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(Rochester D&C)   Judges orders former teacher to pay $270,000 for filing multiple frivolous lawsuits. Personal responsibility: 1, Dumbass: 0   (democratandchronicle.com) divider line 76
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14534 clicks; posted to Main » on 14 Mar 2006 at 10:47 AM (9 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2006-03-14 09:22:50 AM  
Activists and the media would like you to think that sanctions against parties and attorneys for misconduct are uncommon.
 
2006-03-14 10:51:28 AM  
kronicfield

I don't care. I love to read this and yes I wish they would post it more. Give me 5 minutes in a room with Ayala and a sack of boiled potatoes.
 
2006-03-14 10:51:50 AM  
Common or not, it's good to hear about them. Especially for the d-bags who would file stupid lawsuits.
 
2006-03-14 10:52:19 AM  
Yes but when will a judge do this to a corporation. They are the biggest offenders in this area.
 
2006-03-14 10:53:05 AM  
I believe judges can strike down lawsuits early in the proceedings. why that doesn't happen more is beyond me
 
2006-03-14 10:54:49 AM  
I believe judges can strike down lawsuits early in the proceedings. why that doesn't happen more is beyond me

Because judges usually cannot decide issues of fact early in proceedings. They don't have the facts. They don't havethe evidence. They are not omniscient. If it cannot be dismissed as a matter of law, it's not going to be dismissed.
 
2006-03-14 10:57:15 AM  
SretiCentV: I believe judges can strike down lawsuits early in the proceedings. why that doesn't happen more is beyond me

It does. But like kronicfeld said, it just doesn't get the airtime that the initial filing seems to get.

PSA: "The TRUE Stella Awards"(pops) has some great write-ups of some of the more inane suits.
 
2006-03-14 10:57:47 AM  
Cue the attention whore picture.
 
2006-03-14 10:58:53 AM  
Man that guy was a teacher? I really don't want my kids in public schools with some of the crazy SOBs they have teaching those classes.

On another note, $270,000/10 years means that stupidity officially costs $27,000/yr. Good to know.
 
2006-03-14 11:07:19 AM  
Now do the same to Fred Phelps and the Church of Scientology
 
2006-03-14 11:07:22 AM  
When are they going to do this to Fred Phelps?
 
2006-03-14 11:08:36 AM  
And I'm beat to the punch by 3 seconds! Kudos, 1820lincoln. =)
 
2006-03-14 11:09:40 AM  
Why wasn't the case dismissed??? This is a scary precedent to set...unless some attorneys in here could tell me its already a common occurance? What was the districts actions in all of this? For example, if he has asthma and is assigned to teach in the wood shop, shouldn't he be allowed to wear coveralls and a respirator? Why would the district (and judge) present this as a HAZMAT suit?
 
2006-03-14 11:12:25 AM  
it happens more often than you think, striking down lawsuits, my grandma was burned during surgery and the first trial was thrown out at the end of it. i think its a cliche to think there are too many firvolous lawsuits and also a cliche to think all 'good' lawsuits avoid being thrown out merely on 'its face' which is the english translation of the latin phrase.
 
2006-03-14 11:12:59 AM  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald%27s_Corp.

Just FYI, the "Stella Awards" are about a woman who had third degree burns on her body. She sued McDonalds and was awarded what they make in one hour off of coffee.

If anyone says the word "Stella" awards without acknowledging the fact that a woman was hurt very badly and sued a megacorporation who didn't even feel a dent from said lawsuit deserves to be cock punched.
 
2006-03-14 11:16:53 AM  
ryandee

who peed in your coffee?
 
2006-03-14 11:18:42 AM  
How many "judges" were there?
 
2006-03-14 11:19:42 AM  
ryandee

IIRC, two days, not one hour.
 
2006-03-14 11:20:01 AM  
ryandee

You know, it helps to have an *article* at the end of the link when you use it as a refrence.
 
2006-03-14 11:23:54 AM  
Buh-buh-buh-buh-but I thought that judges were EEEEVIL!

What will I be told to tihnk now?
 
2006-03-14 11:25:35 AM  
ryandee

Better get to cockpunching then...

From your Wiki article:

•The person driving the vehicle was Liebeck's grandson Chris (not Stella Liebeck as some sources would indicate), who had parked the car so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee.

She placed the coffee cup between her knees and attempted to remove the lid. In the process, she spilled the entire cup of coffee on her lap.

•Liebeck was wearing cotton sweatpants; they absorbed the coffee and held it against her skin as she sat in the puddle of hot liquid for over ninety seconds.

Like they say, there's no cure for stupid.

Anyone that can't see a problem holding a hot cup of coffee between their knees while removing the lid is the real person needing a cockpunch.
 
2006-03-14 11:28:30 AM  
 
2006-03-14 11:33:50 AM  
This asshat needs a massive UFIA and then about a six month stay in the gay rapist section of the local PMITAP and a warning not to waste taxpayers money or time. People wonder why schools are in such bad shape.

/mother is a teacher for the 'tards of the school district
//them's some fudged up kids
///like raping a girl burning her house down after killing daddy to cover up the crime fudged up
 
2006-03-14 11:34:06 AM  
Anyone that can't see a problem holding a hot cup of coffee between their knees while removing the lid is the real person needing a cockpunch.

Which is why the jury found that she was partly responsible.
 
2006-03-14 11:34:35 AM  
Bradbrening -- thanks for saying what I wanted to say. Yes Stella was burned but she was increadibly stupid. McDonalds had to pay out because this adult woman was too stupid to know that you don't put hot coffee between your thighs!
 
2006-03-14 11:35:14 AM  
BradBrening

The part you missed is that the coffee was so hot that it actually melted the rayon in her sweatpants onto her skin. Exactly how hot does coffee need to be? She didn't just get burned from hot coffee...she needed multiple surgerys due to the damage done. She lost her job and became disabled (might have been temporary)...

How hot does coffee need to be again??
 
2006-03-14 11:38:20 AM  
did that when i was about 7 or 8, for my mom, who i actually begged to let me hold it for her. i had a quick surgery afterwards, honestly don't remember what it did to me. we didn't sue, and i've never held a beverage in between my legs again, especially a hot one
 
2006-03-14 11:38:45 AM  
BradBrening:
If McD's served its coffee at normal temps, she would not have been injured. The punitive damage award was the result of multiple injuries to others under similar circumstances, and the jury told McD's enough is enough with one award. There is a cure for stupid, so go do some reading.

That said, I'm happy to say (as a lawyer) that I just got a sanctions award against a former football coach who sued the entire school district AND parents after he was canned for all kinds of bad behavior --allegedly ;- )

The actual case where I got sanctions for similar BS (scroll to end -- sorry, popless)
Our demand of $27,000 is pending.
 
2006-03-14 11:40:35 AM  
ryandee

Just FYI, the "Stella Awards" are about a woman who had third degree burns on her body. She sued McDonalds and was awarded what they make in one hour off of coffee.


While I agree that the "McDonalds hot coffee" case is not the best example to use when advocating tort reform, I have no sympathy for someone who tries to hold a known-to-be-very-hot beverage while sitting inside a car. Doing anything other than driving while inside a car should be "at your own risk".
 
2006-03-14 11:43:47 AM  
This asshat needs a massive UFIA and then about a six month stay in the gay rapist section of the local PMITAP and a warning not to waste taxpayers money or time. People wonder why schools are in such bad shape.

Are the rest of you reading a differet article? Most of THIS article is vague. For the one specific example that is given, the teacher has a reasonable explanation of what really happened -- it wasn't a hazmat suit, it was overall and a respirator. Plus, I'm not even sure what that has to do with anything -- it's not an example of one of his frivolous lawsuits, which is what the article is purportedly about.

The article/judge may very well be right. But I personally prefer more specifics before I start calling for a public flogging.
 
2006-03-14 11:45:04 AM  
stiletto_the_wise

Would it have been better if she had been sitting in the resturaunt and spilled coffe on her arm? Or what if ahe had taken a big drink??? Would it have warrented your sympathy then? The circumstances under which she was burned has zero to do with the temp of the coffee.
 
2006-03-14 11:49:48 AM  
pendy575

Further reading from the Wiki article:

Testimony by witnesses for McDonald's revealed that McDonald's did not intend to reduce the heat of its coffee. However, the National Coffee Association of USA recommends that coffee be brewed at 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit and maintained at a temperature of 180-185 degrees for optimal flavor and drunk immediately. Starbucks, for example, serves its coffee at this temperature, and, indeed, has been subjected to similar lawsuits for coffee spills. Most courts have dismissed these cases against Starbucks. Burger King was recently sued for an identical case of a woman spilling coffee in her lap.

During the case it was discovered that McDonald's required franchises to serve coffee at 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit.


Sounds to me like a) McD's is/was following the recommendation of a food industry association guideline and b) lots of other franchises serve it the same.

Millions of people can get through the "dangerous" task of ordering and consuming a hot coffee - gasp - even while driving. This lady couldn't navigate that minefield while parked in her car. Darwin at work.
 
2006-03-14 11:50:20 AM  
Pendy575

Coffee is SUPPOSED to be served that hot! Stella is a good candidate for non-voluntary euthanasia. And she was old she had know coffee was farking hot for a LONG farking time.

/double UFIA for stella
 
2006-03-14 12:17:26 PM  
And how hot is it supposed to be? Third degree burn hot??? Have you ever seen a third degree burn? Thats when the skin actually melts off...its pretty disgusting. Unfortunately I have seen thrid degree burns...the skin actually runs off...

Don't want to gross you out but I do want to put it into perspective how hot this coffee must have been. It wasn't blister hot (we have all had that happen)...it was thrid degree burn hot...skin sliding off your body hot. Sure the lady was an idiot and played a part in getting burned...but how hot did the coffee need to be? This wasn't the first case either...McDonalds was aware of the safety problem and chose to ignore it.

According to many of you individual responsibility should trump collective responsibility. McDonalds was aware of the problem and wasn't responsible enough to correct it.
 
2006-03-14 12:20:24 PM  
OK. they got the guy who was stupid, but why haven't they gone after the lawyer who was also stupid/greedy enough to take the case in the first place?

We had a resident here who worked for the city and must have had a good lawyer because he sued at the drop of a comment -- and mainly his employer: the City. I did a little lot clearing with a friend for him once and spent two days hauling pine needles and branches to the dump from his new home. We left about 4 cement bricks behind and he badgered my friend -- who worked with him -- about removing those things until we drove back and took them.

The City was pretty happy when he finally retired and so were most of the employees he worked with.

That was years ago. Today, lawyers advertise on TV with a selection of things that you might be able to sue over -- especially medication.

Once I got a notification to join in a class action lawsuit against Dell, because I had a Dell computer which had been sold with a faulty HD. However, after examining the lengthy letter, I realized that if the suit was won, my share of the settlement would come to about $2. The letter went in the garbage.
 
2006-03-14 12:21:40 PM  
Say it with me now everyone: Personal RESPONSIBILITY!
Did McDonalds make you buy the coffee? Did McDonalds make you hold the coffee in your lap? Did McDonalds Spill the coffee in your lap? Did McDonalds do anything other than sell you a product you voluntarily purchased? Same goes for cigarettes and those lame ass truth commercials. Every year cigarettes kill eleventy-billion people. No, every year eleventy-billion people voluntarily smoke enough cigarettes to kill themselves. I smoked cigarettes for over 3 years. Then decided that was enough and quit, cold turkey. I've now been cigarette free for over a year and a half. Just because its addictive doesnt mean it isnt your fault and your responsibility. Now lets say it one more time. I (insert your name) am to blame for my farked up life.
/ personal
// responsibility
 
2006-03-14 12:26:16 PM  
Honest Bender

I would agree with some of what you say...if coffee were meant to be served at temps that can cause 3rd degree burns. What if we find out the (fictional) heart medication you are on causes cancer? Should that be OK? What if you are having heart surgery because you ate too much crap and have a bad heart? Is it OK that the drug causes cancer? What if the company knew anout it and covered it up...that OK too? I mean you were responsible for eating crap and having a bad heart....
 
2006-03-14 12:28:19 PM  
For instance, Larimer stated, Murphy, who is asthmatic, once showed up to school in a hazmat outfit to complain about the air quality in the building.

Murphy said Monday that he was actually wearing district-approved coveralls and a respirator because he was teaching in the woodshop.


Wait...since when do you need overalls and a respirator to teach woodshop? When I was in school, all we were given was eye protection.
 
2006-03-14 12:31:58 PM  
You do NOT mess around in federal court. Hell, I'm scared to file meritorious suits there.

Several years ago, a lawyer here in my area filed suit on an auto accident in federal court. The judge found his suit frivolous and fined him 35 grand. The federal judges have sanctioned other lawyers, too.

It has also happened in state court.

The fact is, most truly frivolous (i.e. no possible merit) cases never get filed because of economic incentives. A personal injury lawyer working on contingency fees will not incur the expense of filing a suit he cannot possibly win, because it's a waste of his time and money. A lawyer getting paid by the hour may be inclined to waste his client's time, but if his client has any sense (most by-the-hour clients are companies or insurers and thus sophisticated legal consumers) the client won't want to waste time on legal positions with no chance of victory for the client. Plus, even if an individual lawyer has an incentive to waste his hourly client's time, competition among lawyers is a strong disincentive to that-- you might get 25 grand today for frivolous legal positions, but you won't get another case from that client.
 
2006-03-14 12:34:15 PM  
pendy

Time to receive a third degree burn:

155F 1 SECOND
148F 2 SECONDS
140F 5 SECONDS
133F 15 SECONDS
127F 1 MINUTE
124F 3 MINUTES
120F 5 MINUTES
100F SAFE TEMPERATURE
(Source, PDF, Pops)

According to the Wiki article:
Liebeck was wearing cotton sweatpants; they absorbed the coffee and held it against her skin as she sat in the puddle of hot liquid for over ninety seconds.

So, the coffee could have been somewhere between 127 and ~130 degrees and the result would be a third degree burn for 90 seconds contact. So, unless your "collective responsibility" means serving lukewarm coffee, Stella was an idiot.
 
2006-03-14 12:43:03 PM  
pendy575

If you're taking medication that is later found to cause cancer, that's the drug company's fault for not sufficiently testing/studying the drug before putting it to market. If you buy a cup of hot coffee and spill it on yourself it's your own stupid ass fault. I don't care if the coffee was brewed on the surface of the sun. McD's didn't make you buy it or make you spill it on yourself.

Now just to make the difference between drugs and coffee more clear, a retarted circus clown could tell you a cup of coffee is hot, but not many people can tell you that obviously some drug with a 30 syllable name causes cancer.
 
2006-03-14 12:47:39 PM  
Umm...no where does it say that the third degree burn occurred after 90 seconds...it says that the coffee was in contact with her skin for 90 seconds. Please explain to me how you know that the burn didn't occur in the 1st second with 89 seconds of contact afterwards?? I can't state for certain that it didn't happen the way you mentioned but I could infer that it is unlikely. The coffee needed to maintain its temp through the sweatpants. If McDonalds were able to prove that they keep their coffee in the range you are suggesting (which they most certainly would have liked to do) there is very little chance they would have been found culpable.
 
2006-03-14 12:49:54 PM  
Honest Bender

McDonalds didn't make her buy the coffee but they most certainly determined the temp of that coffee. Just answer this for me....Why are drug companys required to list side effects now?

Oh and no one is making you buy or take medications....
 
2006-03-14 12:54:02 PM  
ryandee: True, and as anybody who has tried to drink MCd coffee as it is served knows well. Its WAY too hot to drink.
 
2006-03-14 12:58:04 PM  
So, the coffee could have been somewhere between 127 and ~130 degrees and the result would be a third degree burn for 90 seconds contact.

It was somewhere around 180, which exceeds the temperature at which a third degree burn will result in one second.
 
2006-03-14 12:58:59 PM  
pendy575

The temperature of coffee can be safely gauged by just picking it up. If I could pick up drugs and feel that they would cause cancer then I would hold myself and not the drug companies responsible if I developed cancer. So why then should we hold Mcd's responsible for this woman spilling coffee in her lap that she must have known was hot?
 
2006-03-14 01:04:39 PM  
$270K is a pretty big nut to cover, but I doubt that it will make a difference in the silly lawsuits. Nothing will change until Steve Bozell gets hit with a fine like that.
 
2006-03-14 01:08:27 PM  
pendy575

Since she is such an idiot and opened the coffee between her legs, when it spilled it soaked into her pants. Now, unless you can whip your pants off in less than 5 seconds, the coffee could have been as low as 140 degrees and she still would have received a third degree burn.

But no. Not only is she so stupid as to try to remove the lid with the coffee precariously pinched between her knees, she sits there for 90 seconds after it spills (imagine that!) - probably screaming her fool head off. 90 seconds? Come on!

No amount of "collective responsibility" - as you put it - can correct for "personal stupidity".

What if she bought two cups of coffee and were juggling them in the parking lot and it spilled on her? What if the coffee were 140 and one landed on her head and she stands there for 90 seconds doing nothing? Would you feel the same then?

As I said earlier, millions of people have figured out the whole "coffee rules" thing and can enjoy a cup of Joe HOT.
 
2006-03-14 01:09:06 PM  
Bender

Point conceded there on the drugs. The fact that everyone knows coffee is hot most likely worked against the lady. It is unlikely you can exactly tell how hot coffee is through a styrofoam cup other than saying it is hot. Should it be so hot that it causes 3rd degree burns? What if she had been unfortunate enough to actually take a drink of the coffee (its intended purpose after all) What would 3rd degree burns in her mouth and throat been like? Would she have even lived through it?
Accidents happen...coffee does spill...when it does spill, it should not require surgery to correct. Especially if the person making it knew how hot it was, had been informed that people were burning themselves severely on it, and continued on business as usual. Part of the lawsuit (if I am remebering correctly) required McD to stop serving coffee at those levels.

Care to take a stab at why drug companies are required to list side effects on their drugs now?
 
2006-03-14 01:10:23 PM  
Now if we can just get the ACLU to stop. Save us ton o cash!
 
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