Saladoff Receives ABOTA Media Award for 'Hot Coffee'

BOSTON (Oct. 6, 2012) — The American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) presented the Media Award to filmmaker Susan Saladoff for the feature film “Hot Coffee.” The film explores the real political fight about how businesses spend millions to ensure that citizens don’t have their day in court.

“Hot Coffee” premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film festival to rave reviews and received its broadcast premiere on HBO in June 2011. The film gets its title from the famous McDonald’s coffee case in which 79-year-old Stella Liebeck was awarded $2.9 million by a jury for injuries sustained when she spilled hot coffee on herself while leaving a McDonald’s drive-thru lane as a passenger.
While many television comedians and media accounts have portrayed this case as an example of citizens taking advantage of the legal system, the documentary explores what really happened to Ms. Liebeck. It includes interviews with her, her grandson who was driving the car, as well as her doctor, the lawyers, McDonald’s quality assurance manager and the jurors.
The film asks if the media’s portrayal of this case was fair, or whether there was an agenda by tort reform groups to create a public perception that lawsuits are out of control. How did it become the poster child for tort reform? And how does that affect everyday Americans?
“Ms. Saladoff has done a wonderful job of telling the real story about a number of issues regarding civil lawsuits, including binding clauses in contracts that sign away the right to go to court,” said Robert N. Stone, ABOTA National President. “We’re proud of her efforts to inform the public that access to the courts has been narrowed in many ways.”
Saladoff received the ABOTA Media Award Oct. 6 in Boston during a meeting of the organization’s National Board of Directors. A practicing attorney in the civil justice system for more than 25 years, she is a member of ABOTA’s Oregon Chapter.
The ABOTA Media Award recognizes and honors media for fair and accurate reporting that supports the jury system as guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in the “Bill of Rights.” First and foremost, ABOTA works to uphold the jury system by educating the American public about the history and value of the right to trial by jury.
About Susan Saladoff:
Susan Saladoff has spent more than 25 years practicing law in the civil justice system, representing injured victims of individual and corporate negligence, primarily in the area of medical malpractice. She is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon and Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Cornell University and George Washington University Law School and frequently lectures about trial advocacy and medical malpractice. She has produced, directed and edited several short documentaries, and “Hot Coffee” is her first feature-length film. Ms. Saladoff is a member of the Oregon Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates and is the first member of ABOTA to receive the award. To see “Hot Coffee,” go to It is also available on HBO GO, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and Xbox.
Past Recipients of the ABOTA Media Award
2012 Susan Saladoff,  Documentary Filmmaker
2002 Reynolds Holding,  San Francisco Chronicle 
1999 Gary Abrams,  Los Angeles Daily Journal
1998 Mary Fricker,  The Press Democrat (California)
1997 Myron Levin,   Los Angeles Times 
1996 Herb Denenberg,   Reading Eagle (Iowa)
           Barbara Henry,   Des Moines Register
1995 Coleman McCarthy,  Washington Post
           Howell Raines,  New York Times
1993 Lorna Thackery,  The Billings Gazette (Montana)
           Mike Kataoka,  The Press Enterprise (California)
           Dan Herbeck,  The Buffalo News
           Richard Hyde,  WAGA-TV (Atlanta)
1992 Lorna Thackery,  The Billings Gazette (Montana)
          Jackie Conway-Pratt,   KABC (Los Angeles)
          Julie Hasquet,  KTUU (Anchorage)
1991 Steve Cohen,  New York Magazine
          Stephen Brill,  Court TV
About ABOTA:  
The American Board of Trial Advocates is a national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the right to civil jury trial. For additional information about ABOTA and its educational programming, go to