1. Is hot coffee so dangerous, as the jury thought? Should
a reasonable consumer be expected to know that coffee
can burn and to have assumed this risk? Is a warning
label sufficient? Is our society too protective of consumers
these days, or not protective enough?
2. In serving such hot coffee, did McDonald’s act in a morally
responsible way? What ideals, obligations, and effects
should it have taken into consideration?
3. McDonald’s claims that most consumers would prefer
to have their coffee too hot rather than not hot enough.
After all, if it’s too hot, they can always wait a minute
before drinking it. Suppose this is true. How does it affect
McDonald’s responsibilities? Given that McDonald’s serves
millions of cups of coffee every week, how important are a
few hundred complaints about its coffee being too hot?
4. Was Liebeck only 20 percent responsible for her injuries?
Do you agree with the amount of compensatory and
punitive damages that the jury awarded her? If not, what
would have been a fairer monetary award?
5. Should juries be permitted to award punitive damages
in product liability cases? If so, should there be a limit
to what they can award? Is it right for a jury to award
punitive damages against one company in order to send
a message to a whole industry?