"Hot Coffee" Documentary Premieres on HBO

A documentary focusing on the McDonald's "hot coffee" lawsuit that made headlines across the globe almost 15 years ago premiered on HBO on June 27.

The 1994 lawsuit changed the face of personal injury suits after a jury awarded an elderly woman about $3 million in punitive damages after she received third-degree burns after spilling a cup of hot McDonald's coffee. The plaintiff, Stella Liebeck, then sued the fast food chain, claiming the coffee was defective and more likely to cause serious injuries than coffee served at other establishments due to its excessive heat.

However, although the McDonald's case has become a punch line for frivolous lawsuits, the documentary, aptly titled "Hot Coffee," actually attempts to dispel the notion that U.S. courts are filled with idiotic personal injury suits and greedy lawyers. Instead, the documentary focuses on four people who have been left in dire financial and emotional situations as a result of state-imposed cap on personal injury damages.

The film was directed by Susan Saladoff, who worked as a plaintiff's public interest lawyer before embarking on the documentary in 2009. According to the official website for "Hot Coffee," the film explores how big businesses have used "anecdotes, half-truths and sometimes out and out lies" to limit the average citizens access to the court system.