From the discussion above, it is clear that the case of Liebeck v McDonald’s Restaurants is not a frivolous suit. The reason for this can be seen in the facts of the case when on several instances the plaintiff opted to reach a settlement that was way below the court awarded damages. Juxtaposed against the case of Pearson v Chung where Pearson demanded exorbitant sums as compensation. This is also belied by the Judicial Notice that was taken of the Divorce Proceedings that Pearson was going through as well as the financial difficulties that he was currently experiencing.
A frivolous lawsuit is properly characterized as one that has no legal basis to stand on and is used merely to harass or seek “undeserved” compensation for (Stevenson, 2005). In the case of Pearson v Chung, it seems difficult to imagine that the amount of moral damages sought would be commensurate to the injury that was caused by the loss of a pair of trousers. As compared to the case of Liebeck v McDonald’s Restaurants where the complainant actually suffered third degree burns and had to undergo weeks of therapy and treatment (Bagley and Savage, 2006).
As such, the case of Pearson v Chung must be considered as a frivolous suit for there was no proper justification for the case that was filed, initially on the case of the lost trousers and amended to fraud, since the intent of the law is not to overcompensate but rather to return to status quo the situation of the complainant. The applicable law in the case of Liebeck v McDonald’s Restaurants is the law on Torts that allows an injured party to recover from a person who by act or omission causes damage to another for damages (Bagley and Savage, 2006).
This means that under such law if the liability of McDonald’s is sufficiently proven a cause of action exists for Liebeck to recover. The case of Pearson v Chung, on the other hand, is a bogus suit. The only applicable law, which was eventually dismissed by the Court, is the law on Fraud which penalizes a person for active misrepresentation resulting to injury to other parties. It was not sufficiently shown in this case that there was any gross negligence and/or misrepresentation and therefore, Pearson is properly not entitled to any form of damages or compensation. EFFORTS TO REDUCE FRIVOLOUS SUITS:
One way by which these frivolous lawsuits can be reduced is by implementing guidelines that can be used with regard to liabilities of manufacturers and restaurants. In the interest of protecting the interests of consumers, there have been several laws that have been introduced. One of these laws is the Lemon Law which allows the buyer to be compensated in case there is a breach of warranty for the car that was previously purchased (Taylor, 2003). There are essentially two applications for the Lemon Law. The first situation is when there is a breach of the Manufacturer’s warranties (Taylor, 2003).
The second situation is when there are no Manufacturer’s Warranties but there is a violation of Consumer Protection Laws (Taylor, 2003). It must be remembered, however, that there are variations of the Lemon Law from State to State. As such, what is protected in one state may not be protected in another. It has been argued that the Lemon Law should be extended to other consumer products as well. Given the increase in cost in some electronic or mechanical items, it is a good suggestion to do so. One such state that has introduced an extension of the Lemon Law to other items is the California Lemon Law which covers mechanical items.
Lemon-aid is one form of legislation that can help bolster the protection that is granted to consumers. By expanding the scope of Lemon Laws to other products, current Consumer Protection Laws are given more power in protecting consumer interests (Taylor, 2003). Another reason why this is increasingly important is due to the outsourcing that is currently going on and the unreliability of foreign products that are not necessarily part of certain quality control processes that are already commonplace in developed countries. FRIVOLITY OF SUIT:
At this juncture, it must be determined whether or not these cases constitute frivolous lawsuits or valid ones. Anent the first case, Liebeck v McDonald’s Restaurants, the case is clearly meritorious and therefore cannot be considered as a frivolous lawsuit because it clearly establishes injury and liability. According to the findings of the Court, there was no sufficient warning label on the temperature on the beverage and neither were there further precautions taken that were commensurate to the danger that was present.
Under Tort Law, a complainant is entitled to recover when it is shown that the defendant is found guilty of negligence in varying degrees. In this case, there is a clear connection between the negligence of McDonald’s Restaurant and the injury caused. In the second case, it cannot be argued that this was a meritorious case. The facts show that there was no clear connection between the injury suffered and the actions of the defendant. The Court noted that there is no reasonable connection between the exorbitant amount of moral damages that was caused and the loss of the trousers.
Furthermore, it has been noted by several jurists that the allowance of such a case would open the courts of justice up to more frivolous lawsuits such as multimillion dollar suits for the loss of a sock or even just a minor scrape at a carnival bumper car booth. For a Tort Case to prosper there must be negligence on the part of the defendant and a resulting injury or damage suffered by the complainant. Without this, the case is simply a frivolous lawsuit. CONCLUSION: The legal system, as previously mentioned, was set in place to create equality among its citizens.
Never has the legal system been conceptualized as a method of making individuals rich at the expense of others. This slew of frivolous cases only serves to show how much the perception of the Justice System has changed. The emphasis must remain on the dispensation of justice and not the dispensation of damages. It must be remembered that a principle under Tort law and the award of damages is the restitution of the individual. This means that the person, as close as possible, is returned to his status quo prior to the incident.
Never has it been an axiom of Tort Law to enrich a person due to injury caused. The thrust has always been on trying to compensate the person for the loss and suffering that was caused. While this is arguably difficult to establish in the case of moral damages, there are still other methods the courts can use. Perhaps the question that must be asked is this, since when is it permissible or even conscionable to award an injured person much more for the damage caused than to a family that has lost a loved one? WORKS CITED: Bagley, C. E. & Savage, D. W. (2006).
Managers and the legal environment: Strategies for the 21st century (5th ed. ). Mason, OH: Southwestern-Cengage Learning. Chapter 9, pp. 295- 329 and Chapter 10, pp. 335-362. Kelling, George L. , Mary A. Wycoff (December 2002). Evolving Strategy of Policing: Case Studies of Strategic Change. National Institute of Justice. NCJ 198029 Neocleous, Mark (2004). Fabricating Social Order: A Critical History of Police Power. London: Pluto Press, 93-94. ISBN Stevenson, N. (1982) “Criminal Cases in the NSW District Court: A Pilot Study” In J. Basten, M. Richardson, C. Ronalds and G.
Zdenkowski (eds), The Criminal Injustice System Sydney: Australian Legal Workers Group (NSW) and Legal Service Bulletin. Taylor, Nathan F. (2003) Lemon Law – The Standard Reference Guide Miami, Florida: University of Miami School of Law. Weiss, Stewart J. (2005); Missouri V. Seibert: Two-Stepping towards the Apocalypse Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 95, 2005 CASES CITED: Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, P. T. S. , Inc. , No. D-202 CV-93-02419, 1995 WL 360309 (Bernalillo County, N. M. Dist. Ct. Aug. 18, 1994 Pearson v Chung Docket No. 05CA 4302 B