Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hot Coffee

This talking heads doco looks at the influence of big business on the civil justice system in the US, and the lengths that big business will go to to erode individual rights, and to influence both the nation's politicians and the judiciary.

This is New Zealand, not America, but even here we buy into the concept that Americans sue big companies at the drop of a hat and for the flimsiest of excuses. Once you've watched this documentary, you won't be so sure. Hot Coffee will ensure you never use the phrase "frivolous lawsuit" unthinkingly again. And you'll reflect that if you received a dollar for every time a republican politician used that phrase, you'd be quite rich by now.

Hot Coffee is named after a world-famous-in-America case where an elderly lady in New Mexico named Stella Liebeck sued Macdonalds after being burned by their coffee. Stella has become a poster girl for the ultimate in frivolous lawsuits, but only because spin doctors have made her so. Hot Coffee the movie examines this case and three others and shows how the concept of the frivolous lawsuit has been used to sanitize some outrageous miscarriages of justice. You'll learn about tort reform, big business "buying" the outcomes of judicial state elections, mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts (and what's wrong with that) and about how republican politicians have been lobbied so effectively that they'll parrot the Chamber of Commerce's line on tort reform over and over again. And the best part is, you'll be engrossed, educated and probably outraged so your time in the theatre will fly by.

My new fact for the week is that the American Medical Association is a member the Chamber of Commerce. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised - Medicine is big business after all.

Anne's rating 4/5

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