Well, not exactly.
"A twelve-person jury reached its verdict on August 18, 1994. Applying the principles of comparative negligence, the jury found that McDonald's was 80% responsible for the incident and Liebeck was 20% at fault. Though there was a warning on the coffee cup, the jury decided that the warning was neither large enough nor sufficient. They awarded Liebeck US$200,000 in compensatory damages, which was then reduced by 20% to $160,000. In addition, they awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages. The jurors apparently arrived at this figure from Morgan's suggestion to penalize McDonald's for one or two days' worth of coffee revenues, which were about $1.35 million per day. The judge reduced punitive damages to $480,000, three times the compensatory amount, for a total of $640,000. The decision was appealed by both McDonald's and Liebeck in December 1994, but the parties settled out of court for an undisclosed amount less than $600,000."
"My mother had a slip and fall accident at Wal-Mart a few years back and she hired an attorney. After 2 years they finally settled the case. She at that time wrote a letter to this attorney and also to the head of his office about how disappointed she had been with his work ethics. She only settled because she simply got tired and frustrated with his lack of skills. My question to you now, is it possible to reopen a case like this after it has once been settled."
And you can see here, who the P.I. Attorneys are targeting as clients - the lower classes. The very poor believe in Litigation Lottery - even if it really isn't real. They believe in real lotteries as well - and that you can "get rich quick" if you know the "secrets" to investing. In short, you can sell the poor anything at all. They will buy shit-on-a-stick if you pitch it right. And the P.I. Attorney is an excellent example of that.
UPDATE December 18, 2013: I attended a law conference in Savannah, and the litigating attorneys who spoke there were quite illuminating. One mentioned that some firms here spend over a million dollars a year on television and billboard advertising. There are a million people in the greater Chatham County area - that works out to a buck per person.
I mentioned to the speaker, during the break, that was a lot of money to spend, and he said, "Yea, and they make their money all on these shitty $3000 cases!"
Right there, you see how much "Litigation Lottery" pays - little to nothing, half the time.
What was interesting is that they described how the system worked before Lawyer advertising went into effect. Back then, a referring attorney would get as much as 50% of the litigating attorney's fees. If you were a litigating attorney, most of your business was by referral - and as a result, you paid out a lot, in terms of fee-splitting with other Attorneys.
So a Billboard or TV ad is a great way for a law firm to cut out the middle-man and avoid paying referral fees.
For all those shitty little $3000 cases.......