Many of us remember the infamous hot coffee lawsuit against McDonald’s several years ago. Even though that case has long since been resolved by the courts, it has become emblematic in the debate about who our civil justice system really serves and whether big changes are needed. Today, the words “tort reform” are common place in the news cycle and political debates that focus on whether we have an out-of-control civil justice system that needs serious fixing or whether our justice system really makes sure that those who are wrongly harmed can recover from those who caused harm.
On June 27, HBO will be airing an insightful documentary on precisely these issues. Called “Hot Coffee”, the documentary uses the McDonald’s Hot Coffee litigation as a spring board for an in-depth discussion of how important it is for average Americans—and not just large corporations—to have easy access to our justice system. By following the lives of four individuals affected by their inability to access the justice system, this documentary shows how tort reform affects everyone in ways that many may not even realize and being educated about what it really means and the very real effects it can have on our lives is important.
If this is an issue that interests you, as it should, we encourage you to watch Hot Coffee when it airs next week. And even better, invite friends and family over to watch it with you and discuss some of the key issues that it raises. Some good discussion points to raise are:
- Did you learn anything new about “torts” or “tort reform”? What about “caps” on damages? How many mandatory arbitration clauses do you think you’ve agreed to in the last year?
- What can you do to protect our civil justice system and change the misconceptions many people have today?
- What actions are you going to take about this issue right away? Writing your representatives in Congress and in your state legislatures can make a difference. There is pending federal legislation on these issues, and many states have tort reform efforts underway as well.
With election season kicking off, we are sure to be hearing more and more about tort reform in the coming months and now is the time to get informed and take action to protect our justice system. In addition to using Hot Coffee as a way to spark interest among your friends, you can also support efforts by “liking” the Hot Coffee Facebook Page, following on Twitter, checking out theTake Action page on the Hot Coffee website, and signing up for Action Alerts and/or DVD presales.