A documentary out on DVD entitled “Hot Coffee” discusses a topic of extreme importance to everyone: tort reform. The film discusses the misdirection by big business concerning tort reform, and how the only entities served by such “reform” are corporations and insurance companies.
When we write on this blog about the injuries sustained by everyday citizens, many of those situations can be related back to tort reform. Tort reform essentially puts a cap on non-economic damages in a lawsuit under the guise of lowering costs and eliminating “frivolous” lawsuits. Punitive damages are capped under tort reform. Unfortunately, punitive damages are the only way for society to alter the behavior of large, extremely wealthy corporations.
If a corporation has a business practice that is dangerous to its consumers but that makes the corporation money, the organization needs an impetus to change its practices. Since money is the main motivator of almost all business, punitive damages are the most effective way to alter the course.
In the main example from Hot Coffee, the McDonald’s coffee burn case is discussed. McDonalds had a dangerous policy of keeping its coffee at scalding hot temperatures. The several million dollar verdict against the company, which accounted for only a few days of profits from its coffee sales, caused the company to lower its coffee to a safer temperature.
Had tort reform been in place, this never would have happened. The courts could not have fined McDonalds enough money to motivate a change.
The Metier Law Firm, LLC – Denver accident attorney