A recent article in our hometown newspaper, The Tennessean, discusses a recently-filed lawsuit that is dredging up old arguments surrounding the infamous hot coffee case of the early 1990’s. This is not the only case that has similar characteristics, nor is it the first time we’ve discussed the misinformation associated with the hot coffee case. However, this case comes as close as any to matching the issues of the benchmark case.
Just after Christmas of 2011, Angelica Keller was on a Southwest flight bound for Houston when she ordered a cup of tea from the attendant.
Since she was seated in the front row, Keller, 43, did not have a drop-down table available. Before she could place the tea bag into the lidless paper cup, she spilled the hot water onto her lap.
Keller, a temporary construction worker from Smyrna, suffered skin blisters and second-degree burns, according to her attorney Rob Anderson. Anderson filed an $800,000 negligence lawsuit against Southwest on her behalf.
Tort reform advocates, of course, are again repeating the misinformation from the hot coffee case in the hopes of creating more support for tort reform measures. However, these discussions seem to be more about political posturing than saving companies money, according to Phillip Miller, a trial attorney and former president of the Tennessee Association for Justice.
“The bare-knuckle facts show that runaway juries were never a problem in Tennessee,” Miller said. “If you’re a Republican in Tennessee and you want to get elected, you can’t say you’re against tort reform.”
The full article can be read here.
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