21 Oct Remember the famous McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit?
Some laws try to prevent frivolous litigation from ever reaching the courtroom. The Good Samaritan law protects those who try to help others who are in danger from being victim of a successful lawsuit. This law not only keeps frivolous lawsuits from happening, but also provides incentive to help others in need.
You may be thinking “If the court has so little patience for frivolous proceedings, why have I heard of so many ridiculous cases?” What comes to mind for most is the McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit. The truth is the Plaintiff in that case suffered third degree burns which required skin grafts. Instead of being awarded millions like you’ve heard, she was awarded an amount closer to $460,000, which included medical costs and punitive damages. Most of the lawsuits you’ve heard about have either been presented as frivolous by media sources, or are myths altogether. The court truly has little to no tolerance for frivolous claims.
There are some parties that you cannot file suit against at all, or, only in very limited circumstances. This doctrine is called “Sovereign Immunity.” It originated in old English law, and was inherited into United States law when our nation was founded. Originally it meant that the king cannot be bound by the law, as his throne was the source of the law’s authority. The United States federal government and the state governments likewise have sovereign immunity and can only be sued when they have waived this immunity or otherwise granted permission to be sued in court.