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Re: Compromised machines liable for damage?

  • From: JC Dill
  • Date: Tue Dec 27 18:00:53 2005

Here is the link again:


Please spend some time reading that site to educate yourself about the facts and common misconceptions about this incident before you try any further analogies based on it.
In *this* case the injured woman had done most[1] of the reasonable things one should do to try to mitigate injury, but she was seriously injured and the seriousness of the injury was directly due to the product being defective. McDonalds was held liable because they knowingly and intentionally sold a defective product even after having over 700 prior incidents (serious burns) reported to them due to this defect (the coffee being too hot).
Jason Frisvold wrote:

Still, a little common sense...  Hot coffee of any type, between the
legs, in a moving car?  Umm..  even "normal" coffee still causes a
jump of pain.  That jump of pain could easily cause a car accident.

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.

The coffee wasn't just "hot", it was much too hot to be safely consumed. Note that

[if the] spill had involved coffee at 155 degrees, the liquid would have cooled and given her time to avoid a serious burn


The company admitted its customers were unaware that they could suffer third degree 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.

Now let us consider Microsoft's continued sales of defective Windows and IE software given their track record for failing to ensure that their product works safely and doesn't enable others to cause damage to the user's system and data or (of primary importance to the networking community) the systems and networks of others:


Even if the end user updates their Windows/IE software the minute a security update is available, their browser would still have been vulnerable for all but 7 days in 2004! I wonder how 2005 has been shaping up. Hmmm. I wonder if Stella's lawyers would like to take on Microsoft....


[1] 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

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

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.