Occupy Wall Street and the lesson I learned from Stella Liebeck

Do you remember the case of the woman who spilled hot McDonald’s coffee in her lap and was awarded close to 3 million dollars by a jury?

What do you remember about it?

Do you remember everyone talking about what a scam it was and how this was the shining example of tort reform and legal system abuse?

I thought that to be accurate because everything I saw or heard about it backed up that opinion. Major media even reported on it but with incorrect facts.

This movie is an eye-opener, but also one that shows how the deck is stacked against us. http://hotcoffeethemovie.com/

Then I started watching the documentary Hot Coffee, a must-see, which reviews and analyzes the facts of the case. The key word here being “facts.”

Remember, truth does not equal fact. And in this case there is what people perceive to be the “truth” and there are the facts.

Some of the facts: Stella Liebeck, 79, wasn’t driving the car – she was in the passenger seat, parked, when she opened the lid of her coffee and spilled it in her lap, suffering burns so severe that even I, a long-time guest of hospitals, couldn’t look at them when I replayed the segment on HBO GO. Burns so severe Mrs. Liebeck needed skin grafts.

How could I have been so wrong? How could I have joked that the case represented the evils of large jury awards?

And it made me wonder what else I think I know now to be “true,” but is not “factual.”

And the movie in its entirety reminded me that there is a large group of powerful people, media outlet owners, businesses, organizations, and the government officials they promote and purchase, who will stop at nothing to strip away the rights of the common man and woman in this country while they tap our wallets and fatten theirs.

I know I may sound like a conspiracy nut, but if it feels like it’s harder to get by these days because we’re paying for more of everything and wondering why our taxes don’t cover the expenses of this country. Well, it’s not our imagination. Big business continues to manipulate the system to pay less.

These powerful people have done a masterful job of imposing their will on us while we work our asses off to earn a living because companies won’t hire more people, telling us we have to “do more with less” during these tough times. And we do it because we have no choice. There are fewer jobs, which helps keep productivity high.

And that’s why the Occupy Wall Street movement is so important. It’s not about money, it’s about exposing corrupt power – the powerful who set a direction for the country that favors the rich and big business.

But the power-hungry have pushed people too far, grabbed too much of the pie and imposed their will to the point we finally looked up from our iPads to realize we had fewer rights than we did yesterday and the truth they promised was best for us, was not best for us. It was best for them.

Which brings me back to Liebeck v. McDonalds Restaurants. How is it possible any of us condemned and made fun of a 79-year-old woman with disfiguring burns and backed a large corporation that heated its coffee water to 180 to 190 degrees and could have settled for pennies before going to trial?

Was it by accident that the facts of the case got twisted and communicated to portray an elderly woman as the villain and a corporation as the victim? Or was there a greater force at work dropping incorrect facts in the wind?

It makes me wonder what other truths are getting distorted in this country by those in power and those who control the media.

I’ll remember the lesson I learned from the case of Stella Liebeck when I hear and read the truth the rich and powerful feed us as to why they are the victims, and how unions and the poor, the tired, the hungry and the sick are really at fault.