Earlier this year a documentary movie titled Hot Coffee was released to little fanfare. The other day it premiered on HBO to even less fanfare. So instead of wasting your time watching this trial lawyer public relations piece, I thought I might cut to the chase and give you my review.
First of all, Susan Saladoff, the producer and director, is a former trial lawyer. So that should clearly tell you that she is going to pursue a certain angle, as many documentarians do. However, when you peel back the layers on this documentary you can easily see Hot Coffee is simply a platform for the trial lawyer agenda.
I am not even going to get into the individual cases discussed in the movie, but each drives one of the key reforms the trial bar continuously fights against: caps on punitive damages, medical malpractice caps and arbitration agreements.
The fact of the matter is trial lawyers hate caps on things like punitive damages and medical malpractice awards. The larger the verdict, the larger their fees. Caps of any kind mean less money in their pockets. As for arbitration, trial lawyers want to eliminate employment arbitration agreements.
These are areas in which the trial bar consistently lobbies at the federal and state levels and challenges in the courts. Even if you go to the Hot Coffee website (which I will not provide a link too, lest it boost their Google search results), you will find that it is just stuffed full of trial lawyer agenda items. My favorite complaint they have is that they have a hard time competing to get their message out. Seriously, could someone grab me a fiddle already?
The website also has a "Take Action" link that coaches you on the movie’s issues and what to do and how to get involved. They also direct you to every organization that carries the trial lawyer agenda like Consumer Watchdog and Public Citizen. I am surprised they do not have a link for the American Association of Justice, which is the trial lawyer lobby. I would love to know who funded this movie and who paid for its website.
Bottom-line, save yourself time and don’t watch Hot Coffee. If you do subscribe to HBO, there is plenty of better programming. Try Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Plain and simple, Hot Coffee is trial lawyer propaganda.
Just remember, the United States is the most litigious nation on earth. Groups like CALA have always supported justice for people who have been truly injured. Also, legal reforms make our system fairer for everyone. Ours is a system that tries to make people whole, not rich, while trial lawyers are in it for their bottom line.