Perfectly timed to the uprising of the We Are 99 Percent protests, filmmaker Susan Saladoff has made the documentary, Hot Coffee, chronicling the systematic and cynical campaign to get people behind the notion of tort reform. In yet another example of how the system is continually rigged against the little guy, astroturfed groups with names like "Citizens Against Lawsuits Abuse" fool regular Americans into thinking that they shouldn't expect remedy from corporations who have damaged them, often permanently.
The eponymous coffee refers to the infamous McDonald's lawsuit where a woman was awarded nearly $3 million in damages after coffee spilled in her lap after going through a McDonald's drive-thru. While the butt of jokes, the plaintiff, 79 year-old Stella Liebeck, received third degree burns on her body and required years and multiple operations to treat her injuries. But McDonald's knew their coffee was too hot to drink and did nothing to change it. So what's the remedy for all us Average Joes? Ron Paul's invisible hand of the free market? Hate to break it to those free market fetishists, but that is exactly what lawsuits are. How else do you force corporations to modify their behavior to make their services/products safe for their consumers? That's why the damage caps and mandatory arbitration that these so-called 'tort reform' groups advocate only weighs to the advantage of corporations.
Hot Coffee is currently available on HBO on Demand and will be released on video November 1, 2011. But you can pre-order a copy and have it sent to the lawmaker of your choice to remind them that the 99% will not stand for more laws to disadvantage them further. From the Hot Coffee website:
Tell Congress and state lawmakers to oppose laws that restrict access to the courts.
◊ Congress: Make your voices heard on two important bills right now!
Stand Up for Patients Rights. Tell your member of Congress to oppose the badly named, badly flawed Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare Act of 2011″ (H.R. 5), which would allow for sweeping immunity from accountability for the health industryincluding doctors, nursing home operators, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals.
Stop the Corporate Attack on Our Rights and End Forced Arbitration. Tell your members of Congress to support the Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 987 and H.R. 1873), a good bill that would provide limits on mandatory arbitration by corporations; arbitration should be agreed to by both parties after a dispute arises, not inserted in the fine print of one-sided contracts.
◊ States: Contact your state lawmakers, and tell them to oppose caps and so-called tort reform.
Most of your rights are being taken away at the State level. Find your elected representatives. Tell them to oppose laws that limit your legal rights. And sign up for Action Alerts to be kept informed about whats happening in your state (well need your zip code).
Can you imagine 50 copies of this documentary being sent to Rick Perry and Herman Cain? The mind reels.
Saladoff sat down with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday:
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