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Author Topic: the land of litigation - can you believe this?  (Read 34184 times) Average Rating: 0
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BrotherAidan
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« on: April 12, 2005, 02:44:52 PM »



 only in the land of litigation ...
 
The Stella Awards
It's time once again to review the winners of the Annual "Stella Awards." The Stella Awards are named after 81 year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's (in NM). That case inspired the Stella awards for the most frivolous, ridiculous, successful lawsuits in the United States.
Here are this year's winners:
5th Place (tie): Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving little toddler was Ms. Robertson's son.
5th Place (tie): 19-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.
5th Place (tie): Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation, and Mr. Dickson found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food. He sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of $500,000.
4th Place: Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbor's beagle. The beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. The award was less than sought because the jury felt the dog might have been just a little provoked at the time by Mr. Williams who had climbed over the fence into the yard and was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.
3rd Place: A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her coccyx (tailbone). The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
2nd Place: Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a night club in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms.Walton was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.
1st Place: This year's run away winner was Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mrs. Grazinski purchased a brand new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, (from an OU football game), having driven onto the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers seat to go into the back & make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the RV left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mrs.Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising her in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually do this. The jury awarded her $1,750,000 plus a new motor home. The company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit, just in case there were any other complete morons around.
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2005, 02:56:55 PM »

Sadder still, this isn't the first time I've read about someone thinking cruise control was some sort of "auto pilot" and leaving the driver's seat.
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2005, 03:20:11 PM »

Old urban legends. See here.

Of course, the McDonalds coffee lawsuit was perfectly justified; there is no doubt that McDonalds was liable for providing an undrinkable and dangerous product. There was nothing frivolous about it. See here for the details.
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2005, 03:30:21 PM »

Beayf,
It was frivolous, when you order coffee, you should expect it to be hot. And dont expect someone else to pay you simply because you're too clumsy not to spill it on yourself. I've heard others try to defend the plaintiff in this case which has always seemed so absurd to me. But it's stereotypical of the modern American legal system...people refusing to take responsibilities for their own actions, always wanting to blame someone else; unfortunately the courts take these people seriously rather than throwing them in jail for a week on charges of contempt of court for bringing forward such frivolous lawsuits.
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2005, 03:44:08 PM »

Quote
It was frivolous, when you order coffee, you should expect it to be hot.

The coffee was around 40 degrees hotter than coffee is typically served at home or in a restaurant, and was capable of causing a full-thickness burn in less than 10 seconds. No warning was given that the coffee posed an imminent danger, which it clearly did. It is a clearly established doctrine that the seller of an imminently dangerous product is liable for injuries caused by the use of that product. This rule has been established in our legal system for over a century. See Thomas v. Winchester and Torgesen v. Schultz -- this is really basic stuff. This case was a rather cut-and-dried application of the rule; there was little ambiguity about it. Legally, McDonalds didn't have a leg to stand on.

You may believe the case is frivolous, but legally speaking, you are wrong.

Quote
But it's stereotypical of the modern American legal system

Again, the precedents forming the basis of this case were established in the 19th century. If these precedents are a problem (which I do not believe they are), it's not a problem with the modern legal system.
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2005, 03:59:36 PM »

Beayf,
It was frivolous, when you order coffee, you should expect it to be hot. And dont expect someone else to pay you simply because you're too clumsy not to spill it on yourself. I've heard others try to defend the plaintiff in this case which has always seemed so absurd to me. But it's stereotypical of the modern American legal system...people refusing to take responsibilities for their own actions, always wanting to blame someone else; unfortunately the courts take these people seriously rather than throwing them in jail for a week on charges of contempt of court for bringing forward such frivolous lawsuits.

For the second time, I'm in complete agreeance with GiC. Legal arguments are no exuse to disregard common sense and shirk responsiblity for your own actions.  If ANYONE serves me a hot drink, I'm fully aware that it could be anywhere from lukewarm (so, not warm enough) to just below boiling.  Don't you wait until the teapot whistles until you poor the hot water into your cup to steep the tea?  That water is as hot as water can get under normal circumstances.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2005, 04:02:39 PM by Elisha » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2005, 04:05:33 PM »

Wow Elisha, we're actually in agreement again...this could be dangerous Wink

But your right, I'm not certain as to how the law is written in cases like this, but if it justifies such frivolous lawsuits, we clearly need to look at revising it (as many in congress have been saying for years). I do like the Idea of a losing plaintiff having to pay court costs, though it wouldn't have affected this case, it would certainly help discourage more such lawsuits in the future.
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2005, 04:26:47 PM »

Quote
But your right, I'm not certain as to how the law is written in cases like this, but if it justifies such frivolous lawsuits, we clearly need to look at revising it (as many in congress have been saying for years).

In cases like this, the decision likely relied on years of precedents regarding manufacturers' liability for dangerous products. McDonalds gave the woman a product that, if used as intended (i.e. drunk), would cause serious injury. A reasonable person would not expect a third-degree burn from a cup of coffee. It's no different than the issue in Torgesen v. Schultz, in which the manufacturer sold glass seltzer bottles that had a high probability of exploding if they were used as they were intended to be used. A manufacturer, or, for that matter, a reseller, has a legal duty not to sell products that pose an imminent danger to the consumer; if they knowingly sell dangerous products, the offense is all the more egregious.

In other words, feel free to lobby your legislator to change the law, if you feel this type of lawsuit is frivolous, but if you eliminate this rule,you'll be eliminating your legal remedy when your car explodes due to a defective gas tank.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2005, 04:32:22 PM by Beayf » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2005, 04:34:35 PM »

This frivolous lawsuit stuff is quite funny (ie: see definition of negligence and the common law right of claim for breaching a duty owed).

I also get a kick out of the politicians screaming "tort reform", which is really code for "corporate welfare" and "corporate malfeasance protection".

Here is how it works. Bushy-poo says caps on med mal cases at $250k (non economic damages), which will stop the "frivolous lawsuit". Only the guy who bring the frivolous lawsuit is looking for $7500 maybe $10k, so gets hurt?

Well, I'll tell you who... it is the infant child who had his/her head punctured during delivery and is rendered a quadrapalegic for life. Since he/she is an infant, they have NO economic value (since they can't prove lost earnings) and they are capped at $250k for pain and suffering.

So, poor baby John Doe, who live his life in a diaper with 24 hour care 7 days a week, better find out how that 250k will cover his medical bills for his life (not to mention making his home handicapped accessible). Of course, the OBGYN who commited the medical negligence (his 5th act of negligence) will continue to perform deliveries.

Every so often, another baby will be put through this torment at his hands. God bless "tort reform".
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2005, 04:35:22 PM »

Quote
I do like the Idea of a losing plaintiff having to pay court costs, though it wouldn't have affected this case, it would certainly help discourage more such lawsuits in the future.

Of course, if you do nothing to change the common law, suits like this will continue to be decided the same way, and the plaintiffs will continue to win, just as they have for the past 100 years. I personally wholeheartedly support the outcome of this case; McDonalds was clearly negligent. I dearly hope the legal rule is not overturned due to misinformation and ignorance among the public, but if they succeed, won't they be surprised when their aspirin contains cyanide by mistake and the court tells them they're SOL.
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« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2005, 04:39:39 PM »

Old urban legends. See here.

Of course, the McDonalds coffee lawsuit was perfectly justified; there is no doubt that McDonalds was liable for providing an undrinkable and dangerous product. There was nothing frivolous about it. See here for the details.

I don't know about "frivolous". I do know that holding a cup between your knees to pull the lid off is the kind of thing I'm always on my kids not to do. A spill is inevitable and it comes under the heading of "contributory negligence".

As far as coffee temperatures are concerned: a couple of years back I did the scientific thing and measured the temperature of my wife's coffee as I made it. I make her coffee with a Melitta #6 drip unit and a vacuum coffee pump. I heat water to boiling in a tea kettle and when I measured the temperature in the drip unit it was about 200 degrees (as I recall). The temperature of the first cup of coffee was something like 185 degrees-- maybe higher. I don't believe the claim that "Coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees." If nothing else, people making instant coffee from a teakettle are going to get circa 190 degree coffee.

McDonald's was punished for not settling early. The punchline is that I can't get a decent cup of tea anywhere because people get the tea water out of the coffee maker, and 150 degree water is too cold to make decent tea.
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« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2005, 04:42:00 PM »

To add to Beayf...

Or when Ford puts out a product they know to be defective (see Pinto as alluded to by Beayf) or the Ford F-150, but decide even though defective, they will make more money selling the defective product than they will pay out defending lawsuits.

It is age old cost-benefit analysis.

Without the civil remedies, corporate America has NO incentive to make products safe.

Furthermore, our civil justice system (which is the best on the planet), is the reason why you have air bags in your car, child safety seats and seat belts.
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« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2005, 04:53:38 PM »

Is there a sign in McDonald's that says: "Do not throw hot coffe into your ear ?"

May be next time I 'll do just that and then sue them for damages. Evil

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« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2005, 04:58:25 PM »

Quote
Is there a sign in McDonald's that says: "Do not throw hot coffe into your ear ?"

Ah, but McDonalds could not reasonably be expected to foresee that the consumer would throw coffee into their ear. They *would* be expected to foresee that their client would try to add sugar and creamer to their coffee while sitting in a parked car.
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« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2005, 05:15:11 PM »

Here is how it works. Bushy-poo says caps on med mal cases at $250k (non economic damages), which will stop the "frivolous lawsuit". Only the guy who bring the frivolous lawsuit is looking for $7500 maybe $10k, so gets hurt?

Well, I'll tell you who... it is the infant child who had his/her head punctured during delivery and is rendered a quadrapalegic for life. Since he/she is an infant, they have NO economic value (since they can't prove lost earnings) and they are capped at $250k for pain and suffering.

So, poor baby John Doe, who live his life in a diaper with 24 hour care 7 days a week, better find out how that 250k will cover his medical bills for his life (not to mention making his home handicapped accessible). Of course, the OBGYN who commited the medical negligence (his 5th act of negligence) will continue to perform deliveries.

Every so often, another baby will be put through this torment at his hands. God bless "tort reform".

Or the other alternative is that the parents of this Child file a lawsuit againts the Hospital or Doctor, and win say a $20 million settlement, they're set for life and still have more than enough money to take care of their brain-damaged child. However, since this happens fairly regularly, the insurance companies decide that they need to charge more to cover their costs. Thus they raise insurance premiums, which are, of course, passed on to everyone else in the form of increases in health care costs. So when John Doe's next door neighbours (well, his former next door neighbours before he and his family moved to their new five million dollar ranch) have a little girl who needs emergancy brain surgery that has say a 50% chance of success, they find our that there are only three doctors in the Country who will actually preform this surgery (for insurance reasons), and it is going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, because the cost of the Insurance is millions of dollars a year because the insurance company assumes that a good number of the failure (remember 50% of all attempts at this dangerous, but necessary, surgery...however, without insurance involved it could be done for say $10k or $15k). Unfortunately, neither of the newly married partents have a job where they have health insurance (not at all uncommon, even in some decent paying middle class jobs), so IF these people can actually convince these Doctors to preform the Surgery, they will have little choice but to file bankruptcy, forcing financial hardship upon them for the next 10 years; possibly there is even the good chance that the Doctors will refuse to or delay in preforming the surgery because the high risk and little potential benifit, and the child will die...all of this so John Doe's parents can have their new Ranch and Luxury cars.

In short the point of this dramatic scenario is to say that the cost of paying these lawsuits are passed on to everyone (the doctor who is sued doesn't fork $20 million out of his pocket) whether in the forum of the uninsured person being unable to pay the outrageous medical costs, or in the high cost of insurance premiums; thus creating an unreasonable and unnecessary burden on everyone who needs medical care. Not that I'm trying to put you out of a job SouthSerb99 Wink but I think that no awards in excess of the costs (which may possibly include loss of work and future care costs), but combined with criminal prosecution of the Doctor (provided Criminal Negligence was actually involved, and it was not just a genuine accident; if that's the case, sometimes we just have to acknowledge that accidents happen and sometimes there's no one to blame for it, and we just have to deal with it as part of life)...hey, perhaps this could open up a few jobs in the prosecution (or Criminal Defence) field for you... Grin
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« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2005, 05:25:44 PM »

Ah, but McDonalds could not reasonably be expected to foresee that the consumer would throw coffee into their ear. They *would* be expected to foresee that their client would try to add sugar and creamer to their coffee while sitting in a parked car.

But what if I 'tripped' over the curve while walking into McDonalds; surely that should have been a problem that they had forseen...oh wait, I seem to recall a woman suing Bank of America back in the 90's for stubbing her toe in the door, or something like that, so mabey it will work?

Frankly, I dont think that McDonalds can be responsible for the misuse of their product, the coffee was designed to drink, not spill...now if she would have burned her mouth, mabey there would be something to that (still frivolous though, without a doubt)...LOL. I agree with tort reform, people just sue too easily and rarely take responsibility for their actions.
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« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2005, 05:40:11 PM »

Here we go again with the infamous McDonald's coffee case.  Beayf thanks for providing facts although people rarely concern themselves with facts when this case is discussed. 

Greekchristian and Elisha, I beg you to carefully read the facts provided by Beayf before you jump to conclusions. 

So-called "frivolous" lawsuits is most are completely uninformed about but that never stops them from spouting off that they "know."  Do you guys realize how hard it is to actually bring a claim?  One needs to find a plaintiffs attorney willing to take the case on contingency (meaning no money for years).  It has to survive a motion for summary judgment.  In most states, medical malpractice claims must be reviewed by a panel of physicians before the suit can be brought. 

And all of this discussion about "accidents happen" demonstrates a serious lack of understanding of our legal system.  I'd recommend reading some of our great legal scholars' treatises on the economic justification for tort liability. This is not "willy-nilly."  Our society decided to impose liability upon defendants for negligence, i.e. failing to comply with a standard of care.  It serves an economic purpose.  It would be much more expensive to not hold people accountable for their carelessness. 

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« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2005, 05:43:40 PM »

Or the other alternative is that the parents of this Child file a lawsuit againts the Hospital or Doctor, and win say a $20 million settlement, they're set for life and still have more than enough money to take care of their brain-damaged child. However, since this happens fairly regularly, the insurance companies decide that they need to charge more to cover their costs. Thus they raise insurance premiums, which are, of course, passed on to everyone else in the form of increases in health care costs. So when John Doe's next door neighbours (well, his former next door neighbours before he and his family moved to their new five million dollar ranch) have a little girl who needs emergancy brain surgery that has say a 50% chance of success, they find our that there are only three doctors in the Country who will actually preform this surgery (for insurance reasons), and it is going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, because the cost of the Insurance is millions of dollars a year because the insurance company assumes that a good number of the failure (remember 50% of all attempts at this dangerous, but necessary, surgery...however, without insurance involved it could be done for say $10k or $15k). Unfortunately, neither of the newly married partents have a job where they have health insurance (not at all uncommon, even in some decent paying middle class jobs), so IF these people can actually convince these Doctors to preform the Surgery, they will have little choice but to file bankruptcy, forcing financial hardship upon them for the next 10 years; possibly there is even the good chance that the Doctors will refuse to or delay in preforming the surgery because the high risk and little potential benifit, and the child will die...all of this so John Doe's parents can have their new Ranch and Luxury cars.


Oh please, Greekchristian.  This is all nonsense.  Parents who win large awards for injuries (yes, injuries, people) of their children (which someone caused by carelessness, meaning that it could have been prevented, mind you) aren't set for life.  Do you realize how much it costs to care for a brain damaged child? 

I can't think of a more courteous way to say this...you don't know what you're talking about.   And for the record, I'm not a plaintiffs attorney.  I'm on the defense side. 
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« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2005, 05:46:07 PM »


I don't know about "frivolous". I do know that holding a cup between your knees to pull the lid off is the kind of thing I'm always on my kids not to do. A spill is inevitable and it comes under the heading of "contributory negligence".


Which is why her award was reduced substantially.  I'm sure the link provided by Beayf provides the details. 

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« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2005, 05:49:36 PM »



I don't know about "frivolous". I do know that holding a cup between your knees to pull the lid off is the kind of thing I'm always on my kids not to do. A spill is inevitable and it comes under the heading of "contributory negligence".

As far as coffee temperatures are concerned: a couple of years back I did the scientific thing and measured the temperature of my wife's coffee as I made it. I make her coffee with a Melitta #6 drip unit and a vacuum coffee pump. I heat water to boiling in a tea kettle and when I measured the temperature in the drip unit it was about 200 degrees (as I recall). The temperature of the first cup of coffee was something like 185 degrees-- maybe higher. I don't believe the claim that "Coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees." If nothing else, people making instant coffee from a teakettle are going to get circa 190 degree coffee.

McDonald's was punished for not settling early. The punchline is that I can't get a decent cup of tea anywhere because people get the tea water out of the coffee maker, and 150 degree water is too cold to make decent tea.


1) re: McD's: Thank you Keble for being far more explicit.

2) MedMal: This is a completely different case than product liability such as Ford. As a former Actuary, this is an issue where most of the public is clearly ignorant (of which trial lawyers would like to perpetuate for their own ends). Insurance is an economic product as any other any type relative free market society. There is revenue (Insurance Premiums) and Expenses. Expenses are the hard part; there are "raw material costs" (claims paid), associated claim "adjusting fees" (lawyers fees, claims adjusters salaries) and then your standard overhead (rent, salaries, utilities, etc.). Insurance, being a product like any other, is a for-profit product. The way a company can write business profitably is to underwrite well, charing appropriate prices for the right risks. Some don't have claims, while others have large claims. The big question here is trying to accurately forecast your liabilities (why there are Actuaries) and correspondingly price your product appropriately. Insurance is one of the most heavily regulated products, with each of the 50 states having its own Dept of Ins. Some are super strict (e.g. WA, CA, NY and FL among others) and some will let you price yourselves out of the market place (e.g. IL). With MedMal, you have a small population of doctors. You have to share the cost somehow, but even then, costs can only be increased so much at a time due to regulation. In several states, doctors just can't afford to even practice because of the premiums - and these are good doctors who haven't even had any malpractice cases! Strict regulation can protect the consumer, but it can also contribute to economically devasting events - just look at the dozen or so companies that went under because of Workers' Comp over the past few years. Now, if you want to try and convert the whole industry under some type of government product (e.g. Hilarycare), be my guest. Just keep in mind that things like the situation with the CA State Fund (a pseudo-gummint "company"), where it has acquired around 20% of the whole country's WC market, but on an actuarial basis is around $2B insolvent (even though they would like you to think otherwise) and we all know who has to bail out govt related entities.

3) Product Liability (e.g Ford). Definitely agree here, that the CBA is an "evil" that companies do that they shouldn't. But again, see 2) above - Insurance is NOT product liability! (Tangent: Although I'm sure Ford's product liaibility insurer was pissed at them and hopefully non-renewed/canceled and sued them as well.)
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« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2005, 05:53:45 PM »

FYI.

Even though I just posted my response, it took me a while to formulate my thoughts and type it out since I suck at writing.  (GiC, nice explanation in the meantime.  You forgot to add the %30 trial lawyer fees though. Wink)
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« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2005, 05:57:20 PM »



Oh please, Greekchristian. This is all nonsense. Parents who win large awards for injuries (yes, injuries, people) of their children (which someone caused by carelessness, meaning that it could have been prevented, mind you) aren't set for life. Do you realize how much it costs to care for a brain damaged child?

I can't think of a more courteous way to say this...you don't know what you're talking about. And for the record, I'm not a plaintiffs attorney. I'm on the defense side.


What he said is much more informed comparitively speaking to the bad politics and naivit+¬ of the political lobbyists with respect to the economics of an insurance product (e.g. reality).
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« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2005, 06:07:05 PM »

I just read the details and won't change my story one bit.  I applaud McD's for at least attempting to have decent tasting coffee by keeping it hot.  It's not their fault customers are stupid and careless.  Matter of fact, 700 cases for a chain as small as McD's sounds rather small.  Now, I think McD's should be (class action) sued out of existence (along with many other fast food chains) for the blight they are on the world's health, but that's another topic.  Supersize Me! was a great rental a few months back.
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« Reply #23 on: April 12, 2005, 06:08:23 PM »


What he said is much more informed comparitively speaking to the bad politics and naivit+¬ of the political lobbyists with respect to the economics of an insurance product (e.g. reality).

He's equally uninformed.  I agree that the plaintiff's lobby is somewhat uninformed about the malpractice crisis but someone who suggests that parents of sick children are making out like bandits with awards is seriously misinformed.  Anyone with any familiarity with the medical malpractice system knows that's not true. 

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« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2005, 06:13:58 PM »

I just read the details and won't change my story one bit. I applaud McD's for at least attempting to have decent tasting coffee by keeping it hot. It's not their fault customers are stupid and careless. Matter of fact, 700 cases for a chain as small as McD's sounds rather small. Now, I think McD's should be (class action) sued out of existence (along with many other fast food chains) for the blight they are on the world's health, but that's another topic. Supersize Me! was a great rental a few months back.

How was this woman "stupid" and "careless?"  The coffee was served to her in her car.  She was not driving.  The car was not moving.  No car has a tabletop so it's reasonable to assume that someone would place the cup between their legs to add cream and sugar.  I'm relatively certain that you've done the same thing. 

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« Reply #25 on: April 12, 2005, 06:18:12 PM »

How was this woman "stupid" and "careless?"  The coffee was served to her in her car.  She was not driving.  The car was not moving.  No car has a tabletop so it's reasonable to assume that someone would place the cup between their legs to add cream and sugar.  I'm relatively certain that you've done the same thing. 

Sounds a lot like assumption of the risk to me.  Alternatively, I think I would have argued contributory negligence that outweighed McDonalds' negligence.
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« Reply #26 on: April 12, 2005, 06:21:23 PM »

I can't think of a more courteous way to say this...you don't know what you're talking about. And for the record, I'm not a plaintiffs attorney. I'm on the defense side.

First of all, you took my 'dramatic scenario' (yes, I even called it that in my post) and completely missed the point. The point is that, justified or not, malpractice lawsuits do more harm to Society, as a whole, than good. And I am by no means the only person who will say that the outrageous cost of Healthcare today is a direct result of these lawsuits; if there is actual criminal activity, then puruse the issue with a criminal prosecution, civil medical malpractice lawsuits should be limited for the common good.

And as to my scenario about the misuse of the money, I can think of three instances off the top of my head (from personal situations of people that I know and their families, not unsubstantiated rumors that I've heard) of people spending winnings from malpractice suits on various luxuries and easy living (cars, houses, boats, motorhomes, vacations, et cetera)...so while it may sound cynical, it's from personal experience.
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« Reply #27 on: April 12, 2005, 06:43:24 PM »



Sounds a lot like assumption of the risk to me. Alternatively, I think I would have argued contributory negligence that outweighed McDonalds' negligence.

Yes, which is why her award was reduced. 
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« Reply #28 on: April 12, 2005, 06:49:40 PM »

First of all, you took my 'dramatic scenario' (yes, I even called it that in my post) and completely missed the point. The point is that, justified or not, malpractice lawsuits do more harm to Society, as a whole, than good.

And you know this because of what???  Negligence is a hallmark of our common law system.  It's one of the foundations of our economic system. 

Quote
And I am by no means the only person who will say that the outrageous cost of Healthcare today is a direct result of these lawsuits; if there is actual criminal activity, then puruse the issue with a criminal prosecution, civil medical malpractice lawsuits should be limited for the common good.

People who say it's a "direct result" of lawsuits are ignorant.  It's a contributing factor but not a direct cause.  See the GAO report that was unable to make the case that frivolous lawsuits were directly responsible for increasingly healthcare costs. 

I'm going to explain this in a nutshell.  Criminal penalties are only justified when there is blame.  We generally don't punish those who are stupid and careless.  But carelessness can be very expensive for society so there must be a deterrent against it.  That's where lawsuits come into play.  Further, why should the victim of another's carelessness bear the risk?

Quote
And as to my scenario about the misuse of the money, I can think of three instances off the top of my head (from personal situations of people that I know and their families, not unsubstantiated rumors that I've heard) of people spending winnings from malpractice suits on various luxuries and easy living (cars, houses, boats, motorhomes, vacations, et cetera)...so while it may sound cynical, it's from personal experience.

Your anecdotal evidence doesn't prove anything.  If you're really interested, there is plenty of research into this subject.  I suggest the Harvard Medical Practice Study from the early 1990's. Health Affairs also published some in depth studies of the malpractice crisis and tort reform about a year ago. 
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« Reply #29 on: April 12, 2005, 07:10:07 PM »



Yes, which is why her award was reduced.

Which VASTLY outweighed any responsiblity by McDonalds.  She couldn't wait until she got home or a more stable environment to take the lid off?  Puleeeeze....

Jennifer, so you're at my house.  I put some water on and it boils (we hear it whistle).  You realize that you don't have time to stay for a cup of tea and instead (I just happen to have a styrofoam cup and lid) take it to go.  You pull over after a mile or so, and instead of getting out of your car and putting the cup on top of the car (a flat surface) and carefully lifting the lid to remove the teabag, you do it in the car and spill all over yourself.  Should you have the right to sue me?  Same situation as McD's.
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« Reply #30 on: April 12, 2005, 07:54:58 PM »

And you know this because of what??? Negligence is a hallmark of our common law system. It's one of the foundations of our economic system.

If the end result is to raise health costs while only providing individuals with benifit then it is detrimental to society...is this that far fetched of an assumption?

People who say it's a "direct result" of lawsuits are ignorant.

I could say the same thing about those who make ad hominem attacks an integral part of their argument, I presume (and hope) you wouldn't argue like this in the court room.

It's a contributing factor but not a direct cause. See the GAO report that was unable to make the case that frivolous lawsuits were directly responsible for increasingly healthcare costs.

Lawsuits directly affect Malpractice Premiums, which directly affect health care costs (to directly affect, it does not have to be the sole variable)...this article from the Congressional Budget Office does a pretty good job of outlining the situation:
http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=4968&sequence=0

I'm going to explain this in a nutshell. Criminal penalties are only justified when there is blame. We generally don't punish those who are stupid and careless. But carelessness can be very expensive for society so there must be a deterrent against it. That's where lawsuits come into play. Further, why should the victim of another's carelessness bear the risk?

How about this idea, revoke the guilty doctor's medical license if he is truly careless or stupid and let him personally (not the hospital, insurance, or any other entity) be financially responsible. A solution that prevents carelessness and protects society at the same time.

Your anecdotal evidence doesn't prove anything. If you're really interested, there is plenty of research into this subject. I suggest the Harvard Medical Practice Study from the early 1990's. Health Affairs also published some in depth studies of the malpractice crisis and tort reform about a year ago.

I'm just making the simple statement that abuse happens, I'm not making any comment about its frequency. You're trying to read more into my post than I put there.
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« Reply #31 on: April 12, 2005, 08:02:42 PM »

Regarding coffee temperatures.....

While I am at seminary, to try to make ends meet I also work at a coffee shop chain that will be unmentioned but is very well known.

As part of my responsibilities I will randomly weigh and temperature check beverages made by the folks working in my shift (quite suitable for someone with my fire engineering background). This particular coffee shop chain insists that all espresso-based beverages should have a temperature range of 155 degrees to 170 degrees.

A frequent customization made by a customer is to specify the drink temperature; the most frequent temperature request is to make the drink to 180 degrees or 190 degrees.

Also, at this chain "kid's beverages" will be heated to *only* 140 degrees.

Also, prior to attending seminary I worked as a safety consultant for various insurance companies. You would not believe the bizarre claims we would have....
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« Reply #32 on: April 12, 2005, 08:43:24 PM »


Which VASTLY outweighed any responsiblity by McDonalds. She couldn't wait until she got home or a more stable environment to take the lid off? Puleeeeze....

Jennifer, so you're at my house. I put some water on and it boils (we hear it whistle). You realize that you don't have time to stay for a cup of tea and instead (I just happen to have a styrofoam cup and lid) take it to go. You pull over after a mile or so, and instead of getting out of your car and putting the cup on top of the car (a flat surface) and carefully lifting the lid to remove the teabag, you do it in the car and spill all over yourself. Should you have the right to sue me? Same situation as McD's.

It's not at all the same situation.  If you reviewed the materials you would seen that there were numerous complaints to McD's about their coffee being too hot therefore it was reasoanble for them to foresee an injury.  Tort liability is about foreseeability of injury.  We hold careless people, i.e. people who are aware that their carelessness could hurt another but refuse to be careful, liable for their actions. 

BTW, how do you know she didn't "carefully" open the cup? 
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« Reply #33 on: April 12, 2005, 08:48:29 PM »

BTW, how do you know she didn't "carefully" open the cup? 

Because opening a cup of that type in a vehicle is negligence per se?
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« Reply #34 on: April 12, 2005, 08:51:33 PM »

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Becausing opening a cup of that type in a vehicle is negligence per se?
Obviously the judge and jury didn't think so, and ultimately their opinion on the case is the only one that matters.
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« Reply #35 on: April 12, 2005, 08:53:46 PM »

If the end result is to raise health costs while only providing individuals with benifit then it is detrimental to society...is this that far fetched of an assumption?

But arguably negligence is more expensive to society.  Read the Harvard Medical Practice Study and the IOM study for an estimate of the effects of medical negligence upon society.  Bad doctors cost society a lot of money.  I'm not even referring to malpractice settlements.  I'm referring to sick days and other costs associated with medical negligence.  We punish those responsible for negligence because their negligence is expensive. 

Quote
I could say the same thing about those who make ad hominem attacks an integral part of their argument, I presume (and hope) you wouldn't argue like this in the court room.

No, GC, it's ignorant because there is plenty of evidence to the contrary but it's always ignored. 

Quote
Lawsuits directly affect Malpractice Premiums, which directly affect health care costs (to directly affect, it does not have to be the sole variable)...this article from the Congressional Budget Office does a pretty good job of outlining the situation:
http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=4968&sequence=0

I'm sorry but it's not as "direct" as you think.  That CBO report is based on the GAO report which could conclude that there was a direct link between frivolous lawsuits and rising premiums.  The GAO found that it may be a contributing factor.  Not a direct cause.  And yes, I know that something can have several direct causes. 

Quote
How about this idea, revoke the guilty doctor's medical license if he is truly careless or stupid and let him personally (not the hospital, insurance, or any other entity) be financially responsible. A solution that prevents carelessness and protects society at the same time.

If doctors bore the total risk for negligence, then there would be no doctors.  For example, why do we have corporations?  We have corporations because people want to invest their money but not bear a risk of lose.  Society wants to encourage investment so it shelters corporate investors.  The same with other forms of businesses such as limited partnerships, etc.  Malpractice insurance protects society because it allows doctors to practice medicine without fearing the lose of all of their income. 

Plus that's not a good use of resources.  If a doctor feared liability, (s)he would have to set money aside to plan for that contingency.  That money would be out of circulation.  As an individual, for liquidity purposes,the doctor would probably have to put it in the bank.  In contrast, an insurance company can pool all of the premiums together and invest in the stock market thus providing an infusion of cash into the market.  If there were no insurance companies, there would no wall street. 

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I'm just making the simple statement that abuse happens, I'm not making any comment about its frequency. You're trying to read more into my post than I put there.

Read the Harvard Medical Practice study, the IOM study and the articles in Health Affairs from last year. 
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« Reply #36 on: April 12, 2005, 08:55:55 PM »

Becausing opening a cup of that type in a vehicle is negligence per se?

Why?  If the vehicle is not moving, why is a vehicle different from other places?  Must we have a cup placed on a counter for it not to be negligent?  What if you're standing with the cup in your hand?  What if you're standing on a street corner? 

Let's review the facts. The car was parked and the plaintiff was sitting in the passenger seat.  Arguably a passenger seat (in a vehicle that is not moving) is similar to a seat in a movie theatre.  Is opening a coffee cup there negligence per se? 
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« Reply #37 on: April 12, 2005, 09:17:07 PM »

Why?  If the vehicle is not moving, why is a vehicle different from other places?  Must we have a cup placed on a counter for it not to be negligent?  What if you're standing with the cup in your hand?  What if you're standing on a street corner? 

Let's review the facts. The car was parked and the plaintiff was sitting in the passenger seat.  Arguably a passenger seat (in a vehicle that is not moving) is similar to a seat in a movie theatre.  Is opening a coffee cup there negligence per se? 

Except that the seat in a movie theatre is not prone to moving without warning to the occupant.  The passenger seat in a vehicle is designed to do just that.  If the passenger is abiding by the law, he or she is wearing a seatbelt, which restricts one's mobility and ability to react to events.  Given how prone disposable coffee cups and their lids are to be troublesome when trying to open or close them, I would submit that the totality of the factors suggest that a standard of negligence per se is applicable, even though the majority of people using them have no problem whatsoever. 

Obviously the judge and jury didn't think so, and ultimately their opinion on the case is the only one that matters.

Judges are elected; that's hardly a compelling reason to hold their opinion in high regard.  (Their ability to hold you in contempt, however, is.)
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« Reply #38 on: April 12, 2005, 09:21:41 PM »

If doctors bore the total risk for negligence, then there would be no doctors. For example, why do we have corporations? We have corporations because people want to invest their money but not bear a risk of lose. Society wants to encourage investment so it shelters corporate investors. The same with other forms of businesses such as limited partnerships, etc. Malpractice insurance protects society because it allows doctors to practice medicine without fearing the lose of all of their income.

Plus that's not a good use of resources. If a doctor feared liability, (s)he would have to set money aside to plan for that contingency. That money would be out of circulation. As an individual, for liquidity purposes,the doctor would probably have to put it in the bank. In contrast, an insurance company can pool all of the premiums together and invest in the stock market thus providing an infusion of cash into the market. If there were no insurance companies, there would no wall street.

We are talking about cases of genuine carelessness and stupidity. Cases that are serious enough for a doctor's medical license to be revoked; this level of carelessness is rare, but is diserving of repercussions, and something that the vast majority of doctors would not face in their life, if it becomes a problem the definition of 'carelessness' would naturally have to be redefined as the expectations on the doctors would be inconsonant with reality. Of course, a small variation on this that may work better is allow the suing of the insurance company, but only in instances where a medical board has considered the doctor's infractions bad enough to revoke his license to practice medicine. The goal is to have a way to deal with the 1% of doctors who are truly careless, while preventing legal action against the other 99%. A means to prevent carelessness while drastically diminishing the cost of malpractice insurance. We all take risks in our day to day life, medical treatment is one of them, it can work miracles, but can also be potentially dangerous because of various factors...when you go to a doctor you take that risk and if something bad happens, unless the doctor's activities are blatantly unprofessional, it is a problem you have to deal with and can not blame others. Perhaps on top of this a legal release of civil liability should be a prerequisite for medical care.

Why? If the vehicle is not moving, why is a vehicle different from other places? Must we have a cup placed on a counter for it not to be negligent? What if you're standing with the cup in your hand? What if you're standing on a street corner?

Let's review the facts. The car was parked and the plaintiff was sitting in the passenger seat. Arguably a passenger seat (in a vehicle that is not moving) is similar to a seat in a movie theatre. Is opening a coffee cup there negligence per se?

It would seem to me that by the simple fact that the coffee was spilt that it is obvious that her actions were negligent. What is negligent changes for different people, for people with less coordination a car may not be an appropriate place to open the cup, even while parked. Actually I think a reasonable definition of a place negligently chosen to open the cup would be any place where it could be spilt. The act of spilling itself demonstrates complete negligence and hence complete responsibility on behalf of the spiller.
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« Reply #39 on: April 12, 2005, 09:33:56 PM »

I just read the details and won't change my story one bit. I applaud McD's for at least attempting to have decent tasting coffee by keeping it hot. It's not their fault customers are stupid and careless. Matter of fact, 700 cases for a chain as small as McD's sounds rather small. Now, I think McD's should be (class action) sued out of existence (along with many other fast food chains) for the blight they are on the world's health, but that's another topic. Supersize Me! was a great rental a few months back.

700 for McD's could be just a couple of for a local/small chain (e.g. Deaf Dog).  Can't satisfy everyone all the time. 
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« Reply #40 on: April 12, 2005, 09:35:22 PM »

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The act of spilling itself demonstrates complete negligence and hence complete responsibility on behalf of the spiller.

If I gave you a cup of water, but unbeknownst to you had accidentally mixed in some hydrofluoric acid, and you spilled it on your lap in the car and suffered a severe chemical burn to your genitals, should I be held free from liability, because the act of spilling shows that the injury was all your fault? After all, "the act of spilling itself demonstrates complete negligence", right?
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« Reply #41 on: April 12, 2005, 09:49:26 PM »



If I gave you a cup of water, but unbeknownst to you had accidentally mixed in some hydrofluoric acid, and you spilled it on your lap in the car and suffered a severe chemical burn to your genitals, should I be held free from liability, because the act of spilling shows that the injury was all your fault? After all, "the act of spilling itself demonstrates complete negligence", right?

Completely different.  If you have a hot beverage in your hand, you have a general knowledge about what could happen.  You know that the temperature has the potential of being close to boiling. 
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« Reply #42 on: April 12, 2005, 09:50:32 PM »


Except that the seat in a movie theatre is not prone to moving without warning to the occupant. The passenger seat in a vehicle is designed to do just that.

A car in park is not known to be prone to moving without warning.  Say for example, you pull right in front of a car parked in parking space (imagine that it's backwards), are you negligent?  No, because the car was parked so you didn't foresee that it would move. 

Quote
If the passenger is abiding by the law, he or she is wearing a seatbelt, which restricts one's mobility and ability to react to events. Given how prone disposable coffee cups and their lids are to be troublesome when trying to open or close them, I would submit that the totality of the factors suggest that a standard of negligence per se is applicable, even though the majority of people using them have no problem whatsoever.

You're not required to wear a seatbelt in a parked car.  What about someone who opens a coffee cup who is wearing a backbrace so isn't completely mobile.  Are they negligent? 

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Judges are elected; that's hardly a compelling reason to hold their opinion in high regard. (Their ability to hold you in contempt, however, is.)

We hold their opinions in "hig regard" because otherwise we have anarchy. 
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« Reply #43 on: April 12, 2005, 10:06:31 PM »


We are talking about cases of genuine carelessness and stupidity. Cases that are serious enough for a doctor's medical license to be revoked; this level of carelessness is rare, but is diserving of repercussions, and something that the vast majority of doctors would not face in their life, if it becomes a problem the definition of 'carelessness' would naturally have to be redefined as the expectations on the doctors would be inconsonant with reality.

A doctor's license can be revoked for incompetence but negligence isn't necessarily incompetence.  Most physicians who are found legally negligent never lose their licenses. 

Forgive me for giving a brief lesson on medical malpractice law (I'm getting published on this topic!).  Under negligence law, the plaintiff has to show four things: duty, breach, causation and damages.  Duty, or duty of care, can be described as the standard of practice.  For most defendants, the duty of care is reasonableness meaning that stupidity is not a defense.  We are expected to act like a reasoanble person would have acted.  In the McD case, the jury concluded that a reasonable company would have known from the prior complaints that coffee that hot could injure someone. 

Physicians are unlike other professions in that they are allowed to determine the standard of care (there are exceptions but I won't get into it).  In medmal case, a plaintiff needs a physician expert witness to testify as to what physicians handle that specific situation.  That's the standard of care.  It's not reasonableness or even the best way to do the procedure.  This is highly deferential to the medical profession. 

So in a medical malpractice case, the physician breaches the medical community standard of care. 

Quote
Of course, a small variation on this that may work better is allow the suing of the insurance company, but only in instances where a medical board has considered the doctor's infractions bad enough to revoke his license to practice medicine. The goal is to have a way to deal with the 1% of doctors who are truly careless, while preventing legal action against the other 99%.

But our tort system is based on providing redress for injured plaintiffs.  If you see a physician and his negligently treats you and as a result you are injured, shouldn't you be compensated?  If the physician's insurance company doesn't compensate you, then society bears the cost.  If you can't work, then you go on welfare.  If you have to take sick leave then your company has to hire a replacement.  The tort system simply shifts the risk to the person who was careless.  It makes perfect economic sense. 

Quote
A means to prevent carelessness while drastically diminishing the cost of malpractice insurance. We all take risks in our day to day life, medical treatment is one of them, it can work miracles, but can also be potentially dangerous because of various factors...when you go to a doctor you take that risk and if something bad happens, unless the doctor's activities are blatantly unprofessional, it is a problem you have to deal with and can not blame others. Perhaps on top of this a legal release of civil liability should be a prerequisite for medical care.

Having a bad result is not grounds for medical malpractice.  As I explained above, medical malpractice occurs when the doctor does something that the medical community does not do which causes the patient's injury.  If the doctor acts reasonably and you still have a bad result, there's no malpractice.  Conversely, if the doctor screws up but you're not injured, there's no malpractice. 

Let's take a standard example, the doctor leaves a sponge inside a patient after surgery.  Accepted practice is to count the sponges before the patient is closed up.  But say the doctor is careless one day and doesn't count the sponges and it is left in the patient.  That's clearly malpractice, i.e. (s)he breached the standard of care.  Let's give another example, it's now accepted practice for physicians to doublecheck the x-rays and all the records before surgery to make sure they operate on the right limb.  But say the doctor doesn't do.  The patient was supposed to have the right leg amputated and the doctor (without following proper procedure) cuts off the right leg.  No injury so malpractice.  There's breach but no injury. 

Quote
It would seem to me that by the simple fact that the coffee was spilt that it is obvious that her actions were negligent. What is negligent changes for different people, for people with less coordination a car may not be an appropriate place to open the cup, even while parked. Actually I think a reasonable definition of a place negligently chosen to open the cup would be any place where it could be spilt. The act of spilling itself demonstrates complete negligence and hence complete responsibility on behalf of the spiller.

Spilling is negligent?  Negligence  isn't an accident.  It's carelessness which is different.  It's knowing there's a risk and failing to take proper precautions to prevent the risk.  For example, if I'm driving in my car and following the laws and paying attention to the conditions on the road and hit another car, I'm not negligent.  But if I'm speeding, i.e. ignoring a known risk, I'm negligent. 

If spilling is negligence, then is an accident negligent?  What if the person was in the restaurant and tripped and spilled the coffee on another person, does that mean that the 'tripper' is automatically negligent? 

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« Reply #44 on: April 12, 2005, 11:36:38 PM »

A doctor's license can be revoked for incompetence but negligence isn't necessarily incompetence. Most physicians who are found legally negligent never lose their licenses.

I guess part of my point is, that if the doctor is not acting in such a way that he will lose his license (i.e. Incompetence or Extreme Negligence), it's just part of the dangers one accepts when they go in for health care. It is a risk the person takes and has to live with. In other words, if the Doctor has committed a sufficient transgression of the expectations of his practice to be sued, he has committed a transgression for which he should lose his license. And the logical inverse: if he has not committed a transgression for which he should lose his license, he should not be subject to a lawsuit.

Forgive me for giving a brief lesson on medical malpractice law (I'm getting published on this topic!).

Congratulations, I have no doubt you are more competent in the current laws than I am. However, I observe the results of the law, and I see an abuse of the System that I believe needs to be Corrected, and I believe there is a better alternative to the system that we have. (Personally, I advocate socialized medicine like what we see in the UK, but I'm trying to stay within the context of reasonable changes to US law.)

Under negligence law, the plaintiff has to show four things: duty, breach, causation and damages.  Duty, or duty of care, can be described as the standard of practice.  For most defendants, the duty of care is reasonableness meaning that stupidity is not a defense.  We are expected to act like a reasoanble person would have acted.  In the McD case, the jury concluded that a reasonable company would have known from the prior complaints that coffee that hot could injure someone. 

Physicians are unlike other professions in that they are allowed to determine the standard of care (there are exceptions but I won't get into it).  In medmal case, a plaintiff needs a physician expert witness to testify as to what physicians handle that specific situation.  That's the standard of care.  It's not reasonableness or even the best way to do the procedure.  This is highly deferential to the medical profession. 

So in a medical malpractice case, the physician breaches the medical community standard of care. 

My understanding is that any physician can question any other physician's standard of care? If this is correct, perhaps this is what needs to be addressed within our system. Perhaps a national association of doctors (I fear I dont know what organizations are currently established, but I assume some unified entity issues medical licenses) needs to choose a select few doctors who are allowed to testify in this regard, eliminating the chance that a lone doctor will testify against another doctor, but that all doctors allowed to testify to this extent are extremly respected members of the medical community, approved by an overwhelming majority of doctors nation wide.

But our tort system is based on providing redress for injured plaintiffs.  If you see a physician and his negligently treats you and as a result you are injured, shouldn't you be compensated?  If the physician's insurance company doesn't compensate you, then society bears the cost.  If you can't work, then you go on welfare.  If you have to take sick leave then your company has to hire a replacement.  The tort system simply shifts the risk to the person who was careless.  It makes perfect economic sense. 

Frankly, I think all medical issues should be state run anyway. But putting that aside, no. The liability does too much damage to the medical community, as I said before only if there is incompetance or gross negligence should the doctor be liable; otherwise, it is a risk you take when you choose your doctor.

Having a bad result is not grounds for medical malpractice.  As I explained above, medical malpractice occurs when the doctor does something that the medical community does not do which causes the patient's injury.  If the doctor acts reasonably and you still have a bad result, there's no malpractice.  Conversely, if the doctor screws up but you're not injured, there's no malpractice. 

Let's take a standard example, the doctor leaves a sponge inside a patient after surgery.  Accepted practice is to count the sponges before the patient is closed up.  But say the doctor is careless one day and doesn't count the sponges and it is left in the patient.  That's clearly malpractice, i.e. (s)he breached the standard of care.  Let's give another example, it's now accepted practice for physicians to doublecheck the x-rays and all the records before surgery to make sure they operate on the right limb.  But say the doctor doesn't do.  The patient was supposed to have the right leg amputated and the doctor (without following proper procedure) cuts off the right leg.  No injury so malpractice.  There's breach but no injury. 

The issue of the sponge seems to me to be gross negligence, though I'm not a doctor, so I dont know how easy it is to do such a thing. If, by the medical community, it's only considered minor negligence, the doctor should do what he can to the rectify the situation, but should not be liable (save maybe to do the surgery to remove the sponge).

Spilling is negligent?  Negligence  isn't an accident.  It's carelessness which is different.  It's knowing there's a risk and failing to take proper precautions to prevent the risk.  For example, if I'm driving in my car and following the laws and paying attention to the conditions on the road and hit another car, I'm not negligent.  But if I'm speeding, i.e. ignoring a known risk, I'm negligent. 

If spilling is negligence, then is an accident negligent?  What if the person was in the restaurant and tripped and spilled the coffee on another person, does that mean that the 'tripper' is automatically negligent? 

The person who tripped and spilled would technically be at fault. But it is just an accident, ultimatley no one should be able to collect damages in court, regardless of the extent of the injuries. Sometimes accidents just happen, and that's part of life, you should be SOL...same thing with the McDonalds issue (not that I'm trying to defend the corporation in general, I'm not a capitalist by any stretch of the imagination, I'm just discussing this particular case (though I dont think serving fatty foods is reason enough to go after them either)) but in that case, the woman is the person at fault, she actually spilled the coffee on herself, if you order hot coffee and that's what you get, don't complain, especially if you didn't specify a temperature as part of the purchase, if you spill it you're SOL. With medical malpractice, If the doctor preformes with a reasonable level of competency and is not grossly negligent and something goes wrong, that's part of the risk, and you're SOL. I personally consider this common sense, the difficulity is in exactly how to legislate it (and, no, I dont think we can leave issues of common sense to the courts, they have demonstrated themselves unable to exercise it).
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"The liberties of people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." -- Patrick Henry
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