Friday, July 22, 2005

Congratulations, Bill Haltom and Michael McCann

Mark Graber

Congratulations to Bill Haltom and Micheal McCann, whose study of tort reform, DISTORTING THE LAW: POLITICS, MEDIA, AND THE LITIGATION CRISIS (Chicago 2004) has just won the Pritchett Award for the best book published in public law over the last two years. Haltom and McCann do a wonderful expose on how major corporations, posing as tort reformers, have used the mass media to portray a tort crisis that does not exist. Focusing on the famous McDonald's episode and other popular media anecdotes, they highlight how the media, egged on by corporate lawyers, focuses on sensational cases, ignoring both the disturbing practices underlying those cases (McDonald's was repeatedly warned that their coffee was causing injuries) and the more numerous cases in which plaintiffs with powerful tort claims get nothing. Well written and well worth reading. Special congratulations are in order to Professor McCann, as this is his record setting second book (RIGHTS AT WORK) that has won the Pritchett prize.


There are many details of the McDonald's case that are distorted by the plaintiff's side, too. But all you really need to know is this: McDonald's served its coffee at 180 degrees. Boiling temperature, and the temperature at which hot drinks are made at home, is 212 degrees.

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