean the speed tax?
   97. Spahn Insane Posted: January 16, 2014 at 11:25 PM (#4640758)
Allegedly, during discovery, it came out that McDonald's knew their coffee was too hot, and was fine risking such a high temperature, even though they knew a certain amount of the population would get severely burned. Their research showed they could sell more coffee by making it super hot since that's what customers wanted, and that the extra profits could offset any damages/settlements from lawsuits. It was that McDonald's purposefully made it too hot, and knew the extra heat was unnecessarily dangerous.

Yes--this. And the jury award was supposedly McDonald's profits from the sale of coffee for one day.

I am completely convinced that was a meritorious lawsuit, notwithstanding the tittering of the masses.
   98. Spahn Insane Posted: January 16, 2014 at 11:30 PM (#4640762)
If this thread doesn't bring David Nieporent back, I guess he's gone forever.

Seriously, where the hell'd he go?
   99. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 11:33 PM (#4640764)
Drinking hot coffee while driving a car is stupid. If you spill it on yourself you could be distracted enough to cause a crash and kill someone. I would say drinking or eating anything besides water (there's much less distraction when one spills water b/c it doesn't make a mess) while driving is stupid, and should be illegal.

Putting a hot cup of coffee between your legs is insanely stupid. Stop for 5 freaking seconds to put the milk and sugar in.


She was the passenger and supposedly the car was pulled over when she spilled it on herself.
   100. McCoy Posted: January 16, 2014 at 11:33 PM (#4640765)
Yes--this

Except it wasn't and still isn't true.
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