The Gibson Law Group - September 2021

Remember the ‘McDonald’s Hot Coffee’ Lawsuit? It Was Justified All Along

about the dangers their hot coffee represented, with over 700 recorded burns and several lawsuits. But in 1992, their policy was to store coffee at 180–190 degrees F, which is almost the boiling point! Furthermore, McDonald’s higher-ups testified on the stand that no matter what happened, they had no intention of changing their behavior. Unsurprisingly, at the end of the trial, McDonald’s was hit with a $2.9 million penalty.

Back in 1992, an elderly woman named Stella Liebeck sued McDonald’s in what became known as the infamous “hot coffee lawsuit.” The public relations team at McDonald’s has made sure the case is remembered as frivolous, but, like the third-degree burns Stella Liebeck suffered from a cup of McDonald’s coffee, her lawsuit was dead serious. The facts were simple: Mrs. Liebeck used the drive-thru with her grandson, who was at the wheel. Once the car stopped moving, she placed the cup of coffee she’d just ordered between her legs and tried to add some creamer. The cup tipped over, dumping the contents into her lap, causing third-degree burns over 16% of her body. She required hospitalization for eight days. Whirlpool debridement of the burns and skin grafts followed. She was at least partially disabled for more than two years, and that’s to say nothing of her pain and suffering. For all of this damage, Mrs. Liebeck asked McDonald’s for $20,000 — arguably not even enough to pay her hospital bills. When McDonald’s refused to pay more than $800, the case went to court, and it came out that they’d known for at least 10 years

Although the penalty was later reduced, McDonald’s still dragged Mrs. Liebeck’s name through the mud in the press, with their version of the story being the one that stuck in the public consciousness. But it wouldn’t change the fact that they had to pay her around $700,000 at the end of the day — or that their coffee is now being served at a reasonable temperature.

Here Comes the Sun! The Pros and Cons of Home Solar Panels

replacing. Switching to solar also increases the independence of the whole U.S. electricity grid, and covering your roof with panels can boost the value of your home by as much as $15,000.

Solar power has been all over the news, and odds are good that at least one door-to-door salesperson came knocking this summer to sing their praises. Celebrities like Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, and Pierce Brosnan have invested in solar or installed it on their homes to convert to green energy — but is following in their famous footsteps the right move for your family?

The Cons No One Talks About

The biggest downside of solar is that it simply doesn’t work for every home. If your roof is consistently shaded by trees or poorly oriented for panels, or you live in a rainy climate, your panels might only generate 10%–25% of their energy potential. If you have the space, ground-installed solar panels may work to avoid some of these issues, but they won’t solve weather problems. Solar can also be expensive. Installing it will cost you $15,000– $20,000 on average. For some homeowners, this investment is offset by lower long-term electricity costs, but it might not be affordable for you or make sense if your electricity bill is already low.

The Pros of Powering Up

The biggest selling point for solar panels is that they’re a quick, easy source of green energy. They can reduce or replace fossil fuels in your home, decrease your family’s carbon footprint, and help fight climate change. They’re also a proven technology dating back to 1954, and individual panels can last 25–30 years before they need

CO2-Saving Alternatives

If you want to dip your toes into the world of solar but can’t afford to power your whole home, you can start small with solar lights for your yard, a solar oven, or a solar-powered water heater. You can even explore wind power! Small wind energy systems cost under $500 on or at Home Depot and can lower your electricity bill by 50%–90%.

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