Thank you for pointing that out.
I'm more than happy to ***** about our frivolous lawsuit happy society but the often misrepresented 'McDonalds cofffee lawsuit' has no part in those discussions.
Ms. Liebeck originally only sued for her medical expenses AFTER McDonalds rejected her claim and denied any liability.
During the trial it came out that McDonalds had had 700 claims for coffee burns in the preceding 10 year period, some of them 3rd degree as Ms. Liebeck's were.
McDonalds disclosed in discovery that they held their coffee at 180-190 degrees, well beyond industry standards and their own QA Manager Director testified that any food above 140 degrees represents a burn hazard yet McDonalds refused to lower their temperatures.
Ms. Liebeck never received a "huge" settlement, the jury awarded her $200,000 in actual damages that was then reduced because it was determined she was 20% at fault for the injury. The jury DID slap McDonalds with 2.7 million in punitive damages, the judge reduced that to $480,000 despite calling McDonalds conduct "reckless, willful and callous".
The parties eventually entered a sealed settlement.
I nice summation of the entire thing can be found here: http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm
A picture of some of the poor woman's burns can be seen here (*NOTE: it is NOT an especially graphic image, the wounds are nearly healed) http://pratlaw.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/an-old-posting-i-always-wanted-to-have-referenced/