But now people use it as an example of rush to judgement, when really, people were mostly right about it in the first place. She shouldn't have put fresh coffee in her crotch. McD's still brews their coffee just as hot because that is how you are supposed to. She shouldn't have gotten a dime.
There is a defensible case that the particular level of coffee temperature, combined with some rational standard for how it should be labeled, combined with general consumer preferences for temperature and understanding of what to expect when served coffee, all together imply that McDonald's acted negligently.
But that debate is always short-circuited in discussions about the case, where everyone is tripping over each other to say, "oh, you disagree with the verdict? I guess you didn't see these pictures [NSFW]. Checkmate, skeptics."
Or worse, "the lawyers were really aloof when Liebeck was trying to be cool."
Those really aren't good reasons to make a decision.
Back in '94 the media was in better shape and had more than enough resources to do it right, but they didn't.
No, it wasn't. The mid-1990s was pretty much the modern minimum for health of the US media; it was the end of decades of decline driven by corporate consolidation and cutting local resoures in traditional media, and before competing new media provided alternatives and spurred new efforts in traditional media.
Just going off my own recollection, it looks like broadcast has fragmented into a million irrelevant outposts, all racing each other to the bottom.
Print seems to be in even worse shape. In the southeast, almost every paper outside of the largest state metro has been shuttered and centralized into a state-wide newsroom running on a skeleton crew.
I don't know how those trajectories gets classified as improvements...
Source? Particularly since places like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts that do not offer free refills serve at roughly the same temperature.