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Re: What could have been done differently?

  • From: Valdis.Kletnieks
  • Date: Wed Jan 29 00:27:37 2003

On Tue, 28 Jan 2003 19:10:52 EST, Eric Germann <>  said:

> Sort of like the person who sued McD's when they dumped their own coffee in
> their lap because it was "too hot".  Somewhere in the equation, the
> sysadmin/enduser, whether Unix or Windows, has to take some responsibility.

Bad Example. Or at least it's a bad example for your point.  That particular
case has a *LOT* of similarities with the other big-M company we're discussing.
Cross out "hot coffee" and write in "buffer overflow" and see how it reads:


1:  For years, McDonald's had known they had a problem with the way they make
their coffee - that their coffee was served much hotter (at least 20 degrees
more so) than at other restaurants.

2:  McDonald's knew its coffee sometimes caused serious injuries - more than
700 incidents of scalding coffee burns in the past decade have been settled by
the Corporation - and yet they never so much as consulted a burn expert
regarding the issue.

3:  The woman involved in this infamous case suffered very serious injuries -
third degree burns on her groin, thighs and buttocks that required skin grafts
and a seven-day hospital stay.

4:  The woman, an 81-year old former department store clerk who had never
before filed suit against anyone, said she wouldn't have brought the lawsuit
against McDonald's had the Corporation not dismissed her request for
compensation for medical bills.

5:  A McDonald's quality assurance manager testified in the case that the
Corporation was aware of the risk of serving dangerously hot coffee and had no
plans to either turn down the heat or to post warning about the possibility of
severe burns, even though most customers wouldn't think it was possible.

6:  After careful deliberation, the jury found McDonald's was liable because
the facts were overwhelmingly against the company. When it came to the punitive
damages, the jury found that McDonald's had engaged in willful, reckless,
malicious, or wanton conduct, and rendered a punitive damage award of 2.7
million dollars. (The equivalent of just two days of coffee sales, McDonalds
Corporation generates revenues in excess of 1.3 million dollars daily from the
sale of its coffee, selling 1 billion cups each year.)

7:  On appeal, a judge lowered the award to $480,000, a fact not widely
publicized in the media.

8:  A report in Liability Week, September 29, 1997, indicated that Kathleen
Gilliam, 73, suffered first degree burns when a cup of coffee spilled onto her
lap. Reports also indicate that McDonald's consistently keeps its coffee at 185
degrees, still approximately 20 degrees hotter than at other restaurants. Third
degree burns occur at this temperature in just two to seven seconds, requiring
skin grafting, debridement and whirlpool treatments that cost tens of thousands
of dollars and result in permanent disfigurement, extreme pain and disability
to the victims for many months, and in some cases, years.

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