Mea Culpa: The Media’s Hard-on for a Good Penis Story

05/01/2012 @ 12:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

Mea Culpa: The Medias Hard on for a Good Penis Story Stella Liebeck burn photo

If you haven’t heard of the motorcycle rider who is suing BMW and Corbin seats for causing a lasting erection, then you have likely been living under a rock for the past few days. First reported by Courthouse News, the story has swept the pages of motorcycle blogs around the world, and has even garnered serious mainstream media attention. There is a reason this story is going viral, right? Our inner-child loves a good dick joke, and the setup on how a motorcycle has made a man erect virtually sells its comedic self. There is of course the “damn lawyers” angle as well, which makes for a nice one-two punch.

As you can imagine, the bulk of the commentary, both from readers and from professional journalists, has centered around the absurdity of the claim, with even jokes being offered about how an aged BMW rider should be thanking the German motorcycle brand for saving him money on Viagra, etc. The situation reminds me of the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit. You know the story, right?. A woman buys a cup of coffee at McDonald’s, spills it on herself while in the car, and sues the bastards for her incompetence. True to litigious American form, the unthinkable happened, and a jury awarded this gold-digging woman millions of dollars. It is repudiating, and it stands for everything that is wrong with the legal system, or so we would be lead to believe — especially by the media.

As I sat back this weekend and watched the comments flood in about the story, I realized that we the media (myself included) have done a huge disservice to the public at large — an act I thought I would never do. We offered up this story to mass consumption knowing full well the headline chasing/link-baiting were we about to commit. You see, I know a thing or two about the McDonald’s coffee case, and how that story was pitched by the media. Sitting in my first-year torts class in law school, our professor baited his trap and we walked right into it when he offered up the same premise as I have done above. How dare someone sue over some spilled coffee! How dare this man sue for an erection! Whether or not the seat caused it even!

The photo you see above is of Stella Liebeck, the 79-year-old grandmother who spilled 190°F coffee on herself while in a parked car, and suffered third-degree burns on her thighs, pelvic, groin, and genitalia. If that photo shocks and offends you, then I have made my unapologetic point. But what is truly shocking is the full-story behind Stella’s injuries and “frivolous” lawsuit. I have republished the account of her story after the jump, but hopefully it sheds a different light on the plight of our BMW rider, who claims to have had painful, uncomfortable, year-long lasting erections.

Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car when she was severely burned by McDonalds’ coffee in February 1992. Liebeck, 79 at the time, ordered coffee that was served in a styrofoam cup at the drivethrough window of a local McDonalds.

After receiving the order, the grandson pulled his car forward and stopped momentarily so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. (Critics of civil justice, who have pounced on this case, often charge that Liebeck was driving the car or that the vehicle was in motion when she spilled the coffee; neither is true.) Liebeck placed the cup between her knees and attempted to remove the plastic lid from the cup. As she removed the lid, the entire contents of the cup spilled into her lap.

The sweatpants Liebeck was wearing absorbed the coffee and held it next to her skin. A vascular surgeon determined that Liebeck suffered full thickness burns (or third-degree burns) over 6 percent of her body, including her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and genital and groin areas. She was hospitalized for eight days, during which time she underwent skin grafting. Liebeck, who also underwent debridement treatments, sought to settle her claim for $20,000.

Her past medical expenses were $10,500, her anticipated future medical expenses were approximately $2,500, and her loss of income was approximately $5,000 for a total of approximately $18,000. Instead, McDonald’s offered only $800 to Liebeck. When McDonald’s refused to raise its offer, Liebeck retained Texas attorney Reed Morgan.

Morgan filed suit in New Mexico District Court accusing McDonald’s of “gross negligence” for selling coffee that was “unreasonably dangerous” and “defectively manufactured”. McDonald’s refused Morgan’s offer to settle for $90,000. Morgan offered to settle for $300,000, and a mediator suggested $225,000 just before trial, but McDonald’s also refused these final pre-trial attempts to settle.

During discovery, McDonalds produced documents showing more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee between 1982 and 1992. Some claims involved third-degree burns substantially similar to Liebeck’s. This history documented McDonalds’ knowledge about the extent and nature of this hazard.

McDonalds also said during discovery that, based on a consultant’s advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste. He admitted that he had not evaluated the safety ramifications at this temperature. Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures, and coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.

Further, McDonalds’ quality assurance manager testified that the company actively enforces a requirement that coffee be held in the pot at 185 degrees, plus or minus five degrees. He also testified that a burn hazard exists with any food substance served at 140 degrees or above, and that McDonalds coffee, at the temperature at which it was poured into styrofoam cups, was not fit for consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat. The quality assurance manager admitted that burns would occur, but testified that McDonalds had no intention of reducing the “holding temperature” of its coffee.

Plaintiffs’ expert, a scholar in thermodynamics applied to human skin burns, testified that liquids, at 180 degrees, will cause a full thickness burn to human skin in two to seven seconds. Other testimony showed that as the temperature decreases toward 155 degrees, the extent of the burn relative to that temperature decreases exponentially. Thus, if Liebeck’s spill had involved coffee at 155 degrees, the liquid would have cooled and given her time to avoid a serious burn.

McDonalds asserted that customers buy coffee on their way to work or home, intending to consume it there. However, the companys own research showed that customers intend to consume the coffee immediately while driving.

McDonalds also argued that consumers know coffee is hot and that its customers want it that way. The company admitted its customers were unaware that they could suffer thirddegree burns from the coffee and that a statement on the side of the cup was not a “warning” but a “reminder” since the location of the writing would not warn customers of the hazard.

The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages. This amount was reduced to $160,000 because the jury found Liebeck 20 percent at fault in the spill. The jury also awarded Liebeck $2.7 million in punitive damages, which equals about two days of McDonalds’ coffee sales. The trial court subsequently reduced the punitive award to $480,000 — or three times compensatory damages — even though the judge called McDonalds’ conduct reckless, callous and willful.

A post-verdict investigation found that the temperature of coffee at the local Albuquerque McDonalds had dropped to 158 degrees fahrenheit.

Source: ‘Lectric Law Library: Photo: Hot Coffee

Comment:

  1. Marc F says:

    Superb article, very well written and considered. Way to rise above the temptations of sensationalism and easy page views.

  2. Westward says:

    The McDonalds coffee lawsuit made restaurants rethink a number of safety concerns about their practices, and rightly so…

  3. Geoffrey says:

    Thank you for this. I was about to scream the same thing.

  4. John says:

    Having practiced law for thrity years, I am tired of “tort reform” advocates trotting out the McDonald’s story without telling the truth about this horrible, horrible injury.

  5. ZeitgeistXIII says:

    Very interesting story, but not really relevant to the story of the BMW. The bike was fitted with a custom seat, so how corporate got dragged into this is because lawyers “sue everybody who touched it” . I do not know of any cases of seats ever or bikes being involved ina situation like this. I have sold hundreds of seats over the 26 years working in the powersports industry. The only thing remotely close was some females occasionaly admiting that vtwins feel best. Not just HD but Guzzis and BMWs also and they were not complaiing

  6. motogp fan says:

    That’s interesting…prior to reading this article and having that awful image seared into my brain I always ASSUMED that the woman was completely at fault in this case. Now I KNOW she was completely at fault. Don’t stick a cup of boiling hot coffee into your groin and take the lid off!

  7. jamesy says:

    Ha! You thought you could suck me into viewing this page by using a sexual tag-line, but I didnt go for it… uhhh wait…

  8. Semi-related, I recall a conversation I had with a major bicycle manufacturer and the concerns that had over saddle design and blow flow along the scrotum. The concern, interestingly enough, was over issues just like this one. Chewy.

  9. domenick says:

    Jensen, please don’t end comments discussing scrotums with “chewy.” Cool, thanks.

    Also, excellent article. I thought the original piece (and so many others like it) really understated the seriousness of the issue of priapism, whether or not the seat was at fault.

  10. chris w says:

    Jensen,
    At what point is the consumer responsible for their actions?
    Did McDonald’s keep their coffee at a higher temp than most, that may cause a danger?
    Yes.
    Should a grown woman or man know that putting a styrofoam cup of hot coffee between their legs in a car is a bad idea?
    Yes.
    As with most accidents, it took more than one mistake to make it happen.
    CPW

  11. Which is why Liebeck was found to be 20% at fault for the incident by the jury…

  12. PD says:

    Having been somewhat familiar with this case (concerning McDonalds), I was about to correct you on its typically unjust characterization in the early part of your piece. As I read on, though, I became pleasantly surprised and very impressed that you were able and willing to set the record straight. Kudos.

  13. Steveo says:

    Jensen, only one more thing.

    Circa 1992 Coffee tasters recommended internationally that the proper brewing and holding temp of coffee was to be 190′. For no longer than 15mintues then to be dicarded. “that is a direct requote from my Business Law professor 2 yrs ago who practiced during the “mcdonalds case”

    I will not disagree that it was a horrible injury. MCdonalds should have seen the writing on the wall and settled thus ammending their coffee holding temp after brewing. But MCd was not the one who, stopped the car, removed the lid, or spilled the coffee. Then again they should have saved everyone some money and just paid it.

  14. ZeitgeistXIII says:

    Thinking about this on the ride home I guess to try bring a perspective on how these cases are very dissimilar. By taking the BMW case and making it coffee. I buy a cup of Mickey Ds finest roast and taking the lovely dark roast that we all know they make put it in a thinner paper cup that is the same size as the nice thermostyrene it came in. Now its still the same temperature as before but now with the paper cup it quickly melts the wax holding the bottom together and spills all over my lap. Who do I sue? Mickey D’s? I have taken their product and through my own choice changes its specific delivery method and container. I guess I could sue the paper cup people if they claimed their cup was suitable for hot liquids or had a history of failures and injuring people and they continued to sell them for hot drinks. But really my misfortune is my own doing. I was not happy with the fine Mickey D’s cup for what ever reason and I changed it. So why should they pay for my choices? How is Mickey D’s or BMW responsible for some doing something on their own and changing the factory design or using it in unsafe manner? This is why helmets are not made here, this is why many small independent business go under. The insurance for some knob who cant take responsibility for their actions and sues everybody involved.

    As for the lady and the hot coffee we know all about her, she was a grandma, she was 79 and she wasnt even driving. Now was this her first cup of coffee? Was she suffering some demintia or a victim of some diminished capacity in some way? I am guessing not, she seemed to know how she liked it, with cream and sugar and how to put it in to hot coffee. Why would she hold hot coffee in her legs? Is it Mickey D’s fault for who ever was driving around in a car without cup holders? Maybe they should of sued the car company too just to get another couple million in punitive damages. The ruling should of been reversed with Mickey D’s at 20% fault and the poor lady who acted quite stupidly at 80%.

    Stupid hurts as the old Honda ad read, but it forgot in America Stupid pays.

  15. Grant Madden says:

    So why is BMW getting sued for the damage done by an added on after market seat?Dont undestand that at all.

  16. Grant Madden says:

    I think that corparate policy to deny any wrong doing no matter what the circumstances is largely at fault with the McD case.A little thought and a decent review of the case at hand was the correct decision but some fast talkin smuck of a legal adviser decided the best thing is to just deny responsability and then leave it to the courts,based on the theory that most fakes will give up trying for what ever reason(Not enough money) and most of the time Mc Ds will win out.Crazy logic.No compassion for victims at all and scant regard for anything but PROFIT,the great motivator.Cant blame the courts for the attitude of the defendant who lives in mindlesss denial.Yay the courts!!

  17. Westward says:

    Though placing hot coffee between ones legs is not ideal, surely one does not expect to suffer third degree burns should a mishap occur.

    The the simple thought that a food or beverage could be used in combat to maim an opponent, should give pause for reflection.

    Our society and its laws are designed to protect the not so bright amount us. Just because certain people are not at the same level intellectually as others, does not mean they deserve to be maimed or lose life as a result of a simple act.

    Since I have been riding bikes, l have met a few individuals that are missing digits from their hands. Why? They thought it was clever to oil their bike chains using the throttle while they held the rag in place…

  18. paulus says:

    thanks for the insight. My opinion is changed about the poor woman who was burned.

  19. ben says:

    Oh dear… Jensen grandstanding to make a legal point, using a motorcycle website to post graphic burn pictures, erm… no thanks, why don’t you take it to another forum, instead of using a captive audience to loose the bee in your bonnet.

    People are stupid, stick hot coffee between your legs, then reap what you sow. It’s these stupid ‘not my fault’ legal cases that are destroying all the fun in the world. 20% her fault ? What a joke.

  20. Nice article. I think that it leaves out a bit.

    Our courts are the primary source of consumer protection in this country. Most folks don’t understand that.

    The law is that when an entity (like McDonald’s) knows that their practices present a great and avoidable risk to the public, and they willingly ignore those risks, they can be found to be negligent and liable for harm that their actions have caused to others. The law is set up this way to encourage folks not to selfishly (e.g. in the interests of making money) disregard the safety of others.

    MacDonald’s clearly knew that customers were being hurt by their ridiculously hot coffee, because there had previously been over 700 claims where customers had received severe burns. They also knew that customers were likely to attempt to drink this dangerously hot coffee immediately, often in their cars, from their own research. Yet none of this influenced them to change their dangerous behavior to protect their customers.
    (Left out in the above story is the fact that the manufacturer of the coffee makers that MacDonald’s used had repeatedly told them that they were making their coffee too hot and that it was dangerous.)

    There are a couple of reasons why the jury (a group of ordinary folks who, contrary to what the press would have you believe, are no more likely to give an undeserved windfall to a litigant than you or I) gave such a huge award for punitive damages.

    First, they realized that they needed to give an award large enough to impact MacDonald’s (a very rich corporation) enough to cause them to change their ways. Even if it was likely to be overturned on appeal (and it was) only a huge award would scare MacDonald’s enough to encourage them to avoid another such award in the future and thereby protect future MacDonald’s customers.

    Second, MacDonald’s, in their arrogance, pursued a really ignorant plan of action at the trial. Liebeck was a little old lady. A little old lady that had experienced a very severe, painful burn to her legs and genitals. Her external genitals were burned completely off. (Can you imagine how hot coffee has to be to do that?) She had needed to have multiple plastic surgeries to the most delicate part of her body. MacDonald’s decided to bully her on the stand in hopes of causing her to break down. The jury was incensed. I’m sure that they didn’t have a hard time coming up with a huge verdict. I doubt that any normal person on the jury would have either.

    Let me say a few words about the press.

    When I was a law student, there were a couple of high profile legal cases in the press at the time that seemed to have some really illogical, and infuriating, facts and outcomes. They really upset me, especially because I was training to be an attorney. I did some research in the law library and found that the actual cases were hardly identifiable as the same case that the press had reported on. That was the first time that I realized that normal newspapers sensationalized stories to sell papers. They leave facts out, and even lie, to make stories juicier. Your local newspaper really isn’t much different than the National Enquirer, except that the National Enquirer is probably not as dishonest because their lies are often too stupid to be taken seriously by anyone with any sense. Your local newspaper is more insidious, and tries to give the pretense of being honest.

    When my wife went to medical school we started to notice the same thing with regard to stories about medicine. Except that half the stories lied to make doctors/hospitals look bad, and half of them exaggerated to make medical advances seem more impressive and exciting than they actually were. It was then that we realized that its hard to know if you can believe *anything* that you read in the newspaper. It’s both scary and sad at the same time.

    With regard to the BMW/Corbin seat case, we only know what the press has presented. There is probably more to it than we have heard. Going only by what we have heard, BMW wouldn’t be in privity of contract with the customer over the Corbin saddle (which is usually an after-market item) unless they had begun stocking it and they gave it a BMW part number. Generally a plaintiff sues everyone in the chain of sale, because everyone who made money from the defective product is liable. If BMW didn’t make any money from the after-market Corbin saddle they will quickly get themselves dropped from the suit.

    It will be interesting to see if the plaintiff in the case has evidence to show that the Corbin saddle is defective in some way. (Contrary to what the press would have the public believe, the plaintiff will have to show this to win. Or, they will have to show some other form of negligence.) I know that I wouldn’t have touched the case unless there were a substantial number of other Corbin customers who had been injured.

    I think that folks have to let the case play out before they just assume that it is a bogus claim. The best that we can all do is apply some logic to these types of cases when we hear the [limited/doctored] facts presented by the press. If you hear something, and it doesn’t really seem to be logical, there is probably something going on that you aren’t being told, or there is a lie involved.

    The press would have you believe that attorneys bring frivolous cases as a matter of course. They don’t. These cases are a lot of work, they take years to handle, and often the attorneys have to front all of the expenses for the case. Since most personal injury cases are handled on a contingent basis, a loss is often extremely expensive for an attorney, and few law firms are willing to risk the large financial hit that a case that isn’t strong might result in. Likewise juries and judges aren’t idiots who want to give millions of dollars to folks who don’t deserve it. They are like you and me. (In the case of juries, they could literally be composed of you or me.) The reality is that they really, really hate giving money to folks who don’t deserve it, and won’t.

    Sadly, we all have to take what the press tells us with a less than trusting attitude. That’s the moral of the Stella Liebeck case. Most of the public things of the Stella Liebeck case as the prototypical example of how our legal system is broken…except that it isn’t; instead it’s really one of the biggest examples of how the media is broken.

  21. JoeD says:

    She was at fault- 99%. MacDonalds gets 1% for giving us the Drive Through Window. Another stop for the Distracted Driver. Although she was not driving, any competent person should know how to handle dangerous substances. What was she thinking-oh she wasn’t.

    How does this correlate to a rider with an erection problem?

  22. motogpdr says:

    A and R is one of the best websites for sport bikes and racing……it isnt and shouldnt be a site to discuss law and social issues….lets stick to bikes and riding and racing……..just my humble .02$ worth

  23. jamesy says:

    Courts? a source of consumer protection? Bullsh*t. The courts are trying to be mom’s comforting nipple to the unfortunate who dont have a clue what they are doing- those useless dregs who would have certainly died and helped the gene pool had we not undertook to interfere.
    A tool for the re-distribution of the wealth of those who can to those who cannot and never will achieve sh*t -no matter what you do for them.
    In short a scheme to assure the eventual extinction of the human race. Those who cannot figure out how to do anything are left to have all the children… can you say duuuhhh!? That nanny state-ism is exactly what gave the Chinese that enlightened law of only having one child per family (unless you are rich or connected) and that child was of course, a male by their choice. Now they are up in the Stepps bringing down goat herders for concubines to the far too numerous men.
    Good thing we have those social politicians to help us out boy…
    And MOTOGPDR: its about the “hits” to the site, you got sumpin against commerce? ;-)

  24. jamesy says:

    Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping, and unintelligent. – H. L. Mencken

  25. 76 says:

    Blah, grown woman sucks for her and her dumbass mistake, please take that picture down and replace it with a 1199 and I will forgive A&R

  26. PD says:

    As a part of media, it is not only entirely appropriate for A&R to examine and even critique itself for how it presents stories, it is indeed refreshing, honest, and wholly commendable for it to do so. Again, kudos, Jensen.

    It is truly a shame that most sports fields, and in particular motor sports, are dominated by simple-minded thinkers, incapable of delving into complex, deep, intricate interrelationships, causalities, who are blind to deep social/economic nuances, who are threatened and disturbed at the slightest challenge to the simple, black-and-white, recognize-by-rote-rather-than-with-independent-critical-thought worlds, carefully crafted by – not even themselves as they mistakenly think but rather by – the Limbaughs and the O’Reillys, the corporate oligarchy’s propaganda mouthpieces, who so easily and without subtlety manipulate them this way or that, whether consistent or not, whether contradictory or not; yet, they obediently folllow, resenting this group, hating that group, vitriolically supporting that other group, all because they lack the computing power to make adequate sense of it all, to make the necessary connections. Of course, that’s all they’re capable of knowing and understanding, so, in their insufficient, stuffed-to-the-hilt minds, they nevertheless think that they know it all, utterly devoid of the faintest notion that just beyond their thick skulls there are vast oceans of factors they will never be able to even imagine, much less critically consider.

    A shame.

  27. ircsmith says:

    I had no idea. thanks for bringing this forward and making me think about this in a new light.

  28. jzj says:

    I’ve practiced for a while on both the plaintiff and defense side. I think what several commenters to this post are thinking typifies old-style “contributory negligence,” in which any negligence on the part of the plaintiff is a bar to recovery, whereas the court now — appropriately — employ “comparative negligence,” in which the plaintiff’s recovery is reduced to the percentage extent that the plaintiff’s own behavior was determined to have led to the accident or injury. It is clear that justice is served through comparative negligence analysis, which enables the trier of fact to appreciate all the evidence and apportion liability accordingly (unless there is no admissible evidence, in which case the judge can determine the issue as a matter of law). And yes, I have used the McDonald’s case as well, as an example of how foolish it is to reach a conclusion based upon a headline and without being in a position to hear and evaluate all the evidence.

    All that being said, the problem is the media seeking to play things up with a headline instead of trying to educate the public.

    Good article, thank you.

  29. Westward says:

    @ JoeD

    It’s interesting that you recognize coffee as a dangerous substance. Now that you acknowledged that, they should have place a warning label on it. You can’t say that warning labels would make it a $5 cup of coffee, cause that is what the Starbucks label does…

    @ Jamsey

    Government built the road I ride my bike on, even in the rural areas, and they attempt to punish people that are responsible for hit and run crimes against bikers, cyclist, pedestrians, and etc…

    Randy Singers diatribe above speaks to the point the article was written about, a rush to judgement based on loose information.

    Ever heard of Wyatt Earp, Bill Hickcock, or Bat Masterson ?

    Lawmen of the west that would not go anywhere without a gun… Recall how they tamed the west? If you had a gun, you had to check it in with the sheriffs office when you came to town.

    Why? So the citizens of that town could feel safe.

    Perfect example: Treyvon Martin… If they had that law today, a teen-ager armed with a bag of skittles and a can of ice-tea would be alive today…

    I would bet, what gave confidence to the neighborhood watch guy to even approach the kid, was the simple fact that he knew he was armed and dangerous, regardless if the kid was or was not…

    I reserve my opinions regarding the BMW incident, until the facts are all laid out…

  30. Andrey says:

    Excellent article Jensen; something I am glad I read. Ignore the small minded few who disparage your work and are too narrow minded to see the real issues here:
    Which were: McD’s lack of concern, their inability to “man-up” and offer genuine concern, recompense or compensation and then their bloody mindedness and stubbornness. These are the very attributes of large corporations that cause so many of us to treat them with disdain.
    To address some of those so quick to place blame on the lady that burnt herself; one day you too may be lucky enough to reach the age of 79. It will be interesting to see just how perfectly you conduct yourself at that age.

  31. 76 says:

    McD’s lack of concern, their inability to “man-up” ????????

    Her fault, I dont care if it was boiling when they handed it to her. Whats disgusting (other than that fcking picture) is the will to always try & fault someone when something goes wrong (and the lawyers trying to make a buck on it). Suck it up, thats life, you want realities that will shock the shit out of you, things that really are unfair? unjust? I promise they exist, spilling coffee on yourself in a parking lot fails to compare. Building a padded society adverse to any physical risk is what it seems we are after? Well guess what that world would not have bikes, why cause they are dangerous compared to their counterparts cars. Yes yes we get it, the point you were trying to make is she wasnt a gold diggin scrub, sweet, her lawyer was. It was McD’s responsibility to pay even 800 bucks cause she poured coffee all over herself? Fucking get real, about the only thing I got from this article is that it confirmed to me that old ladies legs are gross and when burned borderline obscene. What will I be like if I make it to 79? a fucking mess probably but I wont be going around suing people for my own lack of coordination or mental condition.

    What to know what this causes? A bunch of companies scared shitless by their own lawyers afraid to do anything different because they are scared of getting sued.

  32. >> Building a padded society adverse to any physical risk is what it seems we are after?

    The media has the public thinking that if anyone is injured anytime for any reason that they have the basis for a lawsuit and that they will then almost certainly garner millions of dollars in a lawsuit. It’s sad that the media perpetuates that lie.

    In fact, negligence cases are usually subjected to a balancing test. The test looks to see if the cost of making things safe is outweighed by the utility of the behavior. (Sometimes known as the risk/benefit test, or the Learned Hand test.) I’ve never seen the media admit to this even once.

    The next time that you are hurt, and it’s entirely your own fault, go to an attorney and see if they will take your case. I can tell you now that they won’t. Attorneys can’t afford to waste their time on worthless cases.

    Businesses aren’t afraid to “do anything”. And court cases don’t make them afraid to “do anything.” What they should be afraid of is doing things like selling you hamburger with shards of glass in it, using chemicals in public places that poison people, selling you baby food with no real food in it, and things like that. Those are the real sorts of cases that I’ve seen. The stuff that you read in the press are the rare exceptions, and even then the press enhances the stories (i.e. leaves out information or lies about them.)

    If it weren’t for our legal system, companies would feed you excrement, or worse, and they wouldn’t think twice about it, just to make more money.

    I’m sorry to tell you this, but if everything that you know about the legal system is from the media, then most of what you know is probably not just wrong, but much of it is a lie.

    Another thing. Hear that hatred of attorneys in some of the posts here? It used to be that doctors and lawyers were revered in our society. Why has that changed? I’ll tell you. The press can’t get away with fomenting bigotry against racial groups anymore. But hating entire groups of people is something that many people just naturally love to do. How then does the press appeal to that? They demonize doctors and lawyers. Doctors and lawyers aren’t ethnic groups, so the press can get away with it. They are also two groups that have a hard time reaching the public effectively to educate them to defend themselves.

    In short, the press panders to small minded people who aren’t willing to think deeply about these things. It’s easy just to hate, and not think. I hope that some of you will think about that and choose to do otherwise, but I know that won’t happen with everyone.

  33. jamesy says:

    Yeah what a bunch of libtards. Everything has to be somebody’s fault, someone ELSE that is. For God’s sake dont EVER assume any responsiblity for your own actions, nooo, its that F’in Mc Ds that caused it all.
    People who believe in that way should be fast forwarded to the resultant world of their ideals. I wish THEM on them. Watch them incarcerate themselves for every little action taken in what was once blissful freedom.
    This and every other nation have been rendered far less by their elected do gooders. You have no idea what it is to live in freedom and you never will
    Now THAT is a real shame.

  34. Jake says:

    @Randy Singer, I’ll concede that some lawyers are noble ethicists if you concede that some lawyers are shameless opportunists. For every case that resulted in a valuable consumer protection being established I can provide a counter-example of the public good being undermined to serve the interests of a handful of litigators. There are more class action lawsuits than I can count in which the case ended in a settlement where the plaintiffs received $0.25/each while the law firm pocketed millions. The public is the real loser in these cases as the company that settles the suit just passes along the cost to their customers.

    Also, surely you realize the irony in attacking the press for demonizing all people of a particular occupation. I mean, hello!

  35. jamesy says:

    Hey lets hear it for Randy! It takes a massive set of balls to come on any forum defending, ahem, “attorneys” at law.
    In fact, if I ever take total leave of my morals and decide to skid on a grape in a supermarket, may I call you???
    @ Jake
    “The public is the real loser in these cases as the company that settles the suit just passes along the cost to their customers.” Exactly right that. Add to that the cost of loss of moral standing and it becomes epidemic; a nation of whiners who have profited by their own lack of morals as personified by failure to take responsibility. Oucchh, thats gonna leave a mark…

  36. Westward says:

    @ jamesy

    Your comment towards Randy Singer reflects a lack of comprehension to his entire rant. If you slip on a grape, he basically said don’t waste your time calling a lawyer, it’s more than likely in vain.

    Also, name calling has no integrity in a civil discussion.

    As for freedom, assuming you are in the United States of America, its an illusion, mainly for those who carry any debt, and especially for anyone that is over tens of thousands in debt. “Freedom”, is the pablum they feed you though media and entertainment. Freedom is a catch phrase, or a drinking game for everyone else who is not an American. Every time a Yank says the word someone ends up drunk…

    @ 76

    I can only assume you are an American. Seriously, “realities that will shock the shit out of you”…

    Stella Liebeck was 79 years old at the time, one year shy of being an octogenarian, and lived to be 91. The average life expectancy of an American is 77. Your callous regard for the elderly reveals your nature and level of humanity…

    That woman’s ordeal is enough the “shock the shit out of most people”, that are not you…

    Man, you are mean…

    Do yourself a favour and call your mum, or your grandmother, let them tell you they love you, then come back to the fold…

    I will pray for you, and I am not particularly religious… Most of my Sundays are spent on MotoGP, WSBK or Riding… But for you, I will go to church just this once if it will help, and you can pick the denomination…

  37. jamesy says:

    Typical condescending holier/smarter than thou Brit. The only people in the world that know everything about everything. Got it all figured out chompin down on your kidney pie dinner. You’ve never experienced freedom. Its a lot like being black in that dont even try to talk about it unless you’ve experienced it, you have no clue, really! But then I’ve only travelled in 63 countries.. of course I’m certain that you have lunched with prime ministers in at least 64. Just like you knew what HRC was thinking about Nicky…. uhh huh!
    Really, you have a few things to say but you ruin it all with your condescension. Grow up a bit and get back to me perhaps I’ll pop for lunch if I find a need for rudeness from a person of very slight accomplishment to go with a decent vocabulary. My daily driver cost more than your house, the presumption of offering me a definition of freedom speaks volumes of your place in life… mostly in front of the tellie, by your own admission, what?

  38. jamesy says:

    Oh, and the word YANK, is that what you do when you think of America? Give it a good yank do ya?
    Gore them beaches alone ll give ya wood…

  39. >> In fact, if I ever take total leave of my morals and decide to skid on a grape in a supermarket, may I call you???

    Another thing that the press will never tell you. If you slip on a grape in a supermarket, and the supermarket has a policy of checking the floors at a regular interval (they all do, you can see the signoff sheet they all keep in the back), you aren’t getting anything from them. They haven’t been negligent.

    I’m telling you, if you only know what the press has told you about the legal system, then what you know is wrong.

    Of course most folks won’t believe that, because they’d rather not have to think about it. They enjoy bigotry against doctors and lawyers. That’s why the press feeds them a steady diet of it.

  40. richard kaye says:

    Incredibly poor taste in posting a picture of someone’s privates, that essentially have nothing to do with motorcycling, as a feature story…..

  41. Andrey says:

    Sorry jamesy, if anyone in the world has a reputation for knowing everything about everything it is a typical “loud mouthed” Yank….

    I only hope you never have a small accident that turns into something major because of someone else’s mistake…

    This article was posted to inform people that there is more than one side to a story….. and this is clearly lost on some people here. Some of the mean spirited vitriol is uncalled for.

  42. 76 says:

    “I’m telling you, if you only know what the press has told you about the legal system, then what you know is wrong.”

    Randy Singer,
    I dont speak of companies “scared of doing anything different” from exposure to media, I speak from 13 years experience within R&D of 2 of the largest motorsport corporations in the world and one behemoth. So yes, I get to see what you never will, and I think it would be quite a surprise for you to see how much doesnt make it because of just what I have said. why? I would say the majority of the time we cant do something revolves around rules, laws or a new precedent that the company is unwilling to expose themselves too. The other reason cost, but yes, in the motorsports world (the scary dangerous one), has companies lawyers scare their executives till they piddle their pants for the most insane and ridiculous scenarios and hypothesis you could ever imagine.

  43. >> I would say the majority of the time we cant do something revolves around rules,
    >> laws or a new precedent that the company is unwilling to expose themselves too.

    Good. That’s what we all want companies to be doing. We want them to have a very healthy fear that if they market a product that is too dangerous to their customers that things won’t work out well for them.

    But I think that your perception that “they are afraid to do anything” is misplaced. I work in the legal industry, I know the law and I’ve seen how previous cases have gone involving motorsports companies. The law isn’t keeping them from developing and marketing reasonably safe products. Judges and juries aren’t insane. They don’t find negligence just because you market a product that has an element of danger. As I pointed out earlier, there is a balancing test done on liability cases. Unlike what the press would have the public believe, liability is only found when the actions of a company as so dangerous that they outweigh the utility of those actions.

    I doubt that your company even really has attorneys that “scare their executives till they piddle their pants”. That’s just your perception coming from R&D. Everything that you can think of isn’t necessary a good idea, or safe. Executives being conservative isn’t unusual or a bad thing.

  44. 76 says:

    Yep thank god for those laws keeping us safe, the new lead law for instance, thank god the lawyers wrote a law to keep children from eating small motorcycles and ATVS, few, ducked a close one there.

    Actual laws are not nearly as constraining as the unsaid ones that are then backed up by internal legal (The guys you say dont exist). How high a tank can be compared to last model years even though there is no evidence that it causes any danger to the rider. Even though other smaller companies are able to do just the same because their is no law, just legal, internal, the ones you say dont exist.

    How about the Yamaha Rhino & the boat load of lawsuits because the thing could flip, surprise! Its an offroad vehicle, I can flip any car produced in a offroad environment. See there is a thing called common sense, one applies it to certain tasks, actions, etc etc. When I go bombing down a hill and try to turn and suddenly flip I tend to think thats my fault. But sure I could blame the OEM, for my basic stupidity, or even better yet, letting me do it to myself and of course lawyers will be happy to help.

    What products are out there killing people? In my experience its people, sometimes they spill coffee on themselves it seems, sometimes they try and use a personal watercrafts jet to try pleasure themselves, ether way there will always be someone out there willing to place blame due to their own shortcomings, and as long as theres money the lawyers will follow. Is it keeping us safe? Do I say to myself thank god McDonalds coffee is not as hot anymore, do I say thank god there is a gigantic plate rivioted to an ATV saying no rider under 16, nope I thank lawyers, and how much safer has it kept me? I didnt know I needed the protection in the first place, go figure.

  45. >> Yep thank god for those laws keeping us safe, the new lead law for instance, thank god the lawyers wrote a law
    >> to keep children from eating small motorcycles and ATVS, few, ducked a close one there.

    There is a big difference between what goes on in a courtroom with respect to negligence and product liability and the laws written by your elected legislators. If you don’t like the laws that they write, vote the bastards out.

    You may want to do some reading to understand your own country’s legal system. It’s sad that so few people in this country know how their legal system works. That’s why the press can get away with telling you lies about it.

    >>Actual laws are not nearly as constraining as the unsaid ones that are then backed up by internal legal (The guys
    >> you say dont exist).

    I never said that they don’t exist. Go back and read what I said. I said that I doubt that your company’s lawyers are scaring your company’s executives. That’s just your misguided perception.

  46. Bjorn says:

    Thanks Jensen,

    I always enjoy the articles that place motorcycling within the wider context of society. I also enjoy the “robust” discussion that ensues in the comments.

    Bjorn.

  47. ben says:

    Bjorn, why don’t you say something ? you said nothing at all except to drop a buzzword and pat Jensen on the back, what a yawn.

    Upskirt photos of grannys are really not wanted, or needed, on a motorcycle enthusiast website. Seems both this site and motomatters have dropped the ball lately, from being so-called voices of authority in the motorcycle world, both have shown the inner hack that lurks within. Guess anyone can put up a website these days though, eh ?

  48. Bjorn says:

    Sorry my post didn’t live up to your standards Ben.
    I think it’s a bit rich you bitching about a service you get for free; if you don’t like what Jensen offers, state your case and leave it at that. Coming back for another dig at the image smacks of not just squeamishness, but also some sense of entitlement. If you knock around bikes/ the outdoors for long enough you are likely to see far worse.
    I posted as a counter to a lot of slagging off that has hit the site recently; some of it deserved and some of it rooted in that sense of entitlement I mentioned before; “I read A&R, so they shouldn’t post stuff I find visually/ politically offensive”. I enjoy what Jensen offers and when I’m not in the field, A&R forms a portion of my motorcycle entertainment, so of course I’m going to stick my hand up in support.
    While granny upskirts are not really my cup of tea, it does indicate the severity of the incident that befell Stella Liebeck and as such serves to illustrate the point of the story. The broad outlines of the Liebeck case are known to most people, but I suspect many others, myself included, were not aware of the extent of the burns she suffered. It still doesn’t convince me that she should have been granted such a massive payout, but does serve to place it in a context that makes it more understandable. There’s that “buzz” word again; I’m not going to apologise for my writing style when it serves to convey my meaning accurately.
    I appreciated the overall point that the media portrayal of a case is the filter through which almost all of us view it. And despite [I would consider] a healthy level of scepticism I’m still guilty of leaping to a snap judgement. The [somewhat tenuous] link to the BMW priapism did remind me that a single or common source is not a good way to view an incident. After all I’m interested enough to read about this stuff in the media, but still too lazy to hunt out the original court transcript; how about you?
    There I go engaging in some of that robust discussion I so enjoy in the comments section.

    Bjorn.

  49. jamesy says:

    @Bjorn
    I dont know ya but I like you already.
    Only thing better than a sexy tag line reference is a large number of well written responses, yours being right up at or near the top.
    Entertainment, folks; its about the entertainment and exchange of ideas. Personally I learn from other peoples’ take on things even if it may vary from my first thoughts. If Jensen’s articles are food for thought, well that is entertainment for many of us, perhaps that’s enough?
    thanks to all

  50. Itsnotmyfault says:

    Ok, im selling knives but because of liability issues i dont have any sharp ones, just blunt ones. Please dont ever sharpen them as you might hurt yourself. Oh and i have Guns too, loaded and ready to go!