At long, long, last. A new documentary may reveal the TRUTH about a tragic case. One personal injury case in the early ’90s has been held up as the epitome of a “frivolous” lawsuit. In 1992, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck was severely burned by spilling a cup of McDonald’s coffee onto her lap.

After a long struggle with the McDonald’s legal forces, Stella was awarded $2.9 million in damages by a New Mexico jury. The story became a national lightning rod for controversy over personal responsibility and bogus litigation. Poor injured Stella was lampooned for stupidity, clumsiness and greed. The term “Stella Award” was even coined to refer to any lawsuit or victim award viewed as preposterous.

New documentary presents radically different view of coffee case

“Hot Coffee,” slated to be released in 2011 according to, returns to the principals in the case to find out the REAL details. In many of the most important, basic details, Stella’s hot coffee case was very different from what was reported in the media.

One thing that is mentioned in the trailer (check it out above) that is not usually emphasized is the fact that the courts drastically reduced the jury’s verdict. Despite that reduction, the tort reformers NEVER mention that fact and ALWAYS refer to this as the multi-million dollar McDonald’s case! Very dishonest.

Also in the brief trailer you can see participants reflecting on the case and the amount of disinformation that was spread. The reason, suggested by some experts: McDonald’s objective to embarrass Stella Liebeck, ridicule her legitimate claim and foster a public climate in which injured claimants were reluctant to press for justice.

Thanks to the filmmakers for all their hard work on this important story. Hopefully it will change the reigning public opinion about Stella Liebeck’s intentions and claims.

Thanks for reading,

James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529