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swimpastor
July 13th, 2004, 09:13 AM
I started diving off of starting blocks when I was eight years old. I am now 51, and train at the Y, almost always alone, as there is no Masters program in the county where I live, or in any of the immediately adjacent counties. (There are several age group programs.) I want to work on my starts, but none of the Y's where I swim will let me use the blocks - saying that a national Y policy prohibits anyone from using the blocks unless a team/club coach is on the deck.

I have never heard of anyone suing a YMCA because of an accident on a starting block.

Yes, perhaps a coach would be valuable to me in this regard, but I'm not looking for a coach - I need and want a cooperative facility. The age groups' program schedules are not conducive to my schedule, and besides, the age group coaches already have enough on their hands during those times with lanes full of kids working their programs. I also am not excited about having to dodge those kids to do the work I need to do.

Anyone find a way to conquer this litigation-fear-induced insanity yet? Thank you.

aquageek
July 13th, 2004, 09:32 AM
Pastor:

First off, say three hail Mary's and absolve yourself of such venemous thoughts regarding Ys.

Secondly, you do indeed live adjacent to counties with Masters programs where you can dive off blocks until you are defrocked for activity unbecoming a pastor. There are a ton of practice times around the greater Charlotte area. Send me a private note and we'll get you all happy again.

dorothyrd
July 13th, 2004, 10:03 AM
It helps to know the building manager well. I have gone to her, told her I need block practice, and she has told the guards that I can do block starts at low pool usage time. Build a relationship with the people at the facility that can help you, and you may be able to get around the rule.

DocWhoRocks
July 13th, 2004, 11:06 AM
Just tell you are the coach for your team! ;)

But also as dorothy mentioned talk to the guards/their boss. Usually won't be a problem. Perhaps sign a waiver and give it to the Y that you won't hold them responsible if you hurt yourself.

Guvnah
July 13th, 2004, 12:53 PM
I do almost all my swimming at YMCAs. Even when I travel. (Love that AWAY program!) I may have visited 50 different facilities coast to coast by now. Most Ys don't even have blocks available. One in Bridgewater NJ has permanent blocks, and lots of teams that use the facility, but non-team swimmers -- no matter how good or experienced or capable they are -- cannot use the blocks. I'll be visiting some near Orlando next week, including the big one on International Drive, so I'll be sure to keep an eye out for policies there.

Yes, it is a result of our litigious society. Some of the Ys I have visited have also taken out their diving boards for the same reason. I feel for your situation, but I doubt you should expect change here.

I also have not heard of someone suing a YMCA specifically. But I know I have heard of people getting injured using blocks. When I was in high school, blocks generally were set up in the shallow end of pools. (Not just Ys, but high schools, club pools, private pools...) Since those days I believe there has been legislation that requires at least 5 feet of depth (or maybe 6?) for blocks in response to people getting injured. I think that happened some time in the 1980s or 90s... (And I think it paralleled the growth in starting techniques whereby you don't just blast straight out any more, but arch higher and dive a little deeper.) Regardless of the factors that led to more injuries, I can fully understand lawyers advising the YMCA overall to do away with blocks altogether rather than deal with new regulations. Maybe it was an insurance/financial decision as well. Maybe their insurance premiums would be astronomical if they allowed unsupervised block usage. YMCA is non-profit, and I know they run a tight budget.

None of what I said helps you, of course. But maybe it helps add a layer of perspective to the decisions that the YMCA has made.

---

Now, if we want to complain about something else that is nearly universal across YMCAs, I take great issue with the water temps most Ys choose to maintain. I'm sure that has already been beaten to death elsewhere in the history of this discussion board! :)

dorothyrd
July 13th, 2004, 01:02 PM
So true that they are afraid of accidents. Just last friday a 10 year old boy hit his head on the bottom at my daughters practice. I called her from my son's meet and she was full of the news of them boarding him and taking him by ambulance to the hospital. Fortunately he was OK.

My daughter also hit her head when she was 6. She was working with the coach, I was in the next lane lap swimming. She had done about 10 dives perfectly and the coach asked me to stop and watch her because she was so pleased with her start. I must have jinxed her because she went straight down and hit. Luckily she was only 40 pounds and the water was 5 foot, and she was OK, but it is a very sick feeling to see that and know there is nothing you can do to stop it.

I know, a little off the subject, but it is why high dives are being removed and blocks are being removed and now in our town, deep water is being removed from the lap swim. Unfortunately, you take these away, people never learn how to do it.

Conniekat8
July 13th, 2004, 01:07 PM
Originally posted by swimpastor
I...... find a way to conquer this litigation-fear-induced insanity yet? Thank you.

Yeah.... abolish insurance companies.
In other words, unfortunately there's not much you can do about it.

old dog
July 13th, 2004, 06:31 PM
QUOTE]Originally posted by swimpastor
I

Anyone find a way to conquer this litigation-fear-induced insanity yet? Thank you. [/QUOTE]

Change the law so the loser of the lawsuit has to pay for the winner's legal fees. Historically, BTL, [before trial lawyers]
this is what happened. End of silly lawsuits.....

aquageek
July 13th, 2004, 08:06 PM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
Yeah.... abolish insurance companies.
In other words, unfortunately there's not much you can do about it.

Quality suggestion. Yes, get rid of insurance companies so that when facilities are sued and lose, instead of the insurance companies paying the judgement the facilities can pay and subsequently immediately go out of business.

The concept of pooling or sharing of risk is what enables many litigation prone businesses from going under in a litigation mad society.

Sabretooth Tiger
July 13th, 2004, 08:07 PM
Old Dog,

Apparently you have never been in the position of someone with little to no resources having been harmed by a wrongdoer with massive resources. Most trial lawyers I know, including myself, are proud to fight for the disadvantaged, knowing that we are only compensated when we prevail.

my $0.02

carl botterud

old dog
July 13th, 2004, 08:48 PM
Originally posted by botterud
Old Dog,

Apparently you have never been in the position of someone with little to no resources having been harmed by a wrongdoer with massive resources. Most trial lawyers I know, including myself, are proud to fight for the disadvantaged, knowing that we are only compensated when we prevail.

my $0.02

carl botterud

A change in the law as I suggested would not preclude you
from doing what you do.....it would make a lawyer think twice
about taking up frivolous lawsuits that represent nothing
more than "Legal lottery"..."let's sue and see if we can get
lucky"... sueing McDonalds for hot coffee...
sueing
the Y for having starting blocks...the disappearance
of diving boards all across the USA...I know you know of all the
abuse...things need to be changed.

Sabretooth Tiger
July 13th, 2004, 09:43 PM
I don't know of any Y sued due to an injury off of a starting block. I'd venture that the insurance carrier while collecting huge premiums demands that the Y eliminate that activity, and others, to reduce it's own risk and build profits . . . all the while blaming trial lawyers. Are there frivilous lawsuits? Sure, but they are few and far between based on my first hand experience in the trenches. As for the mythical "coffee" canard, set forth below are the true, verifiable facts, as posted on the Public Citizen website:

Legal Myths: The McDonald's "Hot Coffee" Case

In 1992 Stella Liebeck, a 79-year old retired sales clerk, bought a 49-cent cup of coffee from a drive-through McDonald’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was in the passenger seat of a car driven by her grandson. Ms. Liebeck placed the cup between her legs and removed the lid to add cream and sugar when the hot coffee spilled out on her lap causing third-degree burns on her groin, inner thighs and buttocks.

This infamous case[1]has become a leading rallying point for those advocating restrictions on the ability of consumers to use the_U.S. civil justice system to hold corporations accountable for the injuries they cause. A New Mexico jury awarded Ms. Liebeck $160,000 in compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages and, in an instant, the media and legal communities were up in arms. Newspaper headlines such as “Hot cup of coffee costs $2.9 million,”[2]or “Coffee Spill Burns Woman; Jury Awards $2.9 Million”[3]painted the picture of a “runaway jury,” an unreasonable award and a perverted system of justice. However, both the media and those who want to take away consumers’ legal rights conveniently overlooked the facts of the case, creating a “legal myth,” a poster-case for corporate entities with a vested interest in limiting the legal rights of consumers.

The Facts

A detailed look at the facts of this case reveal that in light of McDonalds’ actions, the awards were justified:

By its own corporate standards, McDonald’s sells coffee at 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. A scientist testifying for McDonald’s argued that any coffee hotter than 130 degrees could produce third degree burns. However, a doctor testifying on behalf of Ms. Liebeck noted that it takes less than three seconds to produce a third degree burn at 190 degrees.[4]

During trial, McDonald’s admitted that it had known about the risk of serious burns from its coffee for more than 10 years. From 1982 to 1992, McDonald’s received more than 700 reports of burns from scalding coffee; some of the injured were children and infants. Many customers received severe burns to the genital area, perineum, inner thighs and buttocks.[5]In addition, many of these claims were settled, amounting to more than $500,000.[6]

Witnesses for McDonald’s testified that consumers were not aware of the extent of danger from coffee spills served at the company’s required temperature. McDonald’s admitted it did not warn customers and could offer no explanation as to why it did not.[7]

As a result of her injuries, Ms. Liebeck spent eight days in a hospital. In that time she underwent expensive treatments for third-degree burns including debridement (removal of dead tissue) and skin grafting. The burns left her scarred and disabled for more than two years.[8]Before a suit was ever filed, Liebeck informed McDonald’s about her injuries and asked for compensation for her medical bills, which totaled almost $11,000.[9]McDonald’s countered with a ludicrously low $800 offer.

McDonald’s had several other chances to settle the case before trial: At one point, Liebeck’s attorney offered to settle for $300,000.[10] In addition, days before the trial, the judge ordered both sides into a mediated settlement conference where the mediator, a retired judge, recommended that McDonald’s settle for $225,000.[11]_ McDonald’s refused all attempts to settle the case.

The Findings

The jury found that Ms. Liebeck suffered $200,000 in compensatory damages for her medical costs and disability. The award was reduced to $160,000 since the jury determined that 20 percent of the fault for the injury belonged with Ms. Liebeck for spilling the coffee.[12]

Based on its finding that McDonald’s had engaged in willful, reckless, malicious or wanton conduct, the jury then awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages; essential to the size of the award was the fact that at the time McDonald’s made $1.35 million in coffee sales daily.[13]

Since the purposes of awarding punitive damages are to punish the person or company doing the wrongful act and to discourage him and others from similar conduct in the future, the degree of punishment or deterrence resulting from a judgment is in proportion to the wealth of the guilty person.[14]Punitive damages are supposed to be large enough to send a message to the wrongdoer; limited punitive awards when applied to wealthy corporations, means the signal they are designed to send will not be heard. The trial court refused to grant McDonald’s a retrial, finding that its behavior was “callous.” The judge, however, announced in open court a few days after the trial that he would reduce the punitive damages award to $480,000.[15]Both sides appealed the decision.

Before the appeals could be heard the parties reached an out-of-court agreement for an undisclosed amount of money. As part of this settlement, McDonald’s demanded that no one could release the details of the case.[16]

Based on the facts, Corporate America’s and much of the media’s trivial portrayal of the case is deceptive and disgraceful. They have painted a misleading picture of a “legal horror story” when in fact, the case demonstrates a legal system that punishes corporations for misconduct and protects consumers who may be victims of their wrongdoing.

Note: The nature of the private settlement and lack of public court documents resulted in the use of primarily newspaper sources.

November 30, 1999

[1]. _ _Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, No. CV-93-02419, 1995 (N.M. Dist. Aug. 18, 1994).

[2]. “Hot cup of coffee costs $2.9 million; Damages awarded to woman scalded at McDonald’s.” The Orange_County_Register, Aug. 19, 1994, at C1.

[3]. _ _“Coffee Spill Burns Woman; Jury Awards $2.9 Million,” Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19, 1994, at B3.

[4]. _ _Gerlin, Andrea, “A Matter of Degree: How a Jury Decided McDonald’s Should Pay a Woman Millions for a Hot-Coffee Spill,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 1, 1994, at A1.

[5].__ _ Morgan, S. Reed, “Verdict Against McDonald’s is Fully Justified,” The National Law Journal, Vol. 17 No. 8;_Oct. 24, 1996, at A20.

[6]. _ _Gerlin, supra note 4, at A4.

[7]. _ _Morgan, S. Reed, “McDonald’s Burned Itself,” The Legal Times, Sept. 19, 1994, pg. 26.

[8]. _ _Morgan, supra note 5, at A20.

[9]. _ _Sherowski, Elizabeth, “Hot Coffee, Cold Cash: Making the Most of Alternative Dispute Resolution in High Stakes Personal Injury Lawsuits,” 11 Ohio_St. J. on Disp. Resol. 521, 1996.

[10]“McDonald’s Settles Lawsuit of Woman Burned by Coffee,” Liability Week, Vol. 9 No. 47;_Dec. 5, 1994.__

[11]. Gerlin, supra note 4, at A4.

[12]_ _Morgan,_supra note 5, at A20.

[13]. Morgan, supra note 7, pg. 26.

[14]. § 908 (a); § 908 (e) Punitive Damages, Restatement of the Law, Second, Torts, American Law Institute (1979)

[15]. Morgan, supra note 5, pg. 26.

[16]. Howard, Theresa, “McDonald’s Settles Coffee Suit in Out-of-Court Agreement,” Nation’s Restaurant News, Dec. 12, 1994, pg. 1.


carl

old dog
July 13th, 2004, 10:13 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by botterud
[B] I'd venture that the insurance carrier while collecting huge premiums demands that the Y eliminate that activity, and others, to reduce it's own risk and build profits . . . all the while blaming trial lawyers.


Oops, sorry. I guess it is the fault of insurance companies and "Corporate America".

I'm sure they don't hire hot shot trial lawyers who stand to gain
millions for their victories...

Something has to change.......

Sabretooth Tiger
July 13th, 2004, 10:44 PM
I missed your comments on the true facts surrounding the "coffee" case. Regardless, I did not intend to hijack this thread into non-aquatic topics, so this will be my last comment.

Old dog, you state: "I'm sure they don't hire hot shot trial lawyers who stand to gain millions for their victories..." is at least partially correct. Defense counsel get paid hourly, victory or loss. Wealthy defendants unleash masses of hourly counsel in efforts to crush plaintiffs, regardless of merit. Hourly rates here in LA for experienced, well qualified defense counsel can range from $275 to $800/hr.

"Something has to change?" What exactly? Do we need to make it more difficult for victims to be compensated for injuries suffered to protect corporate profits and malfeasance? I guess reasonable people can disagree.

carl

Conniekat8
July 13th, 2004, 11:43 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
Quality suggestion....

Is it posible for you to express yourself without making devaluing poersonal remarks directed at other people?

As for the rest of it... looks like you missed that I was making a tongue in cheek exaggeration, and tried to answer it seriously. Yea, I know what the insurance companies are for. :rolleyes:

Bob McAdams
July 14th, 2004, 03:18 AM
Originally posted by swimpastor
I started diving off of starting blocks when I was eight years old. I am now 51, and train at the Y, almost always alone, as there is no Masters program in the county where I live, or in any of the immediately adjacent counties. (There are several age group programs.) I want to work on my starts, but none of the Y's where I swim will let me use the blocks - saying that a national Y policy prohibits anyone from using the blocks unless a team/club coach is on the deck.

If you think that's bad, put yourself in the position of someone who hasn't been going off the blocks since they were 8. I'd estimate that approximately half the times I've gone off the blocks in my entire life have been at meets (both during warmup and during heats). That's definitely not a good recipe for developing effective starts!


Anyone find a way to conquer this litigation-fear-induced insanity yet?

First, be aware of the legitimate objections they might have:

1) It can be dangerous to do starts if there's somebody else swimming in the lane you are using.

2) It can be dangerous to do starts if you've never had any training.

So you shouldn't ask unless you've got a lane to yourself, and you should make it clear that you've had training.

I'd second the suggestion that you make friends with the appropriate people on the YMCA staff.

If that doesn't work, try the following:

1) If your YMCA offers private swimming lessons (mine does from time to time), sign up for a half hour lesson (at my YMCA, this costs $20).

2) Come up with some problem you are trying to solve with regard to your start (e.g., you are trying to decide whether to use a track start).

3) When the lesson is over, ask them what you need to be working on to improve your start. Ask the instructor to write it out. If possible, get them to put their name on it (make up some excuse about wanting to keep track of where you get different workout recommendations).

4) Make a copy of the instructions and show it to the lifeguard when you want to practice your starts and there is a lane free. Explain that you had a lesson on starts at their Y and the instructor said you needed to work on the things on the sheet.

5) The lifeguard may let you do it, but if not, ask for his or her name. Explain that you are going to have to talk to the management because he/she is refusing to let you do what another staff member told you you needed to do.

6) All of this may scare the lifeguard into letting you do it, but if not, go to the management of the Y and tell them you have a problem: You paid them money for a lesson, the instructor told you you needed to practice your starts, but now the lifeguard won't let you do it.

Even if this doesn't work, it should be fun!

Gareth Eckley
July 14th, 2004, 05:57 AM
McDonalds deliberately and cynically serve coffee that is far too hot. I have ordered coffee from McDonalds, this was 3 months after they lost the case in question. About 2 mins after sitting down with my meal i took a sip and burnt my tongue, it was super hot. Go into a McDonalds today and it is still served at a very high temperature.

Many times i have defended the courts decision there to others who have not understood what it was about. In the case of a wilfull and continued disregard for others, a punishment that makes the company take notice is needed.

Punitive damages have to be a large amount to make the company pay attention, $50,000 is meaningless to them $2.6 milion is not.

It is my understanding that the policy is to have super hot coffee to discourage people from staying too long in the restaurant. They do not want anyone to actually drink it.

The Y is right to restrict use of diving blocks. Without a coach to supervise their use, you could really only set them up at one end of a lane and make that lane a one way direction. You cannot have the danger of someone swimming into the dive zone.

When you dive, track or grab start there is a period of time, 1 - 2 seconds just before you take off, when you are looking straight down. In this time a person could easily move into the area that you will dive into.

You may be happy to take the risk but what about the person you could collide with ?

aquageek
July 14th, 2004, 08:22 AM
Originally posted by botterud
I'd venture that the insurance carrier while collecting huge premiums demands that the Y eliminate that activity, and others, to reduce it's own risk and build profits . . . all the while blaming trial lawyers.


The perception that insurance companies arbitrarily collect huge premiums is as far fetched as thinking it is McDonald's fault for serving hot coffee to people who spill it on themselves.

If you knew even the first thing about insurance, you'd understand how premiums are rated and subsequently charged. Premiums are based on risks, experience and costs associated with those risks. Rates in most states are state approved for most lines of business, hence the office of Insurance Commissioner.

Also, as a trial lawyer, what is among the first things you do when suing someone? You send a request to their insurance carrier for policy limits. Often makes me wonder how many people without insurance you sue. You'd almost have to agree that your livelihood depends solely on the existence of insurance, huh?

Tom Ellison
July 14th, 2004, 10:05 AM
Under normal circumstances I am not as blunt as I am going to be here, but this really got under my skin.

McDonalds should continue to serve HOT coffee! Anyone STUPID enough to spill hot coffee in their lap has NO ONE to blame but themselves. Law suits such as this are a perfect example of a system run amuck!

Leonard Jansen
July 14th, 2004, 10:41 AM
Originally posted by botterud

Many customers received severe burns to the genital area, perineum, inner thighs and buttocks.


Sounds vaguely perverse, actually.

Solution 1: Buy/use cup holder in car.
Solution 2: Don't drink hot coffee in a moving vehicle. Drive safely.
Solution 3: Ignore solutions 1 & 2 and let Darwinism solve the problem. It takes a few generations, but it will work.

-LBJ

Tom Ellison
July 14th, 2004, 10:43 AM
Amen Leonard....

Sabretooth Tiger
July 14th, 2004, 11:22 AM
To Aquageek: You write: "You'd almost have to agree that your livelihood depends solely on the existence of insurance, huh?" No I would not. I am not a personal injury lawyer. My practice is civil rights and employment law. My decisions regarding tactics are never based on the presence, or lack thereof, of insurance. I can tell you, however, that cases where there is no insurance tend to resolve much more quickly and efficiently than those where there is an insurance policy. I could explain why, but it would be a treatise. If you want to continue this discussion off-forum, I'd be happy to directly email you.

To Leonard and Tom: Please re-read the facts of the case. McDonald's sold coffee at temperature that was not fit for human consumption. McDonald's had notice of multiple injuries from their practice. McDonald's could have paid her medical bills and been done with it, but decided to press the matter to trial. So a jury of citizens, with full knowledge of all of the facts, made the call. What is so outlandish about that?

carl botterud

aquageek
July 14th, 2004, 11:59 AM
Originally posted by botterud
To Aquageek: I can tell you, however, that cases where there is no insurance tend to resolve much more quickly and efficiently than those where there is an insurance policy. I could explain why, but it would be a treatise.

Please re-read the facts of the case. McDonald's sold coffee at temperature that was not fit for human consumption. McDonald's had notice of multiple injuries from their practice. McDonald's could have paid her medical bills and been done with it, but decided to press the matter to trial.


No treatise needed, it's ultra simple. A company that has no insurance is not subjected to outrageous claims where the plaintiff's bar sues for all they can get. Additionally, the plaintiff's bar knows there's little to no money in these cases so of course they go quickly. A company with no insurance also can't afford to hire quality defense counsel that is provided standard with every insurance policy so it's easier to push them around. From the plaintiff perspective of course they are quick and efficient, no one puts up a fight against ludicrous claims.

I'd also like to know of a single restaurant where you can walk in and chug a cup of coffee fresh from the machine and not burn yourself. I, for one, like my coffee hot and am smart enough to realize this fact and avoid spilling it. Apparently that standard is not universal.

Leonard Jansen
July 14th, 2004, 12:00 PM
Originally posted by botterud

To Leonard and Tom: Please re-read the facts of the case. McDonald's sold coffee at temperature that was not fit for human consumption. McDonald's had notice of multiple injuries from their practice. McDonald's could have paid her medical bills and been done with it, but decided to press the matter to trial. So a jury of citizens, with full knowledge of all of the facts, made the call. What is so outlandish about that?


Carl - I do feel bad that the woman was hurt. However, when I drink tea (I dislike coffee), I like it very hot. I often boil the water, put in the tea bag and then sip it very slowly. It is at least as hot as McD's coffee. But I do NOT put it in my lap. For that matter, I also don't put soda cups, or any other liquid, regardless of temperature, in my lap - and certainly not when driving. Seems to me she made a bad choice and certainly must share some of the responsibility.

True story: I was run over by a car when I was 13. I was on my bike, crossing a small side road behind my friend on his bike, and a car turned, hit me, knocked me off my bike and ran over both my legs. The legs didn't break (Jansen's are built with industrial spec parts), but they were pretty banged up. The guy who hit me was 88 years old, senile, and blind as a bat. To add insult to injury, the guy got out of his car and started screaming at me and kicking me (I couldn't move because of my legs). My friend tackled him and they had a fist fight. (A 13 year old vs an 88 year old in a fight - quite a sight.) When all was said and done, lawyers said it was an easy $500,000 settlement (this is 1968, BTW). Here is what my father and mother decided was the correct settlement:
1) My dad smacked me for riding like an idiot.
2) I got a top of the line bike to replace my old beater.
3) I got all my medical bills paid from the incident and all bills paid up until I was 21.
4) They took the guy's licence away permanently.
5) They dropped the charges against my grandmother. She lived near the accident and when my friend ran to her house to tell her what happened, she (76 years old and all 100 lbs of her) came down like the avenging angel of God and beat up the guy. (She was raised in the tough Irish gettos of NYC in the late 1800's)
6) My mom smacked me for riding like an idiot.

Admittedly, the guy who hit me got off a bit easy, but I still think that they weren't wrong.

-LBJ

Sabretooth Tiger
July 14th, 2004, 12:19 PM
Leonard: Great story and a perfectly reasonable result. Note that the jury in the McDonald's case did assess 20% of the blame to the plaintiff and reduced the compensatory damages from $200,000 to $160,000 accordingly.

Aquageek: You obviously think that you know the answers, but the simple fact of the matter is you're wrong. You ask any experienced lawyer in my field of the impact of insurance has had on the process, and you'll get an education. It appears to me, however, that you're not particularly interested in exploring the facts, so I'll end it there.

aquageek
July 14th, 2004, 12:31 PM
Having handled personal injury and med mal claims for 7 years in multiple states and having hired and paid numerous lawyers, I, as a simple fact, am not wrong. Having multiple family member on both the P&C policy and Brokerage side of insurance with over 30 years of experience, I, as a simple fact, am not wrong.

But, from an employment atty who prefers coffee cold, I will defer to your knowledge. I also handled employment claims, by the way.

aquageek
July 14th, 2004, 12:32 PM
However, I think it's good to know I only have to be responsible for 20% of my stupid actions from now on. I can blame the other 80% on people with deep pockets.

Tom Ellison
July 14th, 2004, 12:32 PM
I think our legal system is one of the finest in the world. Having said that, it is flawed in many areas….In my opinion; this is one of the flawed areas. Common sense tells me NOT to drink boiling coffee right off the stove without sipping it to cool it first, (I drink instant coffee which comes directly out of a boiling pot into a cup with one tea spoon of instant coffee). I would never put hot coffee, regardless of temperature in my lap…NEVER….my stuff down there is much to valuable for that degree (pun) of stupidity.

"So a jury of citizens, with full knowledge of all of the facts, made the call. What is so outlandish about that?"

Nothing if we consider that the jurors listened to the facts regarding O.J. killing his wife and her friend, and I hear the he is playing golf in Florida on a regular basis as opposed to breathing cyanide gas in San Quentin. Justice is not always served…in this case it wasn’t served with the hot coffee (pun again).

mattson
July 14th, 2004, 12:43 PM
Tom, Geek: You are still not paying attention to the facts of the McDonald's case. It is not that the coffee was hot. It was that the coffee was made about 40 degrees too hot, deliberately, with no information to the consumer. (That is not the same as hot vs. lukewarm, which you two keep stating.) The coffee was made that way, with the assumption that the drive-through customer would not drink it until 5 minutes later. (By which time it would be hot, but consumable. BTW, I only order the hot chocolate, and I would like to drink it right away, not wait.)

If they had posted something, like "wait 5 minutes before drinking", or provided an option of coffee that is hot but not scalding, then what you two are saying would be valid. But that is not what happened.

Gareth Eckley
July 14th, 2004, 12:47 PM
By its own corporate standards, McDonald’s sells coffee at 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. A scientist testifying for McDonald’s argued that any coffee hotter than 130 degrees could produce third degree burns. However, a doctor testifying on behalf of Ms. Liebeck noted that it takes less than three seconds to produce a third degree burn at 190 degrees.[4]

During trial, McDonald’s admitted that it had known about the risk of serious burns from its coffee for more than 10 years. From 1982 to 1992, McDonald’s received more than 700 reports of burns from scalding coffee; some of the injured were children and infants. Many customers received severe burns to the genital area, perineum, inner thighs and buttocks.[5]In addition, many of these claims were settled, amounting to more than $500,000.[6]

Tom and others. It is not about HOT coffee. This case was about coffee that is deliberately made to be SCALDING HOT. Spilling it onto your skin can cause 3RD DEGREE BURNS.

McDonalds makes it 60 degrees hotter than it should be, that it is the problem and the issue here.

Spill some Starbucks coffe on yourself and you are irritated, spill McDonalds coffee on yourself and you end up in hospital. Even after the $2.9 million fine they still serve it at this super high temperature, so the punitive damages were not high enough, perhaps $2,9 billion would make them see sense.

Sabretooth Tiger
July 14th, 2004, 12:52 PM
Aha . . . so Aquageek, it sounds like you are, or were, an insurance adjuster. That explains your point of view. As for me, I hung my shingle when I decided that I could no longer tolerate, based on my personal values, doing insurance based defense work. I have seen both sides from the lawyers' perspective, I prefer the pool in which I'm playing now (pun intended).

gull
July 14th, 2004, 12:55 PM
Starbucks heats their steamed milk to 160 degrees (or higher), apparently hot enough to cause third degree burns. They also sell pastries high in carbs and calories, which when consumed in excess (and in the absence of regular exercise) can contribute to obesity. Forget about personal responsibility. Someone has to put a stop to this before more innocent people are harmed.

Tom Ellison
July 14th, 2004, 01:09 PM
Gosh, I thought I got it and stated in my last post that I drink HOT coffee....and explained how I do that in my post. I still think it was a jerk water law suit......

swimpastor
July 14th, 2004, 01:09 PM
I'd like to take personal responsibility for diving off of the blocks at the Y, but they won't let me. They are fully convinced that they know whats best for me.

When Hubert Humphrey died, it was either Eric Sevaried or Roger Mudd who said something that I have always remembered. He (one of them) said, "Humphrey was an 'old school' liberal - one of those who believed that a part of government's role is to help you have access to the opportunities and resources that will enable you to live the life that you decide is best for you. That contrasts with the new liberals, who believe that it is part of government's role to help you have access to the opprotunities and resources that will enable you to live the life that they decide is best for you."

Let me sign the waiver - after all, this is America.

swimpastor
July 14th, 2004, 01:11 PM
Waiver, and indemnity, I should have said. If I hit someone in that second or two when I can't see anything, I'll take responsibility and do the right thing.

aquageek
July 14th, 2004, 01:26 PM
OK, so what about any item that is served hot, like fries or a burger or a chicken nugget, all of which must be above 130 degrees? Is any served hot food product eligible for potential litigation?

Guvnah
July 14th, 2004, 01:36 PM
Pastor -- Consider this: When you are swimming, who is in the ajacent lanes? Can you be sure of their actions?

In an organized workout, the swimmers are supervised, they are all assigned to lanes and (usually) stay there.

Check out the thread a couple of pages down on this board that is titled something like "Working out in a public pool." The gist of the thread is that you can't count on kids staying out of your lane. As I mentioned, I do almost all my swimming at YMCAs. The 5:30 AM slots at most places are reserved for lap swimming only, and maybe (MAYBE) at those times you can count on other swimmers not crossing into your lane. But outside of lap-swim-only times, you have no control over the little kids (or even adults) crossing lanes to chase down a beach ball or get to the other side, etc.

YOU may be prepared to take responsibility for YOUR own actions, but you can bet that if you cream some 6-year-old there will be a lawsuit, and it would most likely be the YMCA that will bear the brunt of the settlement (unless you're a millionaire!)

Racing starts -- especially from a block -- are about the most force-filled activity you'll come across in a lap swim environment. (Well yes, I've seen a guy get his face slashed open by another swimmer doing fly with paddles...) If you slam into some granny crossing your lane while you're swimming -- even if you're at an all-out sprint -- maybe the worst result would be a bruise or a bloody nose. But I shudder to think of the results if you hit her on a start.

I understand where you're coming from. And most likely you would never encounter a problem even if they let you do all the starts you wanted, whenever you wanted. But I hope you are willing to see where ther YMCA is coming from too.

gull
July 14th, 2004, 01:40 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
OK, so what about any item that is served hot, like fries or a burger or a chicken nugget, all of which must be above 130 degrees? Is any served hot food product eligible for potential litigation?

Absolutely! You see, there always has to be someone to blame (preferably someone with deep pockets) for the bad things that happen.

And when the victim is awarded a large sum of money for their pain and suffering, by all means give the personal injury attorney 40%.

Sabretooth Tiger
July 14th, 2004, 01:47 PM
To Geek and Gull: Ah, to lead a life of cliche and hyperbole unencumbered by facts, nuance and critical thinking.

gull
July 14th, 2004, 01:51 PM
What's that like?

Tom Ellison
July 14th, 2004, 01:58 PM
Mr. Moose has critical thinking.....especially when he uses VO2MAX Shampoo....

aquageek
July 14th, 2004, 02:02 PM
gull:

This is why you are so sheltered in your oasis by the sea. 40% is low, especially by class action standards. Check out the vultures trying to locate "victims" for class action suits. Each referring lawyer gets a cut AND the main firm might as well have stumbled upon the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Vulture is hyperbole and I apologize. I should have said parasitic organism. Of course, living in a swamp, I'm familiar with parasites.

Guvnah
July 14th, 2004, 02:14 PM
I'd sure like to see us get away from the individual attacks here.

It doesn't change or solve Pastor's problem. We're not gonna solve the current cultural jump to litigation here. We're not going to settle differing opinions about whether that jump is right or wrong. We're just going to get some people pissed at each other.

BTW, I measured my coffee this AM from my Mr. Coffee maker (used a meat thermometer.) The pot was 165 degrees right after brewing was complete. So I was careful not to hold my cup between my legs. :D

Scansy
July 14th, 2004, 03:17 PM
Originally posted by Tom Ellison
Mr. Moose has critical thinking.....especially when he uses VO2MAX Shampoo....

I was reading all of this and thinking "Wow, not even one VO2Max reference!" I was having withdrawl symptoms! Thanks for giving me my fix Tom!:D

Scansy
July 14th, 2004, 03:21 PM
Originally posted by gull80
Starbucks heats their steamed milk to 160 degrees (or higher), apparently hot enough to cause third degree burns. They also sell pastries high in carbs and calories, which when consumed in excess (and in the absence of regular exercise) can contribute to obesity. Forget about personal responsibility. Someone has to put a stop to this before more innocent people are harmed.

I had dinner the other night at Outback Steakhouse and they gave me this big sharp knife. I think they should keep the knife and have the employees cut the steak into bite sized pieces in the kitchen before bringing it to me. I can't be trusted not to cut myself and they should protect me from myself.

aquageek
July 14th, 2004, 03:38 PM
Originally posted by Scansy
I had dinner the other night at Outback Steakhouse and they gave me this big sharp knife. I think they should keep the knife and have the employees cut the steak into bite sized pieces in the kitchen before bringing it to me. I can't be trusted not to cut myself and they should protect me from myself.

Terrible idea unless they first measure your esophagus and then only cut pieces to the correct size so you will not choke. You cannot be held responsible for your own chewing and swallowing processes. Plus, all bit size pieces must be individually measured to insure none are above 130 degrees.

I also propose a ban on V02Max shampoo. Using it could cause you to be super speedy, misjudge your flip turn and bonk your head on the wall. I know for a fact Ellison produces this stuff in his basement late at night and probably doesn't have product liability insurance.

Scansy
July 14th, 2004, 03:46 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
I also propose a ban on V02Max shampoo. Using it could cause you to be super speedy, misjudge your flip turn and bonk your head on the wall. I know for a fact Ellison produces this stuff in his basement late at night and probably doesn't have product liability insurance.

Heck, I don't need VO2Max shampoo to bonk my head on the wall. I've done that a couple of times without it.:o I've come up short of the wall too (couldn't reach it with my feet to push off).:o :o

aquageek
July 14th, 2004, 03:51 PM
Are you actually saying that you hit your head without V02Max? Well, that can only mean there was too much hydrogen in the pool water. Consider suing the Water and Sewer Authority in your town for this gross oversight. We must go further in our efforts to reassign blame.

Tom Ellison
July 14th, 2004, 03:59 PM
Gosh, don't thank me..... Mr. Moose wrote that post....but, I'll be happy to pass that along....

mattson
July 14th, 2004, 04:02 PM
Originally posted by Guvnah
BTW, I measured my coffee this AM from my Mr. Coffee maker (used a meat thermometer.) The pot was 165 degrees right after brewing was complete. So I was careful not to hold my cup between my legs. :D

I'm also thinking you would have been in for a rude shock at your first sip, if after your test, your next Mr. CoffeeMaker pot was a 195 degrees. :eek:


Originally posted by Scansy
I had dinner the other night at Outback Steakhouse and they gave me this big sharp knife.

Scansy, you should watch more cooking shows. It's not the big sharp knives that are dangerous. It is the dull knives, that require you to push really hard. :)

Tom Ellison
July 14th, 2004, 04:06 PM
You are right about insurance…..the company is called,
“The Uninsured VO2 MAX Shampoo Corporation of America”

Ralph insures Mr. Moose with a large Moose Policy that covers improper road crossings and eating Mrs. Magillacutty’s Garden, but other then that, neither Mr. Moose, Ralph or myself are insured. Hey, they can take the rock if they want…..

gull
July 14th, 2004, 04:29 PM
Originally posted by Scansy
Heck, I don't need VO2Max shampoo to bonk my head on the wall. I've done that a couple of times without it.:o I've come up short of the wall too (couldn't reach it with my feet to push off).:o :o

How many more swimmers must be injured by pool walls before something will be done about this? And don't try to argue that aquatic facilities aren't aware of the problem.

As for Mr. Coffee, why hasn't there been more publicity of the fact that the darn thing produces hot coffee?

Gareth Eckley
July 14th, 2004, 04:49 PM
I am out of here, the point was made, if some want to ignore the extra 60 degrees of temp then so be it !

The nearest McDonalds is an hours drive from here, so my kids are growing up with no idea of McDonalds. This is something that really, really pleases me.

The drawback of this location is that my nearest Starbucks, which i love, is also an hours drive from here. :(

Scansy
July 14th, 2004, 05:52 PM
Originally posted by gull80
How many more swimmers must be injured by pool walls before something will be done about this? And don't try to argue that aquatic facilities aren't aware of the problem.

I think I will start an organization that supports the ideas of pools without walls.

Guvnah
July 14th, 2004, 06:37 PM
Originally posted by Scansy
pools without walls.


Oceans?

:)

Conniekat8
July 14th, 2004, 06:39 PM
Originally posted by Tom Ellison
Under normal circumstances I am not as blunt as I am going to be here, but this really got under my skin.

McDonalds should continue to serve HOT coffee! Anyone STUPID enough to spill hot coffee in their lap has NO ONE to blame but themselves. Law suits such as this are a perfect example of a system run amuck!

But, but, then who's gonna protect me from myself? I don't want that responsibility! ;) :p

KenChertoff
July 14th, 2004, 06:42 PM
Before I post this let me say that, yes, I am a lawyer and, no, I am not a trial lawyer. My practice deals with commercial, non-litigation matters (contracts, intellectual property, software licensing, etc.). I don't know (or, for that matter, care very much) about the facts of particular personal injury suits, like the infamous McDonald's Coffee Case, for the simple reason that, as my law school professors constantly pointed out, one oddball case is not the law.

Now that that's out of the way -- the people yelling about "frivolous lawsuits" might want to consider that 40% of nothing is nothing. Trial lawyers have every incentive to avoid frivolous suits -- they don't get paid for their time or work. Also, "excessive" verdicts can be, and often are, reduced by trial judges and appellate courts.

As for the original issue, the Y (or any pool operator) regardless of litigation, would be irresponsible to allow a pool user to engage in conduct -- i.e., diving without supervision -- that could endanger another user. You may be willing to accept the risk; the kid you land on might have other ideas. It hardly seems fair or reasonable to ask a 17 year old lifeguard to make a judgement about your competence that may affect another user's safety. I would not want to use a facility that doesn't enforce basic safety rules.

Conniekat8
July 14th, 2004, 06:56 PM
Originally posted by botterud

To Leonard and Tom: Please re-read the facts of the case. McDonald's sold coffee at temperature that was not fit for human consumption. McDonald's had notice of multiple injuries from their practice. McDonald's could have paid her medical bills and been done with it, but decided to press the matter to trial. So a jury of citizens, with full knowledge of all of the facts, made the call. What is so outlandish about that?


What's outlandish is that people expect something freshky cooked to be cooled off to an eating temperatire beforeit's served. Wll, let's make all restaurants do that. No more Flambe's, no more sizzling Fajitas, no more hot soup, cause we might serve it jsut two minutes before it'sready to eat, and some dufus will take a mouthfull before they check and see if it's cool enough to eat yet.

I think that's almost as stupid as my ex boyfriend taking a hot pocket out of a microwave and biting into it seconds after it ws done, only to burn his tongue.. and he's done that over and overagain. I mean, how many times does it take people to learn that something that had just been cooked just may be too hot to eat the very second th impulse strikes you to gulp it down.

I think it's very outlandish.You're talking about grown people, not little kids. Now, if they served a happy meal to a 2 year old that is not accompanied by an adult to tell them to eat it slowly... but thern, how many 2-year olds do you ge going abuot on their own. Never mind, don't answer that, I can tell by the McSuits, there must be quite a few.
Hey, I just bit into a burger before unwrapping it,and cut my tongue on the paper... maybe I should sue them for serving my burger wrapped up - wrapped up burgers are not fit for human consumption. :rolleyes:

Bah! :rolleyes:

:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

old dog
July 14th, 2004, 08:02 PM
I was officiating a swim meet last winter. One of the top divers
in the area [very few divers are left due to lack of diving boards]
jumped off the edge of the deck just to get wet. The
depth of the pool was clearly marked on the side of the pool.

The diver was a visitor.

He smashed his face on the "bottom wall" of the pool,
came up all bloody with a broken nose. He subsequently failed to qualify for sectionals. Should he sue the pool operator?

I hope the lawyers will explain if this would or would not be a "frivilous" law suit or what its merits might be.

Scansy
July 14th, 2004, 10:25 PM
Originally posted by KenChertoff


Now that that's out of the way -- the people yelling about "frivolous lawsuits" might want to consider that 40% of nothing is nothing. Trial lawyers have every incentive to avoid frivolous suits -- they don't get paid for their time or work. Also, "excessive" verdicts can be, and often are, reduced by trial judges and appellate courts.



Do they avoid frivolous lawsuits - or do they avoid lawsuits that they can't win? They are not necessarily the same thing.

Scansy
July 14th, 2004, 10:26 PM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
But, but, then who's gonna protect me from myself? I don't want that responsibility! ;) :p

I don't think anyone here wants that responsibility either!;)

Conniekat8
July 15th, 2004, 04:46 AM
Originally posted by Scansy
I don't think anyone here wants that responsibility either!;)

It's an effort in futility anyway ;)

gull
July 15th, 2004, 08:23 AM
Originally posted by Gareth Eckley
I am out of here, the point was made, if some want to ignore the extra 60 degrees of temp then so be it!

60 degrees? C'mon, Gareth. I respect your swimming knowledge but you're off base here.

Since we don't have a Starbucks in our town (hard to believe, I know) my wife bought me an Italian espresso machine for my birthday. The temperature of the coffee is 180 degrees. I steam the milk to 160-170 degrees (which is what Starbucks does--I asked). Why does the machine produce such hot coffee? Is it due to negligence on the part of the manufacturer? Is there some intent to harm the consumer? Or is it because coffee tastes better hot (a fact which has been known for centuries)? I don't hold the cup between my legs, I use a travel mug in the car, I keep small children at a safe distance, and if I burn myself I curse my stupidity and/or clumsiness. Alternatively, I could always file a lawsuit.

aquageek
July 15th, 2004, 09:29 AM
I just went downstairs and my Mr. Coffee is 170 degrees. Being a swamp dweller, I can't afford a fancy I-talian coffee machine. I keep my hot water heater at 120 so I filled up my coffee cup with hot water from the tap and drank it. Yuck, way too cold for coffee. I can't imagine 130 would be any better.

I have come to the following conclusions:

A - If you are a plaintiff atty or a male swimmer from the UK, you prefer luke warm coffee. I take that back, plaintiff atty's prefer hot coffee as it is better for lawsuits. Our British friends also like lukewarm beer so I respect their consistent approach to beverage temparature.

B - New Bern is the only town in America without a Starbucks but gull80 is serving fancy latte's after practice so who cares.

On a totally separate topic, some of you will recall I was roundly ridiculed for not being man enough to swim the 1000 last winter. Well, I'm still not man enough to do it regularly but was forced to in practice today in preparation for an open water swim. For the record, He Who Shall Not Be Named's time is easy to eclipse by a wide margin. I credit Ellison's V02Max shampoo.

gull
July 15th, 2004, 09:56 AM
Originally posted by aquageek
New Bern is the only town in America without a Starbucks but gull80 is serving fancy latte's after practice so who cares.


Actually we do have the Trent River Coffee Co. where Ed, the owner, knows everyone by name and remembers their favorite beverage. Small town America--you gotta love it.

craiglll@yahoo.com
July 15th, 2004, 10:23 AM
I have the same problem for awhile. then I just made sure that I swam when the Aquatic Director wasn't at the pool. I asked the guards & if no one else is in the lanes, they let me use the blocks. It is a weird olicy. and it is suppose to be upheld at all Y's. I've experienced it in almost every Y I've ever swam in. In the 80's the Corporate Y in downtown DC was terrible about it. They almost took my membership away.

Craig J.

Gareth Eckley
July 15th, 2004, 10:30 AM
10 years ago I bought my soon to be wife for her first visit to Britain. I had been living in Vancouver, Canada for a while, which was one of the first cities that Starbucks moved into. We had almost as many Starbucks outlets as Seattle.

So anyway, there I was fluent in the strange "American/Italian" language used in Starbucks to order a drink, and knowing more about coffee beans, blends, brewing methods than most I knew.

We were on a trip through Wales and we stopped in Llandovery as we saw a sign " Ti a Coffi Siop ", which is Welsh for Tea and Coffee shop. We felt that this would be a good stop.

We ordered two coffees at the counter. We than watched, frozen with shock, as two white polysterene cups were placed in front of us, filled with a spoonfull of Nescafe instant coffee, and hot water from a kettle was poured in. Then some Carnation white creamer powder, was added, and stirred with a plastic spoon !

We were asked for £1.00 each ( $2.00). I could not say a word, I meekly handed the money over, and we left. The coffee was, of course, undrinkable and they ended up in the trash.

Thankfully, now in Britain you can get good espresso coffee in most places.

Hey, i drink my beer ( Guiness ) ice cold, thank you.:) ;)

Conniekat8
July 15th, 2004, 05:06 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
For the record, He Who Shall Not Be Named's time is easy to eclipse by a wide margin. I credit Ellison's V02Max shampoo.

That's quite true!

Conniekat8
July 15th, 2004, 05:07 PM
Originally posted by gull80
60 degrees? C'mon, Gareth. I respect your swimming knowledge but you're off base here.

Since we don't have a Starbucks in our town (hard to believe, I know) my wife bought me an Italian espresso machine for my birthday. The temperature of the coffee is 180 degrees. I steam the milk to 160-170 degrees (which is what Starbucks does--I asked). Why does the machine produce such hot coffee? Is it due to negligence on the part of the manufacturer? Is there some intent to harm the consumer? Or is it because coffee tastes better hot (a fact which has been known for centuries)? I don't hold the cup between my legs, I use a travel mug in the car, I keep small children at a safe distance, and if I burn myself I curse my stupidity and/or clumsiness. Alternatively, I could always file a lawsuit.

Can I second what you said? :)

gull
July 15th, 2004, 05:35 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
On a totally separate topic, some of you will recall I was roundly ridiculed for not being man enough to swim the 1000 last winter. Well, I'm still not man enough to do it regularly but was forced to in practice today in preparation for an open water swim. For the record, He Who Shall Not Be Named's time is easy to eclipse by a wide margin. I credit Ellison's V02Max shampoo.

But the question that's on everyone's mind is, were you wearing a clown suit at the time, as promised?

gull
July 15th, 2004, 05:37 PM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
Can I second what you said? :)

Yes you may, but be careful--the attorneys are out there, circling. I think I saw their dorsal fins.

mattson
July 15th, 2004, 05:48 PM
(sigh) I thought I had escaped from this thread, only to have Connie suck me back into it. ;)

Edited: Nevermind what I had posted before. :D This is much better.
http://www.vanfirm.com/mcdonalds-coffee-lawsuit.htm

You'll notice in the article, that most of the jury felt the same way before the trial (when all they heard came from the media), but changed their minds after they heard all of the facts.

I thought this passage was interesting:
"I drink McDonald's coffee because it's hot, the hottest coffee around," says Robert Gregg, a Dallas defense attorney who consumes it during morning drives to the office. "But I've predicted for years that someone's going to win a suit, because I've spilled it on myself. And unlike the coffee I make at home, it's really hot. I mean, man, it hurts."

aquageek
July 15th, 2004, 08:25 PM
Originally posted by gull80
But the question that's on everyone's mind is, were you wearing a clown suit at the time, as promised?

Oh no, I forgot that angle. I'll have to try again. Dang it, gull, you and your memory.

aquageek
July 15th, 2004, 08:31 PM
Originally posted by mattson
...but changed their minds after they heard all of the

Was the jury asleep for the fact that the WOMAN SPILLED IT ON HERSELF? Did a McDonald's employee jump on the roof of her car causing it to spill while wearing a clown suit?

I don't care if McD's serves their coffee the temperature of molten metal on the surface of ten suns, any ole doofus who puts it between their legs while driving should be barred from a lawsuit.

I'll continue to risk life and limb and drink hot coffee. I'll also be sure to keep my lawyer buddy on speed dial in the event I need to blame someone else for my actions.

Phil Arcuni
July 15th, 2004, 10:46 PM
Spilled coffee sounds aquatic related to me.

'over 190 degrees' is pretty damn close to 212 degrees, as hot as the water can get.

If I were selling a product I would be very concerned about accidents that can occur during ordinary use. That is why products have safety features. I would also be aware of what people who buy the product expect from the product. If I am selling coffee at a drive through, I know that drivers, with their attention on something else besides the coffee (like driving) are not expecting scalding hot coffee. I also know that spills will occur. And, if I have been repeatedly told that people have been hurt by my unusually hot coffee, I would understand that scalding hot coffee, cars, and reasonable spillage are a combination that damages people. I would stop selling very hot coffee -- not because the spillage is my fault, but because I am a good citizen and do not want other people to be hurt. To do otherwise would be irresponsible, especially if I sold several hundred thousand cups of coffee a day.

Insurance companies do not make most of their money by taking in more premiums than claims they pay out - instead they invest the premiums and get a return from their large amount (a necessary amount if they need to pay more than they expect) of reserves. If the return on the investments decline, they will make less money and have to answer to their share holders. Thus, when the returns on stocks and bonds decrease, they are forced to raise their premiums to make it up.

This is their right in a competitive market and perfectly reasonable. What is not right is to blame rate increases on the politically acceptable target of trial lawyers. There is *far* more correlation between malpractice insurance rates and bond prices than between malpractice insurance rates and the net cost of trial judgements.

swimpastor
July 16th, 2004, 09:09 AM
A previous poster wrote...

"As for the original issue, the Y (or any pool operator) regardless of litigation, would be irresponsible to allow a pool user to engage in conduct -- i.e., diving without supervision -- that could endanger another user. You may be willing to accept the risk; the kid you land on might have other ideas. It hardly seems fair or reasonable to ask a 17 year old lifeguard to make a judgement about your competence that may affect another user's safety. I would not want to use a facility that doesn't enforce basic safety rules."

Last weekend at one of the Y's that won't let me dive off the blocks, in the 'family fun' pool next to the lap pool, I saw a 12 year old ram into another 12 year at the bottom of the water slide - one of several now in Y's in this area. For a second I was concerned that a serious injury had just been dealt. Is that activity, the rules of use for which we expect 17 year olds to make judgements, monitor and regulate, inherently safer than having a trained and conscientious adult use a starting block. To think so in my eyes would be ludicrous hypocrisy.

AND, if we can't depend on the 17 year olds to make judgements about safety then why on God's green earth are we paying them at all?

gull
July 16th, 2004, 09:33 AM
Our YMCA has the same rule. We are allowed to dive off the blocks only during our coached workouts. Personally I see no problem with a Masters swimmer practicing starts during the lap swimming time provided the pool is not crowded and he (or she) exercises good judgment.

Of course, he (or she) should not do so while holding a scalding hot cup of coffee.

mattson
July 16th, 2004, 09:53 AM
Originally posted by aquageek
Was the jury asleep for the fact that the WOMAN SPILLED IT ON HERSELF?

Geek, please read the article that I linked to. You'll see that the jury did hold the plantiff responsible for the spill itself (and reduced McDonald's liability). And I hope you have checked out Phil's response, which is (I think) the position of those arguing with you. (There are numerous frivilous law suits that you can ridicule. We just think that the elected poster child is not such a case, once you look at the facts instead of reacting to the spin. If the case was the same as the urban legend, then I would agree with you.)

SwimPastor may be onto something. Maybe someone can come up with a set of guidelines that your average high school teenager (with limited lifeguarding or swimming experience) could follow, that would allow them to decide whether the swimmer is an experienced master's swimmer, instead of an injury-prone yahoo. (Somehow, that cholesterol-drug commercial with the dude belly-flopping comes to mind. :) )

aquageek
July 16th, 2004, 10:38 AM
I did read the article and am shellshocked that a person in car with a cup of hot coffee between her legs is only given 20% of the blame. Why not sue the car manufacturere because the vehicle is not fit for consumption of hot coffee as it can teeter and totter? What about assumption of the risk?

I agree this is an example of the worst, most silly suit out there. But, there are plenty of examples out there. There are people who sue when getting hit in the head with a baseball at a baseball game, people who sue when their kids don't make the sports team, etc. I once had a case where a fellow sued the golf course because another golfer hit him with a ball on an errant drive. It's out of control these days.

mattson
July 16th, 2004, 12:31 PM
No Geek, some of us are arguing that this case has merit, not that it is an example of the worst.

The case was not about spilling a beverage, but the consequences of the spilling.

What most people here (like you) are saying, is that if you have an accident, spilling your coffee, you can expect to get burned. No argument about that. I'm saying (and the jury came to believe) is that a 1st degree burn is reasonable (and what most people have experienced), a 3rd degree burn is unexpected and unreasonable. (I've never had a 3rd degree burn, and can count the 2nd degree burns on one hand.)

Did you ever see the movie "Class Action"? The suit was not to blame the car manufacturer for the accidents. The suit was about the car blowing up in crashes that should have left the occupants shaken but unhurt. (And the car makers were aware of the problem, hid the fact, and did not change their practices.)

Guvnah
July 16th, 2004, 12:39 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
Was the jury asleep for the fact that the WOMAN SPILLED IT ON HERSELF? ...

Something that I doubt was ever investigated or addressed in this lawsuit: Maybe the driver was herky-jerky in his skills and not very smooth on the brake or clutch, and that's what caused the coffee to spill.

Personally I don't drink anything in a car that isn't relatively spill proof -- coffee mug with cover, soda in a can (very small opening), to-go cup with a lid, etc. Cold or hot. I've learned my lesson by spilling too many things in containers with wide openings -- even just going around a corner or starting/stopping. It's a simple matter of fluid dynamics and Newton's laws of motion that we learned in high school physics.

And I know that coffee to-go from McD's comes with a lid, but the story says that she took it off to add sugar and creamer. My take is that the vendor dispensed the beverage with an appropriate lid. The customer's decision to remove that lid in a moving car was solely her own, and beyond the vendor's control. (Kind of like the guy who used a power mower to trim his hedges and ended up cutting off some fingers -- and successfully sued.)

gull
July 16th, 2004, 12:51 PM
I assume the manufacturer of the mower knew the blades could remove someone's fingers yet did nothing to correct the problem.

aquageek
July 16th, 2004, 01:08 PM
Originally posted by mattson

The case was not about spilling a beverage, but the consequences of the spilling.


This makes no sense. How can something be about the consequences of spilling if something is not spilled in the first place? We aren't talking skin sloughing acid here, this is coffee, intended to be served and consumed hot.

What about hot fries? You can't eat a fry fresh from the fryer, same with a Big Mac, too hot. What if this lady had dumped her super sized fry container on her lap and burned herself?

The avoidance of personal responsibility, the new American way.

KenChertoff
July 16th, 2004, 01:09 PM
Originally posted by swimpastor



Last weekend at one of the Y's that won't let me dive off the blocks, in the 'family fun' pool next to the lap pool, I saw a 12 year old ram into another 12 year at the bottom of the water slide - one of several now in Y's in this area. For a second I was concerned that a serious injury had just been dealt. Is that activity, the rules of use for which we expect 17 year olds to make judgements, monitor and regulate, inherently safer than having a trained and conscientious adult use a starting block. To think so in my eyes would be ludicrous hypocrisy.

AND, if we can't depend on the 17 year olds to make judgements about safety then why on God's green earth are we paying them at all?

An adult going off a starting block with the full force of gravity carries more force than a 12 year old half his size, who's being slowed by the friction of the slide -- many times more, in fact. It's basic high school physics. In fact, diving injuries can -- and do -- cause paralyzing or even fatal spinal injuries. The fact that it's evidently difficult for lifeguards to monitor the water slide, which is far less dangerous, seems like a good reason to me not to put them in the position of monitoring diving during public lap swim hours.

As for depending on 17 year old (or even 40 year old) lifeguards to make those judgments, here's how it would work (or not work) in practice:

You show up and tell the lifeguard you're an experienced masters swimmer -- as far as he knows you could be Mark Spitz or you could be Lipitor Dude. But let's say Lifeguard Kid knows you and there's an empty lane, so he let's you dive. But that means he has to watch that no other swimmer sees an empty lane and, not realizing what you're doing, decides to take it -- right while you're going off the block. So Lifeguard Kid has to focus on your lane, to make sure you don't land on another swimmer. Meanwhile, Lipitor Dude shows up and decides he'd like to try a few dives. Now, Lifeguard Kid knows Lipitor Dude is incompetent (he's seen the commercial :) ), but Liptor Dude, like many incompetent people, thinks he's Mark Spitz, Gary Hall (Sr. and Jr.) and Michael Phelps all rolled into one. So now Lifeguard Kid has to explain (argue, really) to Lipitor Dude why he won't let him dive, when he let's you dive.

While all this is going on, he's distracted from watching the rest of the pool -- which is what we're paying him for.

Notice I'm not talking about liability, lawsuits or spilled coffee -- I don't care about that. The issue is just a matter of common sense safety.

Gareth Eckley
July 16th, 2004, 01:10 PM
It seems that this argument comes down to 2 camps.

A - Those who believe that that McDonalds bears no responsibility for the 3rd degree burns suffered by the 80 year old lady and that the temperature of the coffee is of no relevance. In addition that the history of other cases of spills causing burns should be ignored.

A - "It was her fault for being stupid, that she got 3rd degree burns"

B - Those that feel that McDonalds did not exercise due care in serving scalding hot coffee at a temperature that would cause 3rd degree burns within 3 seconds. Already knowing that people could spill this on themselves, had in the past, and that the temperature was unsafe.

B - " Yes it was her fault that she spilt coffee on herself, BUT that the company knew that this could happen AND that the coffee was served at an unsafe temperature. "

In my business life, and also when i am coaching kids, it is my responsibility to ensure that my actions or inaction does not cause an uneccessary degree of risk to others.

McDonalds have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their customers. In this case their inaction in not lowering the coffee temperature, despite previous cases, was negligent in this duty.

The 80 year old lady deserved to have messed up clothes and some skin redness from the coffee spill, she did not deserve to have skin grafts and 3rd degree burns.

aquageek
July 16th, 2004, 01:27 PM
Comical.

First of all, in the US, if you are a coach, you know that every kid on your team has signed a waiver of liability for you, the facility and the organization. Maybe McDs should require customers to acknowledge that the hot products they serve can burn a person. If you won't sign the waiver you eat uncooked nuggets and cold coffee, no ice, you could choke on that. What if the ice were too cold and stuck to your tongue?

McDs has no duty to walk you to your car, take the lid off and insure no one jiggles your legs causing spillage.

I'd like you to tell me one single food product that is served hot that cannot burn you.

And we wonder why we can't dive off blocks, off diving boards or play sharks and minnows anymore (the greatest pool game ever invented in the dive well).

swimpastor
July 16th, 2004, 01:28 PM
Mon ami Messeur Chertoff,

I'm almost inclined to take your comments personally, but won't. I have not been talking about Saturday Afternoon open swimming - rather I have been talking about times reserved for adult lap swimming when the youngsters are not even allowed in the pool. An argument analogous to yours would suggest that giving someone a driver's license means we have opened ourselves to drivers going 160 miles an hour whenever and wherever they want to. We ameliorate the risk of auto accidents not by outlawing cars and drivers but rather by establishing traffic laws. When those laws are adjudged by our society as being too stringent, we change them (hence we no longer have an across the Board 55 mph speed limit). I am suggesting that we can craft a set of rules for qualified and trained adult swimmers using starting blocks at appropriate times and places that ameliorates the risk to others that y'all are so concerned about. For example, let me demonstrate my competency to a certified team coach once, and then be on a list of people who are approved to use a designated starting block during designated times in accordance with designated rules, rather than only be allowed to use the blocks when that coach who is required to be present should actually be necessarily more concerned about the kids who are part of the program she is hired to direct and oversee.

KenChertoff
July 16th, 2004, 01:44 PM
I'm talking about adult lap swim periods (why would you think I wasn't?). I'm also describing what actually happened when my pool tried setting aside two lanes one night a week for practice springboard diving. The instructor (a 35 year old coach) assigned just to monitor those lanes had to spend all his time shooing away ADULTS who decided to swim in those lanes and arguing with incompetent divers. Needless to say, they stopped doing it -- imagine if a lifeguard who also had to watch the rest of the pool, had that responsiblity.

Guvnah
July 16th, 2004, 02:01 PM
Originally posted by swimpastor

We ameliorate the risk of auto accidents not by outlawing cars and drivers but rather by establishing traffic laws. ... I am suggesting that we can craft a set of rules for qualified and trained adult swimmers using starting blocks at appropriate times and places that ameliorates the risk to others that y'all are so concerned about.



It seems to me that you have encountered the designated "traffic laws" at your YMCA regarding block starts.

1) Can't do it at all except under appropriate times/conditions.

2) Appropriate times/conditions are during formal team/coached workouts.

All the rest of this thread contains little more than people's speculations about why those "traffic laws" exist.

Leonard Jansen
July 16th, 2004, 02:21 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
Comical.
play sharks and minnows anymore (the greatest pool game ever invented in the dive well).

Since I didn't learn to swim until I was 39, this is a mystery to me. Please describe it.

-LBJ

Gareth Eckley
July 16th, 2004, 02:36 PM
"Comical.

First of all, in the US, if you are a coach, you know that every kid on your team has signed a waiver of liability for you, the facility and the organization."

I am confused, does this mean that as long as someone has signed a waiver, that you have NO responsibility to take ALL reasonable steps to ensure their safety ?

Waiver or no waiver, if you are reckless and allow or do not stop dangerous behaviour, you will and deserve to be sued if someone in your care gets hurt.

With the McDonalds case it is all about the temperature it was served at. There was no case if the coffee was only hot , not scalding hot.:mad:

Yardbird
July 16th, 2004, 03:19 PM
Wow... it's been a long time. As I recall, the players (best with at least 10 or so) pick a shark or two who are in the middle of the pool, the rest of the players are minnows who start at one side and have to swim to the other side through the sharks without getting eaten (tagged.) If tagged, they become sharks. The surviving minnows must make another pass through the growing feeding frenzy until everyone is a shark. Then start over. At least I think that's how it went.

Leonard, did you ever play Marco/Polo? ;)

mattson
July 16th, 2004, 03:22 PM
Comical is failing to see the difference between a 1st degree "hot fries" burn, and a 3rd degree "hospital and skin graft" burn.

These passages in the article are why I think the temperature *does* make a difference.

"Before trial, McDonald's gave the opposing lawyer its operations and training manual, which says its coffee must be brewed at 195 to 205 degrees and held at 180 to 190 degrees..."

"...it takes less than three seconds to produce a third-degree burn at 190 degrees, about 12 to 15 seconds at 180 degrees and about 20 seconds at 160 degrees."

Their coffee was brewed 20 degrees hotter than the highest temperature listed in this thread (180 in the pot, by AquaGeek). A 10 degree drop in temperature increased reaction time (to avoid 3rd degree burns, let alone painful 2nd degree burns) from < 3 seconds, to over 12. (This would give you a chance to get to cool water, or to take off soaked clothing.)

I'll try to stop posting here. :) Geek has already said that McDonald's could serve molten lead coffee, and liquid nitrogren beverages, and he would have no problem with that.

Howard
July 16th, 2004, 03:28 PM
When we played sharks and minnows, the minnows were safe as long as they were underwater but it was fair for the sharks to drag the minnows to the surface using any means possible. It was a very rough and very fun game.

aquageek
July 16th, 2004, 03:28 PM
I don't understand your continued insistence that this woman deserved to collect damages and that someone deserves to be sued. Being sued isn't a matter of deserving.

I can't undstand how McDs was supporting dangerous behavior. Wouldn't the dangerous behavior be drinking coffee in a car?

I guess it comes down to a matter of believing in personal responsibility or looking for a free handout.

Sharks and minnows - one person in the water aka shark. Everyone else on the deck aka minnows. Have to swim from one side to the other without getting tagged and before the shark touches the wall you are on. I'm sure there are regional variations. If you get tagged you are now the shark.

Howard
July 16th, 2004, 03:29 PM
I should also say that I really liked to play dodgeball as well.

aquageek
July 16th, 2004, 03:36 PM
mattson:

Being a Southerner I am familiar with the process of frying. You do realize that in order to fry potatos, they have to be much, much greater a temperature (350 range) than what McDs serves coffee at? So, we can now look for the hot fry suit soon.

Wonder why most people know not to put a hot fry in their mouth but it requires advanced education to realize you should not put cooler coffee between your legs while driving?

Bob McAdams
July 16th, 2004, 03:48 PM
Originally posted by KenChertoff
You show up and tell the lifeguard you're an experienced masters swimmer -- as far as he knows you could be Mark Spitz or you could be Lipitor Dude.

Not really. None of us would object if the pool were requiring some sort of official certification (and maybe even that we sign a USMS-style liability waiver) before using the blocks. It would be pretty easy to issue each certified swimmer some sort of tag to put on his/her swimsuit to let the lifeguard know at a glance that he/she is certified.


But let's say Lifeguard Kid knows you and there's an empty lane, so he let's you dive. But that means he has to watch that no other swimmer sees an empty lane and, not realizing what you're doing, decides to take it -- right while you're going off the block. So Lifeguard Kid has to focus on your lane, to make sure you don't land on another swimmer.

You seem to be forgetting that the starting blocks are in the deep end of the pool, but pool rules require that swimmers enter from the shallow end. Even if a swimmer is going off the blocks while another swimmer is entering the same lane, there's no danger because they are separated by the length of the pool.


While all this is going on, he's distracted from watching the rest of the pool -- which is what we're paying him for.

Well, at my pool last night, the pool was at one point divided into:

1/2 pool - open swim (with diving board open)

2 lanes - family lane swim (only open to people with family memberships

1 lane - teen lane swim (only open to teens)

Why is it that a lifeguard (there was only one) can monitor each of these three areas of the pool to make sure nobody enters one of them who isn't supposed to, but can't monitor one lane where somebody is doing practice starts to make sure that anyone who enters the lane lets the other swimmer know he is there before he starts swimming laps?

Bob McAdams
July 16th, 2004, 03:55 PM
Originally posted by Guvnah
It seems to me that you have encountered the designated "traffic laws" at your YMCA regarding block starts.

1) Can't do it at all except under appropriate times/conditions.

2) Appropriate times/conditions are during formal team/coached workouts.

All the rest of this thread contains little more than people's speculations about why those "traffic laws" exist.

Did you read the original post? The real "traffic laws" at the pool are:

1) Can't do it at all except under appropriate times/conditions.

2) There are no appropriate times/conditions.

And that is simply unacceptable for a skill competitive swimmers need to practice for meets!

mattson
July 16th, 2004, 03:58 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
Being a Southerner I am familiar with the process of frying. You do realize that in order to fry potatos, they have to be much, much greater a temperature (350 range) than what McDs serves coffee at? So, we can now look for the hot fry suit soon.

You can also make fried ice cream in 350 degree oil, with most of the ice cream still frozen.

Geek, are you aware that the air in your oven could get as hot as 450 degrees? Madness, madness I tell you!

But when you open your oven door (to look inside), you expect a wave of hot air. If there is steam inside, you might even expect to get a mild 1st degree burn. You would not expect 3rd degree burns. (On the other hand, a pressure cooker can give you 3rd degree burns, which is why there are a lot of safety precautions to make it difficult to open one by accident.)

If you spill hot french fries in your lap, you can brush them off and likely not get burned. You spill your coffee on your arm at home (because the kids run by and hit your chair), you have time to take off your shirt and run cold water. Maybe a 1st degree burn. You take a 195 degree liquid and dump it on your arm sleeve, you won't have time to avoid a 3rd degree burn.

Maybe you feel that, for a speeding offense, there is no difference between a $100 fine and serving 20 years in a maximum security prison, because the person was stupid enough to break the law and deserves *any* punishment. (I would argue the latter is way out of proportion to the crime.) If that's how you feel, fine. But you have a habit of implying that other people are idiots for seeing things differently than you.

Conniekat8
July 16th, 2004, 04:04 PM
Originally posted by gull80
Yes you may, but be careful--the attorneys are out there, circling. I think I saw their dorsal fins.

Yaaa, I noticed.
I think they're just wanting to test their 'am I good at arguing the case' skills.
Well, I caan se their point, and I can see a lot of people could side with them... I just can't, because it goes against my fundamental belief of what belongs into 'personal responsibility'.

Ya know, I don't blame the chocolate makers when I take the easy way out and give in to the urge of eating too much chocolate. No matter how many chocolate covered strawberries they put .... in ... front .... of ....me.

Guvnah
July 16th, 2004, 04:16 PM
Originally posted by Bob McAdams
Did you read the original post? The real "traffic laws" at the pool are:

1) Can't do it at all except under appropriate times/conditions.

2) There are no appropriate times/conditions.

And that is simply unacceptable for a skill competitive swimmers need to practice for meets!

From the original post:

but none of the Y's where I swim will let me use the blocks - saying that a national Y policy prohibits anyone from using the blocks unless a team/club coach is on the deck.


I think my wording is more accurate.

But that's really beside the point. Even if the pool in question NEVER allows it, then that's the "traffic laws" that prevail there! (And then why bother even having blocks at that pool at all?)

aquageek
July 16th, 2004, 04:23 PM
Originally posted by mattson
Geek, are you aware that the air in your oven could get as hot as 450 degrees? Madness, madness I tell you!

You spill your coffee on your arm at home (because the kids run by and hit your chair), you have time to take off your shirt and run cold water.

If the over makers are aware their products are too hot for human consumption, should we also sue them when they produce a fine hot pie? So, we are allowed to understand ovens are hot but not coffee?

Would you sue McDs or your kids if they caused you to spill your coffee? I suspect McDs because we have to hold other's accountable.

It is also not stupidity to spill stuff. It is stupid to drink coffee in a car if you can't control it. By the way, coffee is hot and burns, apparently bears repetition.

Conniekat8
July 16th, 2004, 04:45 PM
Originally posted by Gareth Eckley
"Comical.

First of all, in the US, if you are a coach, you know that every kid on your team has signed a waiver of liability for you, the facility and the organization."

I am confused, does this mean that as long as someone has signed a waiver, that you have NO responsibility to take ALL reasonable steps to ensure their safety ?

Waiver or no waiver, if you are reckless and allow or do not stop dangerous behaviour, you will and deserve to be sued if someone in your care gets hurt.

With the McDonalds case it is all about the temperature it was served at. There was no case if the coffee was only hot , not scalding hot.:mad:

Well, then following that logic, knowing that eating in a car and not paying attention to traffic had caused many accidents, and occasion lethal ones, perhaps all companies that have a drive-through shuold be sued to stop them, because they support the dangerous behavior of eating while driving... and they do know that most people that purchase food in a drive through will start consuming it... pretty much as quickly as they can unpack it.
You know, the potential harm of a traffic accident is much bigger then even a 3rd degree burn on a thigh or arm.

What bugs me abouthe whole concept is that we are very wiling to accept much higher risks without giving them much thuoght (in spite of warnings about the danger of not paying attention to the road...)
I just don't believe in the concept of, oh, I got hurt doing something that I shouldn't have been doing in the first place, but now that I hurt myself, I wanna sue the maker of a product that i hurt myself with, cause they didn't acount for what I might do, and failed to protect me.

So, couple of people here say that as a maker or a seller of a product taht can be misused you'd be aware of people's use of it, and try to make it as safe as possible... So, can you please explain to me why it's such a problem that the coffe was served hotter than expected, and caused a burn... or even a few dozen of them... But the fact that people get into accidents eating in the car and not paying attention to the road much more often is a non issue? Why the double standard? Where do you draw the line?
Is it okay that you bite into a burge, block yuor view o the road and get into an accident? But if the burger was hotter than you expected and, then you sue the burger maker for your crash? What if the burger was too cold and you gotticked offabout it and then got into an accident because you were too busy being ticked off and didn't notice a pedestrian on the road?
I mean, you could argue the case that if the burger was done properly,you wouldn't have been ticked off, and therfore yur diminished capacity is the burger-makers fault.

I don't agree that 80% of the burden belongs to McD. I'd say it's more like 10%.
- When you get hot liquid from a restaurant, especialy coffe or tea, I expect them to be closeto boiling hot, and treatthem with that amount of caution.
- Also, I expect to spill drinks when driving a car.
Therefore, anything that would be even remotely uncomfortable (not to mention dagerous) doesnt' go in the car with me.

So, the McD's fault amouts to, ouch, the coffe was hotter than i thought it would be. Damn, I took a risk, and ended up on the losing end this time. I was buyng coffee from them frequently, I'd know it's hotter than others, and treat it that way.
I would never ina milion years blame McD for my taking a bad risk. Had i not taken that risk the coffe temperature would not matter.
had the coffe been cooler, instead of a third degree bur, I'd have a second degree burn or a first, or just pants that look like I had peed myself and a smelly stain in my car.
I just can't see how McDonalds gets the 80% of the blame.
What might be more fair would to offer to cover the cost of medical treatment of a kind of a burn a 160 degree coffe would do vs. 180 degree coffe - or whatever the temperature differential is between the average with dive through's vs. mc Donalds.

Scansy
July 16th, 2004, 05:14 PM
God bless you Connie for posting the rant I didn't have time to type! (Although in the end I had time to read it!)

I wonder if the woman had got a to go coffee (at 180degrees) from a small local diner and spilled it on her - would she have sued. The local diner would not have the deep pockets that McDonalds has. That does seem to be a prerequisite for a lawsuite - make sure there is deep pockets to pull the money from.

Bob McAdams
July 16th, 2004, 05:19 PM
Originally posted by Guvnah
From the original post:

but none of the Y's where I swim will let me use the blocks - saying that a national Y policy prohibits anyone from using the blocks unless a team/club coach is on the deck.


I think my wording is more accurate.

Did you miss the part that said:

"there is no Masters program in the county where I live, or in any of the immediately adjacent counties. (There are several age group programs.)"

Admitedly, I oversimplified the "traffic laws". So let's be more accurate:

1) Can't do it at all except under appropriate times/conditions.

2) Appropriate times/conditions are during formal team/coached workouts.

3) There are no formal team/coached workouts for adults.

But since Joe is an adult, 2 and 3, taken together, mean that:

There are no appropriate times/conditions.


But that's really beside the point. Even if the pool in question NEVER allows it, then that's the "traffic laws" that prevail there!

Did you think somebody in this thread disagreed that these are the rules at his pool? The problem is that Joe needs to practice his starts. That's the main point! And, as several posters have noted, there are ways that the pool could address any safety/liability concerns it might have while allowing Joe to get the practice he needs.

aquageek
July 16th, 2004, 05:36 PM
Good post, Connie. I like the part about cold burgers causing accidents.

I am now very concerned about consuming my daily power bar on the way to the pool, along with my piping hot, luxuriously steaming coffee. That combo could be deadly but since not produced at McDonalds I feel I am missing out on a potential money making endeavor.

mattson
July 16th, 2004, 05:36 PM
Originally posted by Scansy
I wonder if the woman had got a to go coffee (at 180degrees) from a small local diner and spilled it on her - would she have sued.

At 180 degrees, she would have had a fighting chance to avoid 3rd degree burns, as opposed to 190 degrees, where she had virtually none.


Originally posted by aquageek
If the over makers are aware their products are too hot for human consumption, should we also sue them when they produce a fine hot pie? So, we are allowed to understand ovens are hot but not coffee?

Geek, have you read your pie box? Last time I checked, it states that contents will be (too) hot, and it tells you how long to wait before consumption. There is nothing on a McDonald's cup that warns that contents are 10-40 degrees hotter than any other hot beverage you would normally get. (You keep equating 1st and 3rd degree burns.)

Connie, good for you, that you take more precautions in more dangerous situations. I also agree that there needs to be more personal accountability in general. The problem is when the situation becomes more dangerous without your knowledge. Precautions that are reasonable for a normal hot beverage, become inadequate at 190 degrees.

Let's try a metaphor. AquaG is practicing his dives, knows how to do a safe start into a 4 ft. deep pool. The markings on the side of the pool say "Shallow water" and "No diving without instructor". Well, it turns out one lane is only 2 ft deep, but because of an optical illusion, looked to be the same depth as the other lanes. No markings or signs to distinguish this special lane from the others. AG cracks his skull and spends time in the hospital. I come along and say, "AG was stupid, he knew the dangers of diving into a shallow pool". Connie comes along, and says that she always slides into the pool, so it is AG's fault for diving at all. Other people come along, and gripe that they won't let anyone start in any of the lanes, because of AG. Would you agree with all of this? Or would you complain (to management) that there should have been some sign that this lane was much shallower than the others?

Guvnah
July 16th, 2004, 05:42 PM
Originally posted by Bob McAdams
[B]Did you miss the part that said:

"there is no Masters program in the county where I live, or in any of the immediately adjacent counties. (There are several age group programs.)"



Perhaps it's time to start a Masters program.

Or find a non-YMCA pool.

LindsayNB
July 16th, 2004, 06:41 PM
Originally posted by swimpastor
I want to work on my starts, but none of the Y's where I swim will let me use the blocks - saying that a national Y policy prohibits anyone from using the blocks unless a team/club coach is on the deck.
...
Yes, perhaps a coach would be valuable to me in this regard, but I'm not looking for a coach - I need and want a cooperative facility. The age groups' program schedules are not conducive to my schedule, and besides, the age group coaches already have enough on their hands during those times with lanes full of kids working their programs. I also am not excited about having to dodge those kids to do the work I need to do.


Originally posted by aquageek
First off, say three hail Mary's and absolve yourself of such venemous thoughts regarding Ys.

Secondly, you do indeed live adjacent to counties with Masters programs where you can dive off blocks until you are defrocked for activity unbecoming a pastor. There are a ton of practice times around the greater Charlotte area. Send me a private note and we'll get you all happy again.


It seems like swimpastor has three choices: arrange to swim during supervised age group workouts; arrange to have a coach on deck during his preferred swim slot; swim with one of the Masters programs in the greater Charlotte area. The wording of his post seems to indicate that options are available but he doesn't like them, which is different from having no options.

I do sympathize completely, I have really limited opportunities to practice dives, and it shows.

aquageek
July 16th, 2004, 06:54 PM
mattson:

I take responsibility for my own actions. If I'm fool enough to dive before testing the depth, it's on me, not pool management. I know much better than to dive in any water without first testing the depth. Seems like common sense, kind of like not putting hot coffee between your legs while driving, huh? Lack of common sense is a good deal these days - you can get a big judgement.

Enjoy your cold coffee, I'm taking mine hot, buyer beware!

Who would you sue for an optical illusion - God?

mattson
July 16th, 2004, 07:12 PM
BTW, in my pool thought experiment, you had tested the pool depth in some of the other lanes, but not all of them, before diving in. Just enough to let your common sense know how safe it was to dive into 4 ft of water.


Originally posted by aquageek
I take responsibility for my own actions.

Let's push this one a little further. After your accident (which you didn't sue the pool management about), you become pool manager. You see person after person diving into that one special lane (without checking the depth). Despite the fact that you have had first hand knowledge of diving into that lane, despite the fact that you've seen dozens of people make exactly the same mistake, you say nothing to the swimmers. In fact, you point out to other people how deep the other lanes are (without mentioning the one exception). Are you responsible for your (in)action?

Personal responsibility comes with information. Do you think that she had it in her lap, because in her past experience with other (normal temperature) hot coffee, her common sense said it doesn't cause any real damage if you spill it? If this woman knew that this particular coffee would cause hospitalization if you spilled it in your lap (which McDonald's knew happened to others before her), do you think she would still do it? (I don't know, maybe she would have. But if you check the trial details, the average consumer had no idea how much of a difference those extra 10-30 degrees made.)

KenChertoff
July 16th, 2004, 07:48 PM
Swim Pastor and Bob McAdams:

I think its fine if a facility chooses to set aside a lane or two for practice diving and they can make it work without endangering other swimmers; I'd join it. But, based on my pool's experience with springboard diving, I'm skeptical that they can and I don't want to see the burden of making it work put on a lifeguard who also has to watch the rest of the pool.

In any event, I wouldn't criticize a facility that doesn't choose to do that. I don't think there's any right (legal or moral) to *demand* that a Y (or any other facility) compromise a safety policy that's meant to protect all users and I don't think there's any legal or moral right to impose the risks that I'm willing to take on another user. "Liability" isn't the point -- the risk is real, liability or not. If the only reason to consider other people's safety is fear of lawsuits, lawsuits will be necessary.

And, once again, I wouldn't want to use any facility that's lax about enforcing safety rules.

To quote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, "Your freedom to swing your arm ends where my nose begins."

That, I hope, is the last I have to say on this thread :).

aquageek
July 16th, 2004, 08:12 PM
We can play "what-ifs" all day long. What's the old expression - If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day you'd win a big judgement for your own stupidity, or something like that.

I don't know what this woman was thinking. I suspect at age 80, she might have had hot cup or two of coffee before in her life. She might have even been in a car before. And, I suspect, she might even know coffee is hot.

By the way, the average consumer knows hot coffee burns. The below average consumer wins big lawsuits.

Bottom line - some avoid taking responsiblity, some accept it. It's simple, chose one.

KenChertoff
July 16th, 2004, 08:28 PM
Originally posted by Bob McAdams
You seem to be forgetting that the starting blocks are in the deep end of the pool, but pool rules require that swimmers enter from the shallow end. Even if a swimmer is going off the blocks while another swimmer is entering the same lane, there's no danger because they are separated by the length of the pool.

Not at my pool -- there's no "shallow" end and the bulkheads are opposite the blocks. We enter the pool at the starting block end. Besides, have you never seen a swimmer cross the lane lines?



Why is it that a lifeguard (there was only one) can monitor each of these three areas of the pool to make sure nobody enters one of them who isn't supposed to, but can't monitor one lane where somebody is doing practice starts to make sure that anyone who enters the lane lets the other swimmer know he is there before he starts swimming laps?

You forget that in my hypothetical the lifeguard was busy "explaining" to the Lipitor Dude why he couldn't dive. I would think that that would be a significant distraction. Anyway, it seems to me that a clueless swimmer getting in the way of someone diving off the block is a much more serious matter than a teenager swimming in the adults' lane.

(I know I said my previous post was my last in this thread, but I couldn't stop myself :) )

SWinkleblech
July 17th, 2004, 12:34 AM
Lesson to my one year old:
Hot-burny

Our society is so sue happy anymore it seems no one can take responsibility for themselve and their own actions. It is always someone elses fault.
As a certified pool manager I learned the many dangers of swimming pools. It is hard to find diving boards in pools anymore because insurance is too high. Which was caused by the many lawsuits.
I could never understand why pools are held responsible for a childs drowning when a child climbed over a 8 foot fence to get into the pool. Where is the responsibility of the parents who had no idea what their six or seven year olds where up to.
This is what has led to the rules that many pools need to inforce. To prevent getting sued. You may say I will claim responsiblilty but what about the next guy who is just as good a swimmer as you and claims they will hold themselves responsible. You may not sue but the next guy just might get his 100 million for hitting his head on the bottom of the pool.
I do think if you get to know the director and discuss the issue with the director you might be able to work something out.

gull
July 17th, 2004, 07:10 AM
To paraphrase Lance Armstrong, it's not about the coffee. The point is that we as a society would rather assign blame to someone else than accept personal responsibility for our actions and their consequences. And sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Now I'm going to finish my (180 degree) latte.

Leonard Jansen
July 17th, 2004, 08:39 AM
Originally posted by Kim Tarnower
Wow... it's been a long time. As I recall, the players (best with at least 10 or so) pick a shark or two who are in the middle of the pool, the rest of the players are minnows who start at one side and have to swim to the other side through the sharks without getting eaten (tagged.) If tagged, they become sharks. The surviving minnows must make another pass through the growing feeding frenzy until everyone is a shark. Then start over. At least I think that's how it went.

Leonard, did you ever play Marco/Polo? ;)

Sharks & Minnows sounds like something I can do with my nephews (6 & 10) when I visit them in 2 weeks, although we may have to improvise as we'll be in a bay/ocean situation. Thanks.

No to Marco Polo. Remember that I couldn't swim until age 39. Sigh - I missed alot. A classic "late bloomer." <evil grin>

-LBJ

gull
July 17th, 2004, 11:34 AM
Interesting editorial in Friday's Wall Street Journal (the Weekend Journal section) entitled "Lawyer Logic: A Villain for Every Victim." The author, a Rhodes scholar, has cerebral palsy.

Does the YMCA rule exist on the basis of legitimate safety concerns or did it arise primarily out of a fear of litigation?

swimpastor
July 17th, 2004, 01:11 PM
Are any of us who are drinking too hot coffee, and/or wanting to be able to practise our dive entries obese? If so, as of yesterday, its not our fault. It's an illness. (Red Forman on "That 70's Show" would probably label it 'dumb ***' disease.') I just heard a news commentator say that the first and most obvious result of the government's new decision will probably be more people suing food producers - purveyors, for contributing to the severity of their illness.

Now I am REALLLLLY, REALLLLLY mad!

Scansy
July 17th, 2004, 02:45 PM
Originally posted by mattson
At 180 degrees, she would have had a fighting chance to avoid 3rd degree burns, as opposed to 190 degrees, where she had virtually none.



OK, make the coffee at the diner 190 degrees and I pose the same question. I know that we will never know, but I have my own personal thoughts on what would have happened. No trial lawyer would take the case because there wasn't millions to be made - only maybe thousands - if that.


Are any of us who are drinking too hot coffee, and/or wanting to be able to practise our dive entries obese? If so, as of yesterday, its not our fault. It's an illness. (Red Forman on "That 70's Show" would probably label it 'dumb ***' disease.') I just heard a news commentator say that the first and most obvious result of the government's new decision will probably be more people suing food producers - purveyors, for contributing to the severity of their illness.

This one irked me too. I realize that there are legitimate cases where people have gland or hormone or other problems that make them gain weight. Those cases are illnesses and have their own name, etc. But just calling obesity a disease is crazy. There are many, many people who are obese just because of lack of exercise and poor eating. In fact, I am a recovering "obese person". Lost 40 pounds in a year and a half and am still losing. I was 5'9"/215 lbs - now 175lbs. Need to lose a few more, but now I realize it isn't my fault. Hey, I should stop swimming and running and just sue for some free liposuction.

Oh, and by the way, I swam a mile this morning and then ran three. Stopped at the local convenience store on the way home to get a bottle of water. Put it between my legs and it was too cold. I know suffer from shrinkage. Do I have a case?:p

KenChertoff
July 17th, 2004, 06:11 PM
Originally posted by swimpastor
Are any of us who are drinking too hot coffee, and/or wanting to be able to practise our dive entries obese? If so, as of yesterday, its not our fault. It's an illness. (Red Forman on "That 70's Show" would probably label it 'dumb ***' disease.') I just heard a news commentator say that the first and most obvious result of the government's new decision will probably be more people suing food producers - purveyors, for contributing to the severity of their illness.

Now I am REALLLLLY, REALLLLLY mad!

It sounds like that commentator isn't quite up to speed on this issue. Those claims have already been litigated in several jurisdictions and they've been pretty uniformly thrown out at both the trial and appellate level, as frivolous (which, by the way, I think was correct -- see, we agree on something :)).

I'm not an expert in personal injury law, but I don't see any legal significance, in the context of personal injury liability, to calling obesity a disease. The main effect would be to allow coverage by health insurers for programs like Weight Watchers -- some state insurance regulations don't allow reimbursement except for treatment of recognized "diseases."

This is an example of one of my pet peeves about news coverage of legal matters. The media report (and sometimes speculate) about "outlandish" cases, but they only tell part of the story and they don't report when cases are dismissed or verdicts are reversed.

Sabretooth Tiger
July 17th, 2004, 10:32 PM
"No trial lawyer would take the case because there wasn't millions to be made - only maybe thousands - if that."

You know, the vitriol that has been spewed in this thread towards lawyers has, in my opinion, gone far enough. Are there bad, greedy lawyers? Sure. Just like there are bad greedy doctors, insurance adjusters, swim coaches and so on.

Most of the lawyers, doctors, swim coaches I know are decent, reasonable, hard working human beings. Many lawyers and doctors do a significant amount of pro bono work to help people who otherwise could not afford counsel at no charge.

There are lawyers who are masters swimmers just like you guys on this forum. We swim pool races, ocean races, volunteer in our communities, raise our families, do our jobs and treat others as we would like to be treated. Heck, there were five lawyers in the water at practice this morning and you know what, not one shark joke from our teammates.

So why not turn the bile down a notch? Remember, karma can be a b**ch.

carl botterud

gull
July 17th, 2004, 10:41 PM
I agree with Carl.

Most swim coaches are decent, reasonable, hard working human beings.

gull
July 17th, 2004, 10:44 PM
C'mon, I'm joking. Lawyers have a sense of humor, right?

Sabretooth Tiger
July 18th, 2004, 12:43 AM
I think so, pretty good ones at that. It just seems to me that perhaps there was more anger and hostility than joshing in some of the earlier posts. And as my wife will tell you, I'm more of a "bull in a china shop" sorta guy, and not particularly sensitive to criticism. Heck, how could I do my job if I wasn't able to do battle? Maybe I took it all wrong.

c

Bob McAdams
July 18th, 2004, 02:33 AM
Originally posted by KenChertoff
Not at my pool -- there's no "shallow" end and the bulkheads are opposite the blocks. We enter the pool at the starting block end. Besides, have you never seen a swimmer cross the lane lines?

Sure. In fact, if they cross my lane at the starting block end of the pool, I can see it while I'm standing on the starting block, and I can delay my start until they're out of the road. You really sound like you're grasping at straws here in a vain effort to justify an unjustifiable policy!


You forget that in my hypothetical the lifeguard was busy "explaining" to the Lipitor Dude why he couldn't dive. I would think that that would be a significant distraction. Anyway, it seems to me that a clueless swimmer getting in the way of someone diving off the block is a much more serious matter than a teenager swimming in the adults' lane.

At my pool, the lifeguards have to explain to adults why they can't swim in the teen lane, and explain to parents why their kid can't swim unsupervised in one of the family lanes, and explain to lane swimmers why they can't exit the pool under the diving board when people are using it, and explain to lane swimmers why they can't enter the pool from the deep end, etc., etc. , etc. It's hard to see why this would be any different.

If you post a rule saying "Starting blocks cannot be used during lane swim unless the lane is free and swimmer has a certification badge," most swimmers will read the rule and obey it, and for those who don't, it's a pretty simple matter for the lifeguard to point them to the posted rules.

Of course, we all know, Ken, that your real motive is to keep us from practicing our starts so that you can gain a competitive advantage over us! ;-)

gull
July 18th, 2004, 07:39 AM
So just to summarize, I think what Carl is saying is that lawyers are....people ...just like the rest of us.

And what Ken is saying is that, while you may think your lane is clear, another swimmer (like Michael Phelps) can appear almost instantaneously as you are leaving the starting block.

Any questions?

KenChertoff
July 18th, 2004, 10:44 AM
Originally posted by Bob McAdams
Of course, we all know, Ken, that your real motive is to keep us from practicing our starts so that you can gain a competitive advantage over us! ;-)

If you ever saw my starts you'd know that's not true. :)

Actually, if you must know, the reason that I feel strongly about this is we've sometimes had people at my pool dive into occupied lanes (despite the posted rules) and last week one of them barely missed me. The lifeguards throw them out, but that wouldn't help much after a collision. It's not something I want to encourage.:mad:

Scansy
July 18th, 2004, 11:28 AM
Originally posted by KenChertoff
..

This is an example of one of my pet peeves about news coverage of legal matters. The media report (and sometimes speculate) about "outlandish" cases, but they only tell part of the story and they don't report when cases are dismissed or verdicts are reversed.

All news coverage should be taken with a grain of salt. The side of the issue that is the most "spectacular" will get the coverage. Don't ever forget that the news shows need ratings first and foremost to make money. And newspapers need circulation, etc.

Scansy
July 18th, 2004, 11:35 AM
Originally posted by botterud
"No trial lawyer would take the case because there wasn't millions to be made - only maybe thousands - if that."

You know, the vitriol that has been spewed in this thread towards lawyers has, in my opinion, gone far enough. Are there bad, greedy lawyers? Sure. Just like there are bad greedy doctors, insurance adjusters, swim coaches and so on.

Most of the lawyers, doctors, swim coaches I know are decent, reasonable, hard working human beings. Many lawyers and doctors do a significant amount of pro bono work to help people who otherwise could not afford counsel at no charge.

There are lawyers who are masters swimmers just like you guys on this forum. We swim pool races, ocean races, volunteer in our communities, raise our families, do our jobs and treat others as we would like to be treated. Heck, there were five lawyers in the water at practice this morning and you know what, not one shark joke from our teammates.

So why not turn the bile down a notch? Remember, karma can be a b**ch.

carl botterud

Carl,

I apologize. You are correct that it is a small percentage of lawyers that are of this mindset. It is unfortunate that the whole profession is painted one way by the few. If you are a lawyer, I must say that I don't know anything about you or your practice. It is wrong for me to make generalizations.

I still feel that in the case of the McD's coffee, if it was a local diner with modest resources and a smaller insurance policy, it would have been handled differently.

Heck, as an engineer, I would like to say that we don't all wear pocket protectors in white shirts, flood water pants and thick black glasses taped in the middle! (We do take interest in things that most people would care less about though.)

Conniekat8
July 19th, 2004, 03:10 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
Good post, Connie. I like the part about cold burgers causing accidents.

I am now very concerned about consuming my daily power bar on the way to the pool, along with my piping hot, luxuriously steaming coffee. That combo could be deadly but since not produced at McDonalds I feel I am missing out on a potential money making endeavor.

ou know, that one abut burgers causing accidents actually came from a discussion with couple of traffic safety cops, a trasffic judge and couple of insurance guys, I was doing a traffic accident reconstruction case (3D exhibits) where eating a big burger in a car caused a fatal accident (sory, that's about all I can say about it)... But it's a real concern with traffic, much more so than hot coffe burns.

Well, in this case, the guy was biting into one of thiose trople patty triple bread burgers, and it blocked his view of the road just enough to do something that caused a accident.

Try looking straight ahead next time you'er biting into a triple decker, and take note how much of your view it blocks.
In addition to fumbling around with the packaging, ketchup leaking on a shirt and other little distractions. Well, it was an interesting case to watch unfold.

Conniekat8
July 19th, 2004, 03:17 PM
Originally posted by mattson

Let's push this one a little further. After your accident (which you didn't sue the pool management about), you become pool manager. You see person after person diving into that one special lane (without checking the depth). Despite the fact that you have had first hand knowledge of diving into that lane, despite the fact that you've seen dozens of people make exactly the same mistake, you say nothing to the swimmers. In fact, you point out to other people how deep the other lanes are (without mentioning the one exception). Are you responsible for your (in)action?


He may be responsible for his inaction, but not responsible for the other persons actions.
Which one carries more weight?
Why should the managers inaction carry more weight than the other persons action of very active risk taking in ignoring the rules and common sense and endangering themselves?

Fitswimmer04
July 19th, 2004, 06:43 PM
This has been an amazing discussion. I had never read the actual facts of the infamous McDonald's coffee case, I appreciate seeing them here. As you can see, I live in NJ, home of some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. A long time ago when I started paying my own insurance I asked my agent why it cost so much. His answer was-"Everytime someone gets in a fender-bender in this state they think they won the lottery, and the lawyers get them the winning tickets"
About 10 years ago I was in an accident-a guy ran the light and hit my car so hard it went airborne and landed on the drivers side. Because I was belted in, I walked away with a bruised elbow. The insurance company paid my medical bills and I got enough $$ for a downpayment on a new car. I did NOT sue, although I was approached by 2 lawyers offering to file for me. I refused to add to the madness. My arm healed, I had a car and was basically in the same shape as before the accident within a month. If more people would choose not to file lawsuits in cases like mine, there would be more $$ available for people who truly need it and the bottom-feeding lawyers would be out of jobs.

Conniekat8
July 19th, 2004, 10:33 PM
Originally posted by Scansy
All news coverage should be taken with a grain of salt. The side of the issue that is the most "spectacular" will get the coverage. Don't ever forget that the news shows need ratings first and foremost to make money. And newspapers need circulation, etc.

Exactly!!!!
And the media does the same thing with many other things that they think will create intewrest or extra sensation.

KenChertoff
July 20th, 2004, 12:31 AM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
He may be responsible for his inaction, but not responsible for the other persons actions.
Which one carries more weight?
Why should the managers inaction carry more weight than the other persons action of very active risk taking in ignoring the rules and common sense and endangering themselves?

I think there's been a misconception running throughout this thread -- liability isn't an "either/or" matter as between plaintiff and defendant in personal injury cases. Under the prevailing rule in the United States, the jury apportions fault between the parties and the plaintiff's recovery is reduced in proportion to his own fault, whether it's 10%, 50% or 99% (or any other percentage). So if the jury found that the pool operator bore, say 10% of the fault, the plaintiff's recovery would only be 10% of his total damages.

I'm not advocating for or against liability here, but I think we should be clear on what it is we're talking about.

Phil Arcuni
July 20th, 2004, 02:10 AM
Everyone is talking about personal responsibility, but what about corporate responsibility? Why should McDonalds get away doing something irresponsible (as I said previously, I would never give super hot coffee to someone driving a car) just because some individual does something stupid and careless? The actions of large corporations has far more effect than that of most individuals, and the leaders of those corporations should be aware of it.

I will defend our legal system. It plays a major part defending individuals against the incompetent and the venal. Without it our freedoms would be significantly reduced. I am not a lawyer and have none in my family, but I am glad some are here to defend my rights when and if I need them.

aquageek
July 20th, 2004, 08:34 AM
Originally posted by Phil Arcuni
Everyone is talking about personal responsibility, but what about corporate responsibility? Why should McDonalds get away doing something irresponsible (as I said previously, I would never give super hot coffee to someone driving a car) just because some individual does something stupid and careless?

Are you suggesting McDs serve coffe at different temperatures based on habits and lifestyles of customers? What if the person in the drive-through puts the coffee in a spill proof container? Can they still get it hot or just lukewarm? This isn't a matter of corporate responsiblity since I am sure most reasonable people prefer hot coffee and know drinking it in your car comes with a myriad of risks that no corporation can foresee. It's a matter of personal responsibility. My goodness, we aren't talking exploding tires here, we are talking coffee.

What happens if McDs still is allowed to serve hot coffee to folks who dine-in and an earthquake hits causing all that hot coffee to spill all over the customers? You gonna sue them?

geochuck
July 20th, 2004, 10:51 AM
I love Seattle's Best served at MacDonalds in the west. But best of all I love Tim Hortons served all over Canada and some places in the USA. But I still like my coffee hot...

My goodness ten pages over spilt coffee..........

LindsayNB
July 20th, 2004, 01:03 PM
Perhaps the corporate responsibility could be fulfilled by a warning on the coffee cup saying that it is served 20-30 degrees hotter than most coffee and can cause severe burns in as little as three seconds? Even "We serve our coffee extra hot! Severe burns may result if spilled." If it would help prevent regular severe burning of their customers would that be such a bad thing?

Conniekat8
July 20th, 2004, 01:34 PM
Originally posted by KenChertoff
I think there's been a misconception running throughout this thread -- liability isn't an "either/or" matter as between plaintiff and defendant in personal injury cases. Under the prevailing rule in the United States, the jury apportions fault between the parties and the plaintiff's recovery is reduced in proportion to his own fault, whether it's 10%, 50% or 99% (or any other percentage). So if the jury found that the pool operator bore, say 10% of the fault, the plaintiff's recovery would only be 10% of his total damages.

I'm not advocating for or against liability here, but I think we should be clear on what it is we're talking about.

Weren't we talking about the same thing?
I was asking which party should carry more weight (bigger percentage) of the blame ... in my previous example.
I think that the person knowingly endangering themselves should carry more responsibility for their accidents then those who perhaps could have but failed to prevent them from taking that action - when were talking about adults.

Scansy
July 20th, 2004, 01:42 PM
Originally posted by geochuck
I love Seattle's Best served at MacDonalds in the west. But best of all I love Tim Hortons served all over Canada and some places in the USA. But I still like my coffee hot...

My goodness ten pages over spilt coffee..........

We have had longer threads here over things that were even more unrelated to swimming! Also, there was a time when any thread, no matter what topic started it, would end up as dozens of pages discussing late bloomer status.

We all seemed to get our bloomers in a tizzy! Then you had to send your bloomers to a certain moose, who may or may not be Ralph, so that they could be cleansed in V02Max shampoo.

OK, that may be a weak attempt at humor...:rolleyes: ...but what do you expect from an engineer?

Tom Ellison
July 20th, 2004, 02:13 PM
“but what do you expect from an engineer?”

A square head, black tie shoes, pocket holders for pens, tape on the glasses, lunch in a sack and extremely wry humor…..Paul, from what I read, you don’t fit the mold….er…unless you have a pen holder….

Bob McAdams
July 20th, 2004, 02:47 PM
Originally posted by Scansy
We have had longer threads here over things that were even more unrelated to swimming! Also, there was a time when any thread, no matter what topic started it, would end up as dozens of pages discussing late bloomer status.

Well, now that you mention it: YMCA restrictions on the use of starting blocks do place a severe hardship on late bloomers, who didn't have years to hone their starting skills on a kids' swim team where they went off the blocks at every practice. (Now see what you started?) ;-)

Scansy
July 20th, 2004, 02:47 PM
Originally posted by Tom Ellison
“but what do you expect from an engineer?”

A square head, black tie shoes, pocket holders for pens, tape on the glasses, lunch in a sack and extremely wry humor…..Paul, from what I read, you don’t fit the mold….er…unless you have a pen holder….

No, but maybe the square head:D .

Scansy
July 20th, 2004, 02:58 PM
Originally posted by Bob McAdams
...(Now see what you started?) ;-)

Darn. I should be punished. Any volunteers?!?!

(Bet that changes the subject!)

Conniekat8
July 20th, 2004, 04:37 PM
Originally posted by Tom Ellison
“but what do you expect from an engineer?”

A square head, black tie shoes, pocket holders for pens, tape on the glasses, lunch in a sack and extremely wry humor…..Paul, from what I read, you don’t fit the mold….er…unless you have a pen holder….

Did someone say an engineer?
Careful, I resemble that remark! :p

Conniekat8
July 20th, 2004, 04:40 PM
Originally posted by Scansy
Darn. I should be punished. Any volunteers?!?!

(Bet that changes the subject!)

Engineer?
Does that mean I can pick on you and get away with it?
I are one too. ;) We ought to be able to pick on each other! :p

Tom Ellison
July 20th, 2004, 05:01 PM
Ok Connie....take the tape off your glasses and buy some brown shoes....and we will let you off the hook....You have to keep your pocket protector though.....

KenChertoff
July 20th, 2004, 07:17 PM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
Weren't we talking about the same thing?
I was asking which party should carry more weight (bigger percentage) of the blame ... in my previous example.
I think that the person knowingly endangering themselves should carry more responsibility for their accidents then those who perhaps could have but failed to prevent them from taking that action - when were talking about adults.

The point I was trying to make is that the general rule in the United States is that the verdict should reflect that by reducing the plaintiff's recovery (if any) in proportion to his own responsiblity -- it's not an all or nothing result.

aquageek
July 20th, 2004, 07:38 PM
Depends on the state.

Scansy
July 20th, 2004, 09:39 PM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
Engineer?
Does that mean I can pick on you and get away with it?
I are one too. ;) We ought to be able to pick on each other! :p

If you pick on me, I will pick on you! My sliderule can beat up your sliderule. It is a V02Max Rule! Nyah, Nyah, Nyah, Nyah, Nyaaaaah!

KenChertoff
July 20th, 2004, 10:44 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
Depends on the state.

That's true. But the majority of states follow some form of the "comparative fault" rule.

Michael Heather
July 21st, 2004, 12:43 AM
To Pastor: it is easier to get forgiveness than permission. If you need to practice starts from the blocks and they exist, (and you are not able to get friendly with the guards or Mgt) go ahead and dive. In a court case, it could be argued that they (the blocks) were there for precisely that reason. But I am not an attorney or insurance adjuster, just a swimmer that has been where you are. Most likely the Y will throw you out if you persist in diving, but how much practice do you need?

To Geek and Botterud, et al.:

I think that the lady should have shouldered at least 50% of the liability, inasmuch as she decided not only to put the coffee in a sensitive area, but compounded her lack of good judgement by taking off the lid! Recipe for burnt naughty bits, right there.

Mc Donalds apparently deserved the punitive judgement for being both stupid and arrogant.

aquageek
July 21st, 2004, 09:17 AM
Originally posted by Michael Heather
I think that the lady should have shouldered at least 50% of the liability...

If each party is equally at fault, why should this lady collect?

Michael Heather
July 21st, 2004, 09:33 AM
Originally posted by aquageek
If each party is equally at fault, why should this lady collect?

Precisely.

The punitive damages should still have been paid by McDonalds to a class action suit.

My opinions. I know the system doesn't work in straight lines, but it usually works.

aquageek
July 21st, 2004, 09:58 AM
Originally posted by Michael Heather

The punitive damages should still have been paid by McDonalds to a class action suit.


Is this a joke? A class of people who don't know coffee is hot and drive with it between their legs? So now we take a singular ridiculous instance and develop and entire class of people? So we have classes like former nuclear workers with health issues, women who work at Wal-Mart, tobacco litigation and NOW we can add ding-dongs who don't know coffee is hot and drive with a cup between their legs. Yeah, excellent notion. Here's another class to add - people who drink cold beverages with ice and occasionally suffer tooth sensitivity. Sue the ice makers.

Tom Ellison
July 21st, 2004, 10:23 AM
Aquageek...you are on a roll here my friend.....and I think you are hitting the nail directly on the head......

Each of us pay for these law suits in the form of increased prices/rates. Our system is way out of whack. Let me visit another area to prove I am unbiased regarding this issue. I was right out of college and working (temporary) on a paving crew in the D.C. area in Nov. 1977. I was backed over and squashed under a loaded (actually over weight) dump truck in excess of 28 tons. The sub-contractor was negligent in four areas.

1. No back up warning bells on his truck.
2. No inspection sticker.
3. Over weight by many tons.
4. No road marshal or orders to back into the paving machine.

I was in my area of work, doing my job and without warning this dump truck backed over my midsection and squashed me in the street. The Workman Compensation laws in the State of Virginia do not allow law suits against employers for negligence. Any settlement is based upon the workers pay scale. I received $9800.00 plus life long medical benefits related to my accident. For the record, I was SQUASHED! I had my intestines blown through my rectum into my Levis, my right femoral head squashed out of my right side, the total loss of my right buttocks, colostomy for two years, 5 life or death operations in the first three days after my accident, 22 operations to date, three rectum reconstruction surgeries, crushed pelvis and sacrum, 40 plus pints of blood the first three days, Hepatitis C from the blood transfusions, and horrific pain and suffering for years after this accident. Yet, I was NOT ALLOWED TO BRING SUIT AGAINST MY EMPLOYER FOR OBVIOUS NEGLIGENCE. The company was fined for all four violations by the government and those violations stuck even after appeal.

My point? If anyone should embrace negligent law suits….it is ME! Yet, I think the system is way out of whack….and I mean OUT OF WHACK….

aquageek
July 21st, 2004, 10:58 AM
Interesting discussion on this, Tom.

For many years most states recognized worker's comp as the "exclusive remedy" available to workers. That has since morphed quite a bit in many states. Some states now allow liability claims in addition to the work comp benefits. Many states also have a disability ranking associated with certain injuries that are included as part of a work comp settlement. It's complicated, to be sure.

Now, you think liability policies have skyrocketed. Worker's comp premiums are really out of control, mostly due to increased health care costs.

Scansy
July 21st, 2004, 12:24 PM
Originally posted by Tom Ellison
Aquageek...you are on a roll here my friend.....and I think you are hitting the nail directly on the head......

Each of us pay for these law suits in the form of increased prices/rates. Our system is way out of whack. Let me visit another area to prove I am unbiased regarding this issue. I was right out of college and working (temporary) on a paving crew in the D.C. area in Nov. 1977. I was backed over and squashed under a loaded (actually over weight) dump truck in excess of 28 tons. The sub-contractor was negligent in four areas.

1. No back up warning bells on his truck.
2. No inspection sticker.
3. Over weight by many tons.
4. No road marshal or orders to back into the paving machine.

I was in my area of work, doing my job and without warning this dump truck backed over my midsection and squashed me in the street. The Workman Compensation laws in the State of Virginia do not allow law suits against employers for negligence. Any settlement is based upon the workers pay scale. I received $9800.00 plus life long medical benefits related to my accident. For the record, I was SQUASHED! I had my intestines blown through my rectum into my Levis, my right femoral head squashed out of my right side, the total loss of my right buttocks, colostomy for two years, 5 life or death operations in the first three days after my accident, 22 operations to date, three rectum reconstruction surgeries, crushed pelvis and sacrum, 40 plus pints of blood the first three days, Hepatitis C from the blood transfusions, and horrific pain and suffering for years after this accident. Yet, I was NOT ALLOWED TO BRING SUIT AGAINST MY EMPLOYER FOR OBVIOUS NEGLIGENCE. The company was fined for all four violations by the government and those violations stuck even after appeal.

My point? If anyone should embrace negligent law suits….it is ME! Yet, I think the system is way out of whack….and I mean OUT OF WHACK….

Yeah, but this lady spilled HOT coffee on herself!:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Maybe if you had run yourself over with that truck.:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

mattson
July 21st, 2004, 12:51 PM
Originally posted by Michael Heather
I think that the lady should have shouldered at least 50% of the liability, inasmuch as she decided not only to put the coffee in a sensitive area, but compounded her lack of good judgement by taking off the lid!

Hi Michael, could you point out the article you are looking at? From the one I linked to, there is nothing to indicate:
1) that she had the coffee cup between her legs (there was a different, previous suit where someone did that)
2) that the car was in motion at the time of the spill
3) that there was an easy way to get cream and sugar into the coffee without taking off the lid of the cup.

I'm not saying she didn't do all three. Just that you could be scolding her for things she didn't do.

Tom Ellison
July 21st, 2004, 01:40 PM
I think their should be an assumed risk there....You screw around with hot coffee in a car....putting cream and sugar in it.....you just might foul up and spill the stuff.....Now, how the heck is that McD's fault....they cna't put signs up at the front of the drive through that say...NO MORONS ALLOWED......

aquageek
July 21st, 2004, 02:21 PM
I think it's mostly irrelevant what this lady was doing in addition to drinking coffee in a car. Cars move, the rest just adds to the risk.

McDs has tried to warn people by putting a warning on their lids. I'm thinking they should put warnings on car hoods now that read "Might crash, will hurt."

emmett
July 21st, 2004, 03:51 PM
The two coffee makers in our house make fresh coffee at 167 and 172 degrees respectively. That may or may not be norm for household coffee makers. This is hot enough to burn you badly and quickly. How many lawsuits are there for these kinds of units?

I think darn near everyone would expect that coffee served in a fast food place (especially stuff served in cups intended to facilitate your getting it back HOT to your office group that elected you to fly the breakfast run) would be at least as hot as what comes out of their home caffeine dispensers.

Used as intended (keep in cup till transferred directly to mouth, with normal due caution in taking that first sip to determine drinkability), it is perfectly safe. As with all things, use in unintended ways increases risk.

If this lady had poked herself in the eye with the coffee stir and blinded herself would she have gotten a bigger settlement?

My solution - outlaw coffee altogether and let people drink a cold, refreshing Diet Coke for their morning caffeine fix.

Hmmmm....back in the days when drinking a cold beer whilst operating a pickup truck was a god-given right here in Texas, I had occasion to end up with a lap full of cold brew upon opening a recently agitated can that was between my legs. I wonder if I could have gotten a big settlement for cold-induced shrinkage?

Tom Ellison
July 21st, 2004, 03:57 PM
Wow Emmett...you're on to something there...Maybe I should have brought suit against the Pacific Ocean after I swam Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge because I had to get a mag glass and tweezers to take a leak after both races....

emmett
July 21st, 2004, 04:02 PM
I can see that a rewording of the liability waiver required for OW swims is in the cards.

emmEtt

geochuck
July 21st, 2004, 04:04 PM
Still love my coffee hot... if I spill it I hope it misses me.

George Park www.swimdownhill.com

mattson
July 21st, 2004, 06:07 PM
Seems that people are still reacting to the urban legend, rather than the facts.

http://www.centerjd.org/free/mythbusters-free/MB_mcdonalds.htm

http://www.okbar.org/publicinfo/mcdonaldsspeech.pdf

From the latter link, I'll post some quotes:
After getting their coffee, grandson Chris drove the car away from the drive-in window and stopped so Stella could add cream and sugar, but she had trouble getting off the lid. So she placed the styrofoam cup between her legs, thus freeing up both hands to remove that lid.

So she wasn't driving, and the car was stopped. She didn't get a chance to test the temperature, because she was still adding cream and sugar. She *did* place it between her legs, because this 80-year old woman had trouble taking the lid off with one hand. (Which I don't think makes her the complete idiot some of you are painting her as. :) )

Geek asked if the jury had fallen asleep about who was responsible for the spill:
For example, in a case in Pennsylvania, a woman also placed a cup of hot coffee between her legs and was burned when it spilled. The court—in dismissing the case—said in very legalistic language: “a purveyor of hot coffee cannot be held liable for burns sustained by a customer when an external force causes the beverage to spill.”

I said that the case was not about the spill, but about the temperature.
Simply put: Stella claimed the high temperature of the coffee presented an unreasonable risk of injury.
Let's put it this way: if the only difference between coffee A and coffee B is their temperature (similar cups and drive-through windows), and you have many cases of serious (3rd) degree burns for coffee A, and almost no cases for coffee B, then I'd say the too hot temperature is responsible for the 3rd degree burns. (If you accept that sometimes spills happen regardless of the temperature of the beverage or how careful you are.)

A survey of restaurants in Albuquerque found coffee was served below 160 degrees; and other fast food chains sold their coffee below 180 degrees. Everyone admits that it is physically impossible to drink coffee at 185 degrees. It’s just too hot!! And if it spills, disaster!!
So when people say she should have used common sense, I'd say her common sense told her to expect cooler coffee. :) (Emmett, I can't argue about the fact that the temperatures you listed *can* burn you. But please read one or both of those links, as the risks at 170 degrees are much smaller than 190 degrees.)

I'm not going to try to convince Geek or Connie that they are wrong, as they have made clear that their "line-in-the-sand" is different from mine. (Geek has stated his opinion that temperature doesn't matter, and Connie thinks you should expect 3rd degree burns.) But when people accuse this lady of being a money-grubber (when she offered to settle for $20,000, versus the mediator who suggested that McD settle for 200K, versus her spending a week in the hospital and months disabled), then I feel obligated to present more facts. There are enough cases that are (with no argument) frivilous, I think a new poster child should be elected.

aquageek
July 21st, 2004, 06:59 PM
OK, so as I understand it, this lady does not have the manual dexterity to manipulate coffee, preferred hot by most people. So, naturally, she chooses to do so in a car, on a slanted surface in cramped quarters and somehow McDs is held responsible. Give me a break. What prevented her from walking inside, ordering the coffee, calmly walking to the counter and putting cream and sugar in it, and then going to her car? Does McDs have the duty to interrogate customers on not only where they plan to drink coffee but also if they have any physical limitations that cause them to ignore common sense and do something silly? Maybe they should pass out insulated body armor before serving coffee.

For the record, just because someone offers to settle means absolutely nothing. Would you want to settle if you felt you were not at fault?

What is prohibiting people from the basic knowledge that coffee is hot and should be handled with care ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS?

geochuck
July 21st, 2004, 07:05 PM
That would never happen at Tim Horton's when you get your coffee there, they ask if you want cream and sugar and they put it in for you...

Does anyone out there know what double, double means???

Phil Arcuni
July 21st, 2004, 08:09 PM
We all take calculated risks all the time, and usually understand the downside of the risk.

for example, when I drink coffee in a car I expect to be able to sip without burning my lips immediately (not so with 190 degree coffee) I would be surprised and more damaged than I would have expected.

for example, if I drink coffee in a car, and hit an unexpected bump, causing me to squeeze my styrofoam cup, which causes the lid to pop off and drench the front of my shirt, I expect, at the worst, a first degree burn, uncomfortable cold later on, and embarrassment at the office. (that is, in fact, what happened.) That is the downside of the risk I take, and I accept it when I drink coffee in the car. I do not expect to spend several days in the hospital with second and third degree burns.

We are not talking about hot coffee here, we are talking about almost-boiling coffee. Emmett's coffee is hot, but not what we are talking about. Do you guys realize how hot is hot? Putting 167 or 172 degree coffee (already 20 degrees colder!) into a ceramic cup and it is not 167 or 172 degrees any more. I doubt any of you drink coffee, ever, that is nearly as hot as we are talking about.

If I served coffee at a drive through, I would expect accidents to happen, and it would not be responsible for me to sell a product when the consequences are so serious, especially when the customer does not expect the coffee to be as hot as it is. I would feel responsible if someone got hurt by my unusually hot coffee. I would expect to get sued by the tenth (or whatever) seriously injured customer.

I expect McDonalds to be as responsible as I am, especially if it has been told about the situation, several times.

aquageek
July 21st, 2004, 08:44 PM
Interesting post Phil.

It seems you expect everyone but yourself to anticipate every conceivable avoidance of personal responsiblity you should take and adjust all their products accordingly. For instance, I guess McDs should also take responsibility for the unexpected road bump, the position of your hand or lap holding your coffee, the condition of your car's suspension, the amount of time you had the coffee since it was served, and the temperature of your vehicle as opposed to you just taking responsiblity for your own actions of drinking coffee, most commonly served hot in the US, in a moving vehicle. If you already recognize the risks, why then is it incumbent on someone else to protect you from youself?

If you don't have to take any responsiblity, why not just dump the coffee on your head and then sue McDs. After all, you have stated your own actions are not as significant as McDs inaction. Since every other action you or this disabled woman takes in drinking coffee is complete overshadowed by the temperature at which McDs serves it, you might as well bathe in the stuff and collect damages.

It's always someone else's fault these days.

aquageek
July 21st, 2004, 08:45 PM
Interesting post Phil.

It seems you expect everyone but yourself to anticipate every conceivable avoidance of personal responsiblity you should take and adjust all their products accordingly. For instance, I guess McDs should also take responsibility for the unexpected road bump, the position of your hand or lap holding your coffee, the condition of your car's suspension, the amount of time you had the coffee since it was served, and the temperature of your vehicle as opposed to you just taking responsiblity for your own actions of drinking coffee, most commonly served hot in the US, in a moving vehicle. If you already recognize the risks, why then is it incumbent on someone else to protect you from youself?

If you don't have to take any responsiblity, why not just dump the coffee on your head and then sue McDs. After all, you have stated your own actions are not as significant as McDs inaction. Since every other action you or this disabled woman takes in drinking coffee is complete overshadowed by the temperature at which McDs serves it, you might as well bathe in the stuff and collect damages.

It's always someone else's fault these days.

Michael Heather
July 21st, 2004, 09:39 PM
Seems that some of us are less interested in exchanging ideas and positions with dignity and respect than putting down anyone who dares to disagree. Even to the extent that we make the same disparaging post twice.

Anyone remember what the real thread of this discussion is about without looking at the first post?

Phil Arcuni
July 21st, 2004, 10:47 PM
Did you seriously read my post, aquageek? aquageek? My point was that the risks I took were reasonable given my reasonable expectations. As such, when things did not work out (in that an accident did happen), I certainly would not sue. In fact, I have never sued anybody or any institution. So much for ad hominum.

But, the condition of McDonalds coffee was not reasonable. I think this woman had a case.

My point was just the opposite of what you say -- I expect McDonalds to live up to a level of responsibility *less* than what I would do myself. I like to think that I would know, before serving boiling coffee to thousands of unknowing people, that bad things would happen, so I would not do it. I don't really expect McDonalds to live up to that level. However, after being told several dozen times that people were being hurt, I do expect McDonalds to change its behavior (before losing a legal case.)

Perhaps you think that corporations are like nature, and suing them is as unreasonble as suing the climate for flood or fire damage? Sorry, they are human institutions and should be expected to act to existing social standards.

By the way, going back to aquatic issues, here are some 20 degree differences:

Open water swim at 45 degrees: can't do it
Open water swim at 65 degrees: OK

swim workout at 80 degrees: OK
swim workout at 100 degrees: *not* OK

coffee at 170 degrees: sippable
coffee at 190 degrees: scalds at touch

Phil Arcuni
July 21st, 2004, 10:56 PM
Going back to the original subject of this thread (Mike, I did not have to check,) here is a story that happened to me last week:

Beginning of the workout, I am tightening up lane lines with a wrench, in the water, moving from lane to lane. It is early, and the pool deck is nearly empty. A colleague jumps in the water, near enough to me to be a concern and making it clear that we were both lucky that one or both of us were not hurt.

I did not expect to be jumped on while I am doing an everyday chore that happens every morning. I did not think that I needed to look up to be sure someone was not jumping into the lane before I moved into it. My colleague did not expect someone to suddenly move into a lane that he just observed was clear.

Accidents do happen to reasonable people. Pools should not allow people to dive except in carefully controlled situations, which do not happen in general rec. swim.

geochuck
July 21st, 2004, 11:06 PM
Originally posted by Phil Arcuni
Accidents do happen to reasonable people. Pools should not allow people to dive except in carefully controlled situations, which do not happen in general rec. swim.

What about stop look and listen. If you don't pay attention you can get hurt.

Phil Arcuni
July 21st, 2004, 11:16 PM
I join the ranks of ConnieKat, aquageek, and he-who-shall-not-be-named and posts three consecutive messages to an almost-flame thread.

Perhaps the problem is that it may seem unfair for someone to receive a 'windfall' for acting dumb and getting hurt. Perhaps you will agree that sometimes corporations act irresponsibly. If so, would you prefer that some faceless organization 'committee for responsible corporate practices' perhaps, take on the task of enforcing social norms and collecting punitive punishments? Or the church? Or the insurance companies? Or the government?

Not for me, I know how quickly and universally these types of organizations get co-opted. I prefer the chaotic, uncontrolled, and somewhat 'unmanipulated by the powers that be' system that we have. That is, individuals, institutions, and lawyers acting from faith, inspiration, ethics, jealousy, selfishness, and avarice. The combination is much better than the alternative.

Phil Arcuni
July 21st, 2004, 11:22 PM
"What about stop look and listen. If you don't pay attention you can get hurt."

Next time I break someone's neck because she did not look before moving into my start lane, I will tell them that. It it were my pool under my management, I will tell her that also.

Then I will have a restful night of sleep.

aquageek
July 22nd, 2004, 05:17 AM
Phil:

By the way, sorry for the double post - got a case of fat fingers and clicked submit twice.

The difference between us is that you seem to think corporations are resposible for the gap between human action and responsbility while I believe there is no gap that corporations must cover. People make mistakes, that is a fact of life. We should not expect manufacturers to account for every conceivable mistake and adjust their products accordingly.

For instance, given your logic, knife makers shouldn't make their knives sharpe since people might cut themselves, cars shouldn't go over 70 cause people will speed and get in wrecks, etc.

McDs did nothing wrong, they served hot coffee to a woman who subsequently manipulated it in a vehicle AND she was physically unable to do so carefully.

There are folks who look for others to blame and then there are of us who work to improve ourselves. Much more challenging to work on your own faults that sue others.

Gareth Eckley
July 22nd, 2004, 06:23 AM
For those who refuse to look at the FACTS in this case but prefer to opinionize, here is information from the case.

McDonald's admitted that it has known about the risk of serious burns from its scalding hot coffee for more than 10 years -- the risk was brought to its attention through numerous other claims and suits, to no avail;

From 1982 to 1992, McDonald's coffee burned more than 700 people, many receiving severe burns to the genital area, perineum, inner thighs, and buttocks;

Not only men and women, but also children and infants, have been burned by McDonald's scalding hot coffee, in some instances due to inadvertent spillage by McDonald's employees;

At least one woman had coffee dropped in her lap through the service window, causing third-degree burns to her inner thighs and other sensitive areas, which resulted in disability for years;

Witnesses for McDonald's admitted in court that consumers are unaware of the extent of the risk of serious burns from spilled coffee served at McDonald's required temperature;

McDonald's admitted that it did not warn customers of the nature and extent of this risk and could offer no explanation as to why it did not;

McDonald's witnesses testified that it did not intend to turn down the heat -- As one witness put it: “No, there is no current plan to change the procedure that we're using in that regard right now;”

McDonald's admitted that its coffee is “not fit for consumption” when sold because it causes severe scalds if spilled or drunk;

The case is all about the temperature. People make assumptions about actions they take. The average person assumes that drinking coffee from McDonalds is safe. I would assume that as they have been serving it for many years they would be doing so safely and responsibly. No one assumes that 3rd degree burns, skin grafts and months in hospital would result if by accident they or someone else spills coffee over them.

For Aquageek who sees no need for corporate responsiblity, was the case of the "firestone tyres fitted to Suv's where they would explode on hot roads, the fault of the driver or the company making unsafe tyres ?

BTW, I know that as soon as someone stops arguing over the facts in a case ( here it is the temp of the coffee ) and goes to global opinions over society, lawyers etc, etc, that they have realised that they have LOST the argument.

Gareth Eckley
July 22nd, 2004, 07:05 AM
In response to the original post about diving in the YMCA in general swim sessions.

As a swim coach and teacher i have to do a "Risk Assesment" for all factors that may affect the safety of the people who are in my care, just as the Y is responsible for the safety of people using it's facility.

I would allow diving from the blocks IF:

The pool depth is greater than 6 feet ( 2 metres )

All pool users know that this is happening.

There is a clearly marked designated lane for this, closed off to other uses.

The Lane is clearly marked ONE WAY, you dive in and swim to other end and get out.

The swimmers in adjacent lanes who are nearest the ropes bordering on the diving lane swim AWAY, in the same direction, as the diver and are circle swimming in that lane. This is to avoid swimmers swimming head first into the diving zone.

There were two lifeguards, One to watch pool and one to watch the diving lane and the divers.

The diver has clearly demonstrated proficiency in diving, perhaps by doing a practice dive off the side (not the blocks), or is known to the lifeguards as being proficient.

Even with all of this there is still a risk and there are people who would see an empty lane and would swim into it just because they are stupid !

Scansy
July 22nd, 2004, 07:14 AM
Originally posted by Michael Heather


Anyone remember what the real thread of this discussion is about without looking at the first post?

Swimpastor can't practice starts from the blocks at his local pool......:cool:

My wife tells me that I am a fountain of useless knowledge.:)

Scansy
July 22nd, 2004, 07:22 AM
Originally posted by Gareth Eckley
...

For Aquageek who sees no need for corporate responsiblity, was the case of the "firestone tyres fitted to Suv's where they would explode on hot roads, the fault of the driver or the company making unsafe tyres ?

...

Not a good comparison. The average person knows that coffee will be hot. This is something that a reasonable person just knows intuitively.

The average person cannot tell that tires are manufactured poorly by looking at them. This is not something that a reasonable person just knows intuitively. I would guess that many auto mechanics would not be able to tell just by looking at the tires.

aquageek
July 22nd, 2004, 08:14 AM
Gareth:

In America, where I live, we prefer coffee hot and know to take appropriate safeguards when drinking it while driving, most of us anyway. If I have a physical limitation that makes this a bad idea while driving, should I change my habits or sue others. By all means, sue another person.

I don't believe I or anyone else on this forum has argued this is in any way similar to the Firestone tire issue. Here's something for you to ponder - who would be at fault if the lady spilled her coffee and burned herself because her firestone tires exploded? Since it's all about the temperature, I guess McDs is responsible again. Matter of fact, is there any scenario where someone spills coffee from McDs and it's their own fault in your blame filled world?

Why must McD warn customers that coffee is hot. Isn't that a given? Are you aware that hot food served hot might actually be hot?

emmett
July 22nd, 2004, 08:40 AM
Imagine the list of modern conveniences we would have to do without if Big Bad Corporations had to stop providing them (or dumb them down) because a very tiny minority of people using poor judgement, a diminished skill set or less than prudent caution, manage to hurt themselves. Absent a modicum of personal responsibility darn near ANYTHING can be hazardous to your health (the Darwin Awards come to mind here.)

Toasters
Water heaters
Fans
Extension cords
Electrical outlets
Electric mixer
Hammers
Screwdrivers
Drills
Vaccuum cleaner
Forks (Sporks too! But that would be no great loss in my book.)
Paper
Glassware
Window glass
Dry ice
Kitchen Stove
Bicycles
Marbles
Microwave ovens
Sizzling steaks
Thousands more including (dare I say it?)....Swimming pools.

Here's another way to think about it...if that lady had chosen to simply POUR that hot coffee in her lap, instead of accidently spilling it, would she have had a winning lawsuit?

If not, then the temperature of the coffee isn't the issue.

If so, then our system is designed to reward stupidity, not punish corporate irresponsibility.

aquageek
July 22nd, 2004, 09:02 AM
Emmett:

Sporks should be outlawed, as you state. If you mistake it for a spoon it can impale your mouth. The spork manufacturers must know this and should be subject to lawsuits.

I think we are on the same thought when I asked earlier what would have happened if she just dumped the coffee on her head. No amount of personal responsibility seems to mitigate this, in the minds of some.

Speaking of toasters, I burned my hand on one yesterday. Who knew they were supposed to be hot? I'm calling a lawyer.

emmett
July 22nd, 2004, 09:24 AM
Path to riches and fame:

Use knife to slather peanut butter on a slice of bread, put said bread in toaster, apply heat, when it starts to smoke, use knife to try to extract slathered smoking (or possibly burning, by now) bread, electrocute self (may require other hand be placed in sink full of water).

Sue toaster manufacturer, bread baker, knife purveyor, peanut butter conglomerate, electric utility, water company, plumbing installer. Get unbelievably large settlements from each.

Use those profits to develope and market new, litigationally correct, toaster that has no openings through which imbecils might place bread (slathered or otherwise) or knives. Or maybe just no heating elements (that would save on electricity costs, thus paying for itself over time!). Star in your own infomercial (maybe even hire Martha Stewart as a sidekick).

mattson
July 22nd, 2004, 09:28 AM
I don't see how knives are part of this argument. If everyone else's knives cause you a small cut (normal cup of coffee), and brand X causes gangrene/hand chopped off/whatever at a high rate (3rd degree burn from overly hot coffee), then maybe you'll have something.

Hi Emmett, I am not a lawyer. So the information I'm giving is just what I have dug up (but it is not my imagining what is going on).

Part of the suit is that you were using the product in its intended manner. So opening the lid to add cream and sugar (and accidently spilling) would be normal behavior for a cup of coffee, pouring it on your head or lap would not. (If you remember, she was held responsible for the spill.)

This next section I think is what you want:
An injury from a product is not a justification for suing the manufacturer. Rather, the consumer must be able to legitimately allege that the product was "defective", a legal term meaning essentially, that the product was unreasonably dangerous.

A product can be unreasonably dangerous for various reasons. The design of the product could be defective, thus the entire line of products would be unreasonably dangerous. Generally, (although it varies from state to state), to determine whether the product is unreasonably dangerous, a balancing test will be employed in which the utility of the product is weighed against the danger it poses. In most cases, the plaintiff will be obligated to offer a reasonable alternative design that the manufacturer could have employed, which would have prevented the injury and which would not have substantially diminished the product's effectiveness.

So the utility (morning beverage) is compared to the danger (3rd degree burns, hospitilization, etc.) The reasonable alternative design is to make the coffee the same temperature as everyone else. Even 10 degrees cooler would have substantially reduced the risk.

aquageek
July 22nd, 2004, 10:07 AM
So, mattson, if this woman had just poured in her lap intionally, the outcome would have been the same? It's a great country - you can intentionally hurt yourself, drive up your alleged bills for pain and suffering in order to collect damages from someone else.

In addition to coffee being hot, knives are sharp and can cause injury. If you've ever bought a very expensive knife you know they can be very sharp.

Phil Arcuni
July 22nd, 2004, 11:01 AM
Dear water-based biter of heads off chickens:

How long can you keep this thread going by misinterpreting or ignoring what people are saying? deliberately pouring coffee in a lap is not normal use, so no suit. Putting cream and sugar in coffee is normal use and spilling is a common occurance, thus a possibility of a suit if an injury occurs if the product is defective. The product is defective because it was *too hot.* Not hot, but *too* hot. Hotter than a reasonable (american) person would expect. So hot that it could not be treated in a normal manner like other cups of coffee. But if a reasonable person does not *know* the coffee is hotter than all other coffee, how can it be treated differently?

All the products that Emmett mentioned have *known* hazards, and reasonable persons know how to deal with them. The coffee had an *unknown* hazard, so a reasonable person could not deal with it.

McDonalds knew their coffee was defective, but made a conscious decision to do nothing about it. This is irresponsible, and McDonalds should have some sort of sanction because of their irresponsibiltiy. I expect corporations to act responsibly. Would *you* hand someone a cup of boiling water without warning them that it was really boiling?

geochuck
July 22nd, 2004, 11:07 AM
I'm coffeed out... I think I am going to ignore any more posts on this subject...

George Park www,swimdownhill.com

Bob McAdams
July 22nd, 2004, 11:19 AM
Originally posted by mattson
I don't see how knives are part of this argument.

I don't see how McDonald's coffee is part of this argument, which is about competitive swimmers being allowed to use the starting blocks to practice their starts.

A more relevant question is whether cars should be allowed to turn at intersections.

Left turns should clearly never be allowed, because a car that is turning left could be hit by a car that is travelling the other way going straight. Of course, the car that is turning left could watch for cars going the other way and wait until there's nothing coming. But what if a car comes zooming through at the last minute and the driver doesn't see it?

And right turns are not really safe either, since a car that is turning right has to slow down to turn. What if a car that is going straight doesn't see that he's slowing down and rams him? Or what if he hits a pedestrian who is crossing at the intersection?

The fact is that everything I've just said is perfectly true and valid. The only thing it ignores is the fact that people need to turn. But if you even consider that fact, you are admitting that rules and regulations should take into account what people need and not just safety.

All of which brings us back to the topic:

A pool has a clearly posted policy that says: "Starting blocks may only be used in otherwise vacant lanes by certified swimmers." Only 4 of the 6 lanes are in use. Swimmer #5, who has a certification badge on his suit, informs the lifeguard that he is going to be practicing starts in one of the empty lanes. Why shouldn't this be allowed?

aquageek
July 22nd, 2004, 11:32 AM
I'll leave it at this, coffee is hot, get over it. If you can't handle coffee, which is hot by the way, maybe you should drink cold caffeinated bevereages unless you are looking for a free ride, courtesy of McDs.

Oh yeah, for the record, coffee is hot, hence the steam, that indicates heat.

mattson
July 22nd, 2004, 11:41 AM
Geek, the remedy suggested (lowering the temperature by 10-20 degrees), still leaves you with hot coffee that can burn you. But it greatly reduces the chances of serious burns, without compromising quality. Why wouldn't you do that, or at least educate people that your coffee is hotter/more dangerous than any other coffee out there?

I am amazed at how many people are taking the stance that "reducing unreasonable and unnecessary risk" is equivalent to "eliminating any and all risk". Everyone is agreed that hot coffee can cause scalded tongues and minor burns if spilled. Should I expect (with normal use) the risk of $10K - 100K hospitalization due to an 89 cent product, when there is no reason for it?


Originally posted by Bob McAdams
I don't see how McDonald's coffee is part of this argument, which is about competitive swimmers being allowed to use the starting blocks to practice their starts.

This came up, because someone used it as an example of frivilous lawsuits. Some of us have stated, once all the facts are in, this case in not frivilous. (You can still think the outcome was wrong, without thinking the case had no merit.) I've made an effort to stop posting, but others have persisted (which required a response :) .)


Originally posted by Bob McAdams
A pool has a clearly posted policy that says: "Starting blocks may only be used in otherwise vacant lanes by certified swimmers." Only 4 of the 6 lanes are in use. Swimmer #5, who has a certification badge on his suit, informs the lifeguard that he is going to be practicing starts in one of the empty lanes. Why shouldn't this be allowed?

What do you mean by certification? Like those Red Cross swimming courses? That would provide a means to let the lifeguard know that the swimmer has passed a certain level of competance, without requiring a guess. On the face of it, that would seem to be reasonable (to me). Anyone to play Devil's Advocate? :)

Conniekat8
July 22nd, 2004, 12:56 PM
Originally posted by KenChertoff
The point I was trying to make is that the general rule in the United States is that the verdict should reflect that by reducing the plaintiff's recovery (if any) in proportion to his own responsiblity -- it's not an all or nothing result.

yea, I agree with you on that one.
I was jsut curious, did something i say make it sound different, or are you just making a general statement to point out that fact...
Because It was not my intention to claim that it is all or nothing, although I do think that MCDonalds share should be very small... definately not 80%
I'm thinking at most 5-10%.

KenChertoff
July 22nd, 2004, 01:05 PM
Conniekat:

I thought you might be assuming that any verdict for the plaintiff, meant that his or her own fault was disregarded -- although, I'm not sure why I did, now. But, I was just making a general statement.:) (I don't have any opinion what the percentage should be; I don't know enough about the facts.)

Phil Arcuni
July 22nd, 2004, 01:05 PM
Hot coffee is a beverage, it can be (carefully) sipped. Coffee at 190 degrees is not a beverage, it can not be sipped. Used normally as a beverage people will get hurt.

A very sharp knife is still a functional knife. Used normally as a knife it will work.

This point has been made repeatedly and was accepted by the judge and the jury, and becomes an established fact. If you refuse to acknowledge it we live in alternate realities, where mine is based on physics and biology and yours is based on urban myth.

KenChertoff
July 22nd, 2004, 01:22 PM
Originally posted by Bob McAdams

A pool has a clearly posted policy that says: "Starting blocks may only be used in otherwise vacant lanes by certified swimmers." Only 4 of the 6 lanes are in use. Swimmer #5, who has a certification badge on his suit, informs the lifeguard that he is going to be practicing starts in one of the empty lanes. Why shouldn't this be allowed?

I think this is where I came in. :p

I've already said that I think that's OK, IF the facility management can make it work, which they may not be able to. They have to consider many factors including the GENERAL level of competence of their users, not just the most experienced. How confident are they that ALL their users will understand and follow the rules? Left turns aren't a good analogy, since ALL drivers are supposed to pass a road test -- not the case in public lap swim hours. (By the way, left turns aren't allowed on some of the busier streets in NYC.) They have to take into account the least competent users -- that's just a fact of life in public lap swim.

They also have to consider how busy the facility is -- setting aside a lane takes one away from other users and an empty lane may not stay that way for long.

If the facility can do it, fine -- I won't criticize them for not doing it.

Conniekat8
July 23rd, 2004, 03:38 AM
Originally posted by Scansy
This one irked me too. I realize that there are legitimate cases where people have gland or hormone or other problems that make them gain weight. ....


Disease doesn't have to imply it's an involuntary condition. It jsut means - unhealthy, and I think we all agree on obesity being unhealthy.
Lot of diseases can be voluntarily self-inflicted. Sometimes intentionally, other times just out of lack of care or giving in to impulses. The resulting condition can still end up being a disease.

What irks me is that people use disease as yet another cop-out to absolve themselves of personal responsibility for their health.

Conniekat8
July 23rd, 2004, 03:47 AM
Originally posted by Phil Arcuni

I did not think that I needed to look up to be sure someone was not jumping into the lane before I moved into it. My colleague did not expect someone to suddenly move into a lane that he just observed was clear.


heh, I learned that one about the first week of swimming in a crowded pool.
Since then I've grown eyes on the back of my head and bottom of my feet - so to speak.

Conniekat8
July 23rd, 2004, 03:59 AM
Originally posted by emmett
Imagine the list of modern conveniences we would have to do without if Big Bad Corporations had to stop providing them (or dumb them down) because a very tiny minority of people using poor judgement, a diminished skill set or less than prudent caution, manage to hurt themselves. Absent a modicum of personal responsibility darn near ANYTHING can be hazardous to your health (the Darwin Awards come to mind here.)


Isn't that why the plastic bags have a warning label "do not put over your head" and my blow dryer says "do not use in shower"
"Do not eat toner." -- On a toner cartridge for a laser printer.
"Do not use orally." -- On a toilet bowl cleaning brush.
"Remember, objects in the mirror are actually behind you." -- On a motorcycle helmet-mounted rear-view mirror.
"Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage." -- On a portable stroller.

makes me wonder what kind of lawsuits caused these... :p

and few others...
http://www.rinkworks.com/said/warnings.shtml

Conniekat8
July 23rd, 2004, 04:02 AM
Originally posted by mattson
I don't see how knives are part of this argument. If everyone else's knives cause you a small cut (normal cup of coffee), and brand X causes gangrene/hand chopped off/whatever at a high rate (3rd degree burn from overly hot coffee), then maybe you'll have something.


I have a set of 'ginsu' knives. Can I sue now?
oh, darn, I never cut myself with them... but man, they're as sharp as the commercials claim.
Love them for cooking and paring etc...

Conniekat8
July 23rd, 2004, 04:08 AM
Originally posted by Bob McAdams
I don't see how McDonald's coffee is part of this argument, which is about competitive swimmers being allowed to use the starting blocks to practice their starts.

A more relevant question is whether cars should be allowed to turn at intersections.

Left turns should clearly never be allowed, because a car that is turning left could be hit by a car that is travelling the other way going straight. Of course, the car that is turning left could watch for cars going the other way and wait until there's nothing coming. But what if a car comes zooming through at the last minute and the driver doesn't see it?

And right turns are not really safe either, since a car that is turning right has to slow down to turn. What if a car that is going straight doesn't see that he's slowing down and rams him? Or what if he hits a pedestrian who is crossing at the intersection?

The fact is that everything I've just said is perfectly true and valid. The only thing it ignores is the fact that people need to turn. But if you even consider that fact, you are admitting that rules and regulations should take into account what people need and not just safety.

All of which brings us back to the topic:

A pool has a clearly posted policy that says: "Starting blocks may only be used in otherwise vacant lanes by certified swimmers." Only 4 of the 6 lanes are in use. Swimmer #5, who has a certification badge on his suit, informs the lifeguard that he is going to be practicing starts in one of the empty lanes. Why shouldn't this be allowed?

because on an off chance something goes wrong, someone will most likely get sued, or at least they're afraid that they might, and some facility may end up losing it's insurance and having to close doors... so rather than risking that, they tighten the rules.
This is where the generalized impression that there are too many sue happy people out there spoils it for everyone.
Sort of borderlines to the zero tolerance policies that are getting more and more popular... again, lack of common sense and generalized fear of something happening and someone being held responsible for something they couldn't predict happening.

Fitswimmer04
July 23rd, 2004, 11:09 AM
This is my favorite-"how dumb can people be? or What lawsuit brought this one on" In the shower area of my Y, there is a sign that says "Wet Floor" Now, please. It really is a sad commentary on the state of our society that we have to have a sign telling people that the floor may be wet in the shower area!

Guvnah
July 26th, 2004, 01:49 PM
Originally posted by Guvnah
I do almost all my swimming at YMCAs. Even when I travel. (Love that AWAY program!) I may have visited 50 different facilities coast to coast by now. Most Ys don't even have blocks available. One in Bridgewater NJ has permanent blocks, and lots of teams that use the facility, but non-team swimmers -- no matter how good or experienced or capable they are -- cannot use the blocks. I'll be visiting some near Orlando next week, including the big one on International Drive, so I'll be sure to keep an eye out for policies there.




Just thought I would close the loop regarding something I wrote early in this thread.

I visited three different YMCAs in Florida last week, including the Aquatic Center in Orlando. None allowed uncoached starts from the blocks. The Aquatic Center had posted rules. One of them was "Always enter water feet first." I chatted with a life guard there. "Unless the coach is on the deck, no starts from the blocks." That even applied to sanctioned team participants -- they couldn't use the blocks until their coach was there.

Guvnah
July 26th, 2004, 02:09 PM
Originally posted by Tom Ellison

Each of us pay for these law suits in the form of increased prices/rates. ...


This is very true. In the long run McDonalds did not end up paying the settlement. We consumers did.

And, as if this thread has not been ratholed enough, I'll just say that we (consumers) also ultimately pay all corporate income taxes too.

Fitswimmer04
July 27th, 2004, 07:37 AM
Yes we do. Everybody wants to tax the "big, bad corporations" that have all the money, but what they don't realize is that the first thing they will do is pass those increases on in terms of not only higher prices, but layoffs. I never got a job from a poor person-rich people, and rich corporations create jobs. If you want to work, you want companies to make money that they can reinvest in new business. Also, the higher the tax on the corporation in the US, the more likely they are to take their business (and their jobs) overseas to a more tax friendly environment.

Phil Arcuni
July 27th, 2004, 10:58 AM
Each of us pay for these law suits in the form of increased prices/rates. ...

Really? If McDonalds has to charge higher prices, I can always go to Burger King or Taco Bell. How is that an increased rate? That way, irresponsible corporations learn a lesson in a competitive environment.

McDonalds, as an irresponsible corporation, was certainly doing something that raised my health insurance costs.

Things change in a monopoly, which is why monopolies are more heavily regulated.

swimpastor
August 30th, 2004, 11:23 AM
Not wanting or meaning in any way shape or form to demean our great American diving team, or the way they have worked hard to admirably represent themselves, their families, their sport, and our country at these just finished Athens games, I will suggest that our wholesale societal surrender to both trial lawyers and insurance companies is very closely related to the fact that the American diving program is not bringing any hardware home from the games. No evil diving boards in YMCA's or at community pools where kids could first get enthused about the sport = no diving medals. (Please don't question whether or not I value Olympic medals more than I value human life - I believe the risks of having diving boards is manageable, and honestly believe that this all is really more about financial loss rather than about the potential loss of life or limb.)

Last week I received notice of two class action lawsuit settlements I am eligible to participate in. (It won't be long until I receive as many class action lawsuit notices each week as I do pre-approved credit card offers.) In both instances, neither of the defendants who have agreed to the lawyers demands wronged me, even though the lawyers told them they did. (Whether or not a judge would have agreed is immaterial, as who needs the hassle of letting it go to court.) If I were to subscribe to either of the settlements, I might get a couple of bucks - literally - but what are the lawyers getting? I shudder to wonder.