July 15, 2011

"Hot Coffee" documentary takes aim at media depictions of civil litigation

I've been meaning to post about HBO's "Hot Coffee" documentary ever since reading this Reuters interview with the filmmaker ("Hot Coffee" shows the other side of "frivolous lawsuits").  I can't comment on the film itself because I haven't seen it yet, but I was struck by the overall theme of the article: the author felt compelled to make a film to tell "the other side" of civil litigation, because "[n]obody talks about frivolous defenses" and the other evils perpetrated by defense lawyers and their clients. 

I guess it's all a matter of perspective.  The author perceives that plaintiffs' lawyers have been unfairly vilified and portrayed as bad guys to the American public.  From my perspective, the opposite seems true.  My perception is that nearly every depiction of civil litigation in the media and pop culture portrays plaintiffs' lawyers as heroes, fighting for the little guys against evil corporations who will stop at nothing to make a buck.  I can think of quite a few films that glorify plaintiffs' lawyers, such as Erin Brockovich, A Civil Action, Philadelphia, Class Action.  And didn't we just have another documentary film, Bananas, depicting plaintiffs' lawyers fighting against evil corporations?  I can't really think of any films that glorify civil defense lawyers.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not quitting my job to make a film about the virtues of defense lawyers.  I just don't share the author's views about how civil litigation is usually presented to the American public.