Most people have heard of the case where a woman who spilled coffee on herself sued McDonald’s because the coffee was too hot and won a huge settlement. However, the case was more complex than appeared to the public. The customer, who was 79-years-old, spilled an entire cup of coffee in her lap in 1992 immediately after leaving a drive-through. She suffered burns over six percent of her body and was in the hospital for eight days. While she was in the hospital, she lost 20 percent of her body weight, and endured medical treatments for two years following the accident.
The customer offered to settle with McDonald’s for $20,000, which would have only covered her medical bills, but McDonald’s refused. Finally, she sought a lawyer and sued the company. At trial, evidence was presented that McDonald’s forced its franchises to serve coffee between 180 and 190 degrees, which can cause third-degree burns on skin within two to seven seconds. Most other fast food outlets serve their coffee between 135 and 140 degrees.
Evidence also showed that in a 10-year period prior to the accident, there were approximately 700 other burn cases due to the too-hot coffee, and many of those people suffered third-degree burns, requiring skin grafts. A jury awarded the plaintiff $160,000 in compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages, which was reduced to $480,000 by the judge. The verdict was appealed and ultimately the case was settled for less than $600,000.
This case is a perfect example of an ordinary product (coffee) that has been made dangerous (way too hot) by the retailer (McDonald’s). But does this really explain it all? And what has this case meant for others out there? Since legal documentary Hot Coffee by Susan Saladoff premiered on HBO on Monday, June 27, there has been a lot of discussion about these questions and many others. Visit http://hotcoffeethemovie.com/ for more information and watch the trailer below:
While this is most likely the question on Americans’ minds right now, no one has the true answer aside from what has been provided from the results of Casey Anthony’s not guilty verdict. A jury decided on July 5, 2011 that Casey Anthony was not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.
According to an ABCNews article, one female juror stated that she did not say Anthony was innocent. Instead, she said that there “was not enough evidence” and, “If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be.” Anthony will be sentenced tomorrow morning for the four misdemeanors for lying to law enforcement she was found guilty of committing. She could even be released from jail as early as tomorrow.
While it is being argued that the jury could not prove how the 2-year-old girl died, there are several complex matters surrounding her death, including that her body was not found until after six months of her disappearance. And of course, there are other factors. However, jurors are responsible for basing their verdict on evidence. It may be easy for us to judge Anthony’s behavior after her child died, or even judge the jury’s verdict and show our disapproval, but the burden of proof in the criminal justice system is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a certain crime or incident occurred. This is instilled so that innocent people are not convicted of crimes that they did not commit.
Citizens’ faith in the justice system and juries should not falter based on this verdict. You could argue that aspects of the case were not prosecuted strongly or effectively enough, but you could also argue that a strong and effective defense was built.
The judicial system in this country has served its people for decades and juries make their decision based on the evidence provided, not based on their personal feelings or bias towards the issue at hand.
Although the Casey Anthony verdict will certainly go down in history, we cannot forget the foundations of our judicial system and how it is still functioning to the best of its ability as long as people are abiding by the law and fulfilling the obligations of their jobs justly.
Mary Fallin, the governor of Oklahoma, recently signed three bills that would change the state’s civil justice system, according to TimesUnion.com. While supporters of the bills, which become law on November 1, believe that they will benefit the local business climate, opponents believe that these reforms put business and insurance interests ahead of injured Oklahomans.
The 3 proposed civil justice reform bills would affect a civil lawsuit in the following ways:
A cap of $350,000 is imposed on pain and suffering damages awarded to injured victims. The cap does not apply towards damages awarded for lost income or medical expenses. The court has the authority to lift the cap in the case of a defendant who acted with reckless disregard, gross negligence, or malicious conduct;
Defendants are prevented from being forced to pay more in damages than the amount determined by the jury; and
Jurors in civil cases must be told that awards are not subject to federal or state income taxes.
The measurable effects of these bills on the Oklahoma civil justice system have yet to be determined; however, these changes will affect Oklahoma accident victims. Laws change, can have loopholes, and may benefit one side over the other, but an injured victim does not have to worry about any of these if they consult with a knowledgeable Oklahoma City personal injury attorney.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Oklahoma, the trusted personal injury lawyers of Maples Law Firm, LLP, can provide you with the legal guidance you need. We have a critical understanding of all civil law and believe all Oklahoma accident victims deserve full compensation for what they have suffered. Find out about your case today; call us for a free consultation at 1-888-226-6159.
Texting while driving is a serious problem nationwide, and Oklahoma officials are cracking down to prevent car crashes related to texting not only involving teens, but for motorists of all ages within the state. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, over a dozen Oklahoma City high school students and safety advocates helped the governor launch an awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of texting and driving. The governor stated that about 700 Oklahoma car accidents, 30 of which were fatal, have involved a motorist who was either sending or reading a text message. Parents of teens lost in Oklahoma auto accidents also came out to show support and spread awareness of the tragedies that can happen because of drivers texting while driving.
Driver inattention is one of the most common causes of car crashes in Oklahoma and across the country. Taking one’s eyes off the road for even a split second can cause an accident with irreparable damage and alter the lives of all motorists involved in a crash permanently. Serious injuries such as brain damage, broken bones, amputation, nerve damage, disfigurement, burns and death can all occur due to an Oklahoma car accident caused by texting while driving.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an Oklahoma City car accident, or if you have lost a loved in a crash and you suspect that driver inattention was a contributing factor, please get in touch with the dedicated Oklahoma auto accident attorneys at The Maples Law Firm. Losing a loved one or suffering a debilitating injury due to someone else’s negligence is never easy on a family. Not only is the pain physical, but mental and financial as well. Mounting medical bills or funeral expenses, the loss of income, loss of love, pain and suffering and other damages may be incurred as a result of the Oklahoma car crash. While no amount of money will take back what happened, damages may lessen the burden so that you and your family can focus on healing. The experienced lawyers at The Maples Law Firm will carefully examine the details surrounding the Oklahoma car accident to ensure that your rights are upheld and you are compensated fairly for your losses. To learn more about how we can help, call our firm today at 1(888) 429-0609 for a free consultation.
While many people often connotatively associate the term “whistleblower” with something negative, this is not the case. In fact, individuals who choose to reveal corporate impropriety are providing a valuable service that the United States government appreciates and awards. Qui Tam litigation refers to just that. Specifically, if one party discovers that another party is in some way defrauding the United States government, then the party who informs the government of said fraud is entitled to a certain percentage of the monetary amount that the government was defrauded.
Qui Tam litigation can center around a variety of fraudulent activities in Oklahoma and throughout the United States. According to the False Claims Act, lawsuits may be brought against corporations or other entities that defraud the United States government by:
Filing inaccurate paperwork that results in greater monetary disbursement being awarded to a company or other entity on behalf of the federal government
Conspiring to commit a false claim that would result in monetary disbursement being awarded to a company or other entity from the federal government, even though such disbursement is not justified
Delivering a false receipt to the government for its property or other assets
Making a false statement to the government in order to avoid having to pay a debt or provide some other reimbursement to the government for property
Often times, false statements and field claims are made in the healthcare sector, with physicians or other medical professionals overbilling the government or seeking excess federal funding or reimbursement for services that were never performed in the first place. Acts like this increase government spending, which is ultimately connected to federal income tax rates that affect all United States citizens. Whistleblowers, therefore, are nothing more than individuals concerned with the well-being of the federal government, our way of life, and who are concerned that a stop is put to fraudulent activity of all kinds.
At Maples Law Firm, instances involving the False Claims Act are taken very seriously. If you have information pertaining to defrauding of the government, please don’t hesitate to contact our attorneys today for more information and a free case consultation. Call us today at 1-888-429-0609 and allow us to help your case.
According to the Winston-Salem Journal, a widow was recently awarded a multi-million dollar settlement to be paid out by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. While a spokeswoman for the tobacco giant revealed that the company plans to appeal the decision, this verdict is nevertheless emblematic of negligent companies being forced to take responsibility when their products have caused harm to consumers. In the above mentioned case, the widow was awarded $5 million in damages and $12.5 million in punitive damages, all because the woman’s husband died from lung cancer, presumably after using R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. products.
Regardless of what type of product a person uses, the company responsible for that product has the obligation to manufacture a product that is free of defect, safe for consumers to use under normal conditions, and does not pose an unreasonable threat to a consumer’s well-being. In instances where a defective or faulty product harms a consumer, or if a product is improperly labeled or lacking an accurate warning notice, the consumer may be able to seek damages from the product’s manufacturer. Negligent manufacturer behavior can take multiple forms, but the most common types stem from the product’s initial design, the way the product is manufactured, and the way in which consumers are warned of potential hazards that a product poses via the product’s packaging and warning labels.
Each year, too many Oklahoma residents fall victim in some way to dangerous or defective products. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a dangerous or faulty product, please don’t hesitate to contact the products liability lawyers at the Maples Law Firm. Our experienced Oklahoma personal injury attorneys will hold negligent manufacturers accountable for their actions, seeking damages on your behalf. For more information and a free case consultation, please call us today at 1-888-429-0609.
From their law offices in Oklahoma City, the trial lawyers at Maples Law Firm serve clients in Norman, Lawton, Elk City, Tulsa, Enid, Weatherford, Clinton, Shawnee, Ardmore, Ada, Oklahoma County, Canadian County, Cleveland County, Logan County, and all communities throughout Oklahoma and other states.
Oklahoma City Personal Injury Attorney Disclaimer: This web site is designed to provide educational information. The car wreck, oil field accident, medical malpractice and personal injury information contained in this web site is not intended to offer legal advice. Information contained in this web site is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship, nor does it constitute legal advice, to any person reviewing such information. No electronic communication with the Maples Law Firm, or any employees thereof, will generate an attorney client relationship, nor will it be considered an attorney-client privileged communication. Any reference in this web site to past results for clients obtained by the Maples Law Firm, including reference to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, does not guarantee that similar outcomes will be achieved for future cases. Each case is different, and must be evaluated and handled based on its individual attributes and merits.