President's Message

by John J. Kennedy, Jr.


On Hot Coffee

It seems like it comes up in every jury selection: the dreaded “McDonald’s coffee case.”  The only thing unusual about this for me recently was that a defense lawyer specifically asked about it before a juror pontificated that she believed many civil cases were “unjustified,” “unwarranted” and “exaggerated,” and that non-economic damages should be limited.  I obviously raised an objection to the juror serving on the case, which was properly sustained and the juror was excused for cause. 

This scenario has played out in courtrooms all over Connecticut hundreds (if not thousands) of times.  The problem is one of juror or public mindset created by media spin.  The “facts” of the McDonald’s coffee case as presented by the corporate influenced media are not facts at all, but pure fantasy. 

Enter Susan Saladoff and her documentary Hot Coffee: The Movie.  Now I’m no move critic (just ask my wife) but this is a five star, two thumbs up, can’t miss flick.  Hot Coffee has a definite slant – a slant that reveals the real facts.  Every one of our members should watch it and watch it again.  Every member should purchase a copy and show it to their family and friends.    

Saladoff’s Hot Coffee shreds the fictional version of the McDonald’s coffee case and presents the case through the lens of truth.  The movie also demonstrates through other case studies the lunacy of tort “reform” and “caps,” and their real (human) cost. The movie is informative, educational and frankly inspirational. 

So, if you are looking for a holiday gift this year for your most tort-reform minded friends, consider this movie a little stocking stuffer.  Better yet, purchase a copy of Hot Coffee and donate it to your local high school or public library.  My hope is that we might be able to persuade some of those future jurors one showing at a time. Follow the link below to view the movie trailer or purchase a copy of Hot Coffee: The Movie:

On CTLA’s Legislative Agenda  

I write this message on the morning after CTLA completed its Legislative Retreat, during which the CTLA Board of Governors considered and discussed over 30 legislative proposals that were submitted by CTLA members.  The proposed bills include all areas of our practice, including workers’ compensation, medical malpractice, employment law, automobile and other liability cases.  Most impressive, each bill that we discussed focused not on what would be good for trial lawyers, but what would be good for victims and the broader public.  I want to personally thank the members who forwarded these thoughtful proposals, as well as the Board Members who sat through the long (and sometimes tedious) process of vetting the bills.  

On CTLA’s Broader Goals This Year 

Our agenda for the remainder of my term as President will be typical of what has been done in the past.  Quite simply, our goal has been and will continue to be advancing and ensuring principals of justice for our clients in the courts.  On the legislative front, we will continue to support bills that help our clients receive compensation in the courts and oppose bills that limit their right to do so.  

We also will continue to present the best educational seminars we can to improve our members knowledge and skills.  And once again, we will stage a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity, a worthy organization that CTLA raised almost Fifty thousand dollars for last year. 

As a larger goal, my hope is to have broader and better participation of trial lawyers in our organization.  There are trial lawyers who are not members (and should be), and others who are members, but participate in very limited ways.  We would also like to raise our membership profile to include more young and diverse members.  As active members, you are our best spokespeople.  If you know trial lawyers who are not members, please encourage them to join and participate in what we have to offer.  

On The Forum

As a final thought, I would like to personally thank Paul Slager for taking over the editor’s reins of the Forum.  I know that he will ably fill the large shoes of David Rosen who did yeoman’s work for many years. 

If you have any CTLA related suggestions, issues or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly by email or telephone.

John J. Kennedy, Jr. CTLA President
(203) 865-8430