The documentary Hot Coffee reveals what really happened to Stella Liebeck, the Albuquerque woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonalds, while exploring how and why the case garnered so much media attention, who funded the effort and to what end. First-time filmmaker and former public interest lawyer Susan Saladoff uses this infamous case to investigate what’s behind the push for tort reform – which threatens to restrict the legal rights of everyday citizens and undermine the entire justice system.
Hot Coffee challenges viewers to reexamine their beliefs that the courts are flooded with frivolous lawsuits that lead to “jackpot justice.” The documentary shows how Americans are giving up their Constitutional rights without knowing it by voting for limitations on damages or agreeing to mandatory arbitration embedded in the fine print of contracts and waiving their right to a jury trial.
As described in a review by the Washington Post, “Unlike so many documentaries these days, ‘Hot Coffee’ is refreshingly unadorned or manipulated for artistic or tear-jerking effect. It winnows down complicated legal arguments and anecdotal cases with compassion and clarity.”
Hot Coffee is playing this summer on HBO.