ARTICLE: KRAMER v. JAVA WORLD: IMAGES, ISSUES, AND IDOLS IN THE DEBATE OVER TORT REFORM Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1997 by the Capital University Law Review
Capital University Law Review

ARTICLE: KRAMER v. JAVA WORLD: IMAGES, ISSUES, AND IDOLS IN THE DEBATE OVER TORT REFORM

1997

Capital University Law Review

26 Cap. U.L. Rev. 701

Author

Mark B. Greenlee *

Excerpt



Stories about frivolous lawsuits have become a staple of our media culture. A $ 3.4 billion verdict against CSX for a railroad accident in which no one was seriously hurt, 1 a $ 4 million verdict against BMW for a bad paint job, 2 and a $ 2.9 million verdict against McDonald's over spilled coffee 3 are just a few of the more prominent examples of the cases cited by the media as evidence of a legal system run amok. These stories have altered public perception of the legal system and influenced legislative initiatives to change our tort laws. The quintessential anecdote in the debate over tort reform has been the McDonald's hot coffee case, Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants, 4 which involved injuries an elderly woman sustained after spilling a cup of hot coffee which she had placed between her legs at a McDonald's drive-thru. The Liebeck case attracted quite a bit of negative media attention immediately after the $ 2.9 million verdict. 5 It was mentioned as legislation was introduced in Congress implementing the tort reform component of the Republican Party's Contract with America. 6 It also provided material for comedians such as Jay Leno who included jokes about the case in his monologues, 7 David Letterman who referred to the case in his Top Ten Lists, 8 and the writers of the situation comedy Seinfeld who placed one of the show's main characters, Kramer, in a hot coffee lawsuit. 9 More than three years after the ...
 
 
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