Re: Covering all the bases (Re: SERIOUS: Formal vs. informal orga nizations)

Subject: Re: Covering all the bases (Re: SERIOUS: Formal vs. informal orga nizations)
From: Janet Valade <janetv -at- SYSTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 16:25:34 -0800

> The first reason is that by and large, the legal system is
> reasonable. The news media, however, does not report on the
> millions of sensible decisions that get made in the legal system
> each year. They report on fiascos like the O.J. trial and the
> coffee suit.
And inaccurately. The common beliefs regarding the "coffee suit" are
an example of the media in action. Do most people know that McDonald's
coffee was routinely served at 190 degrees, a dangerous temperature, as
opposed to the usual 135 degrees? If you spill coffee on yourself, do you
expect to receive 3rd degree burns, a hospital stay, and skin grafts? Nor
did the media seem to want to mention that McDonald's had been sued 700
times before for burns from too-hot coffee, but had settled out of court,
with confidentiality agreements. After the suit, McDonald's finally
announced they would reduce the temperature of their coffee to the
temperature used by everyone else. Also, the jury did assign 20% of the
blame to the lady, but considered McDonalds responsible for 80%, especially
since there were previous burn cases that McDonalds chose to ignore.

Anyway, my point is that there may be even fewer "ridiculous"
lawsuits than we think. On the whole, juries are not idiots. (I have been a
juror more than once.) Often cases that seem silly when reported by the
media, who want to overdramatize things, are not silly when you look into
the actual facts. I don't think it's truly necessary to include a warning in
the hammer manual against hitting oneself on the head with the product.


Janet Valade
Technical Writer
Systech Corp, San Diego, CA
mailto:janetv -at- systech -dot- com

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