Trial Lawyers created the film Hot Coffee to document
our civil justice system. But something was missing:

The whole truth.

Now, a panel of legal experts dissects fact from fiction...

Select Episode:

Episode 1:Is Hot Coffee the whole truth? Or nothing but?

Do the movie’s compelling stories really represent the truth about America’s lawsuit system? A panel of legal experts watches Hot Coffee and reacts.

Select Episode:

Episode 2:A Defining Moment: What is a Tort?

Hot Coffee tries to redefine what a tort is, and in so doing sets the stage for a film full of mischaracterizations and inaccuracies.

Select Episode:

Episode 3:Old McDonald’s: The facts

The panel separates legal fact from Hollywood fiction in the case from which the movie takes its name.

Select Episode:

Episode 4:Liability Limits: Does Nebraska’s law really represent the rule?

Panelists discuss how Hot Coffee deftly presents a story from a single state that leaves viewers with the false impression that it represents the national norm.

Select Episode:

Episode 5:Judicial Elections: Who really gives?

The trial bar virtually invented special interest money in judicial elections, spending millions over decades to elect sympathetic judges. But you’d never know it from watching the movie. The panel sets the record straight.

Select Episode:

Episode 6:Arbitrary About Arbitration

As it does throughout, Hot Coffee examines broad legal issues through a narrow political kaleidoscope, this time on the issue of arbitration. Do arbitration requirements prohibit “your day in court?” The panel says “no way.”

About the Panelists

Judge Jon R. Gray

Judge Jon R. Gray

Judge Jon Gray has the unique experience of sitting on both sides of the practice of law: as a Missouri State Circuit Judge and as a private practitioner.

Judge Gray retired from judicial service in April of 2007 after serving for 20 years as Circuit Judge, State of Missouri, Jackson County Circuit Court. He now practices law as a partner of Shook, Hardy and Bacon LLP in the firm’s Kansas City office.

Judge Gray received his Juris Doctor in 1976 from the University of Missouri’s Kansas City School of Law, and an A.B. degree from Grinnel College three years earlier.

He is a member of the Missouri Bar, the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, the Jackson County Bar Association, and the Eastern Jackson County Bar Association.

He is active in his community, serving also as a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, a board member of the Truman Medical Centers, and as a member of the Boards of the Greater Kansas Community Foundation, Theta Boule Foundation, the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, Swope Community Enterprises, Swope Community Builders, and the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority.

Professor Sheila B. Scheuerman

Professor Sheila B. Scheuerman

An accomplished author and educator, Sheila Scheuerman presently serves as Associate Professor of Law at the Charleston School of Law in South Carolina where she teaches on torts and liability. She also serves as Director of Faculty Development and Scholarship at that institution, and is co-editor of the TortsProf Blog.

Her law teaching experience includes: Civil Procedure I & II, Mass Torts Seminar, Federal Courts, Professional Responsibility, and the Supreme Court Seminar, Products Liability, and Legal Research and Writing. She has been Symposium Chair, Punitive Damages, Due Process and Deterrence: The Debate After Philip Morris v. Williams. She was also served as organizer of the Southeastern Law Scholars Conference at various times and organized a national symposium on the Supreme Court’s most recent decision on punitive damages.

Professor Scheuerman’s articles on torts and class action have been published in various journals, including: the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, the Missouri Law Review, the Baylor Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, and the Harvard Journal on Legislation.

Professor Scheuerman is a 1997 graduate of Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, where she placed in the top 10 percent of her class and was awarded the Scholar in Law Award, the Order of the Coif, and was Notes Editor of the Washington University Law Quarterly. She received her LL.M degree in May of 2006 from the Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, PA, where she was the Honorable Abraham L. Freedman Fellow. She received her undergraduate degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worchester, Massachusetts, graduating cum laude and serving as Chair of Student Programs for Urban Development/Grandkids Program. She also studied Chinese culture, language, and politics for six months at Nanjing University in China.

Professor Paul Figley

Professor Paul Figley

Paul Figley is a veteran torts expert, having served for 15 years as the Deputy Director in the Torts Branch of the United States Department of Justice’s Civil Division. Since 2006, he has served as Associate Director of Legal Rhetoric at American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, DC where he also teaches torts.

During his career at Justice, Professor Figley represented the United States and its agencies in appellate and district court litigation involving torts, national security, and information law. As Torts Branch Deputy Director, he worked to protect the public and develop Federal Tort Claims Act jurisprudence by supervising litigation, setting litigation priorities, and supervising tort settlements. He managed more than 20 attorneys and worked closely with numerous agency counsels and Assistant United States Attorneys.

In 2005, he received the Civil Division Award for Dedicated Service, an honor given to six of 700 attorneys serving in the Civil Division.

Professor Figley’s expertise is in legal writing, tort law, and motions practice. His success in practice is reflected in his 78 reported decisions. By way of representative sample, he supervised the government's defense of tort litigation arising from Hurricane Katrina and personally represented the United States in tort litigation brought by owners of the Sudanese chemical plant President Clinton ordered destroyed.

Professor Figley graduated from Southern Methodist University School of Law where he was Leading Articles Editor for the Journal of Air Law & Commerce. He earned his B.A. cum laude from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

He is also published author in venues such as the Michigan Law Review and the Journal of Legal Education. The American Bar Association published his book, A Guide to the Federal Tort Claims Act, in January of 2012.

Victor Schwartz

About the Moderator…

Victor Schwartz

Victor Schwartz has authored over 150 law review articles analyzing almost every major aspect of modern tort and civil justice law. Some of his recent articles have focused on stare decisis in tort law, global warming, the law of public nuisance, and a guide to judges on interpreting consumer protection acts. For more than two decades, Mr. Schwartz has been co-author of the most widely used torts casebook in the United States, Prosser, Wade and Schwartz’s Torts (12th ed. 2010). He also is author of the leading text, Comparative Negligence (5th ed. 2010).

Mr. Schwartz is frequently quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. He has appeared on Oprah, 60 Minutes, and network news programs. He has been named by The Legal Times of Washington as one of Washington’s Top 30 “Visionary” lawyers from over the past 30 years, and by the National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the United States.

Before entering the full time practice of law, Mr. Schwartz was a professor and dean at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He currently serves on the College’s Board of Visitors. Mr. Schwartz obtained his B.A. summa cum laude from Boston University and J.D. magna cum laude from Columbia Law School. He is a member of the bars of New York, Ohio and the District of Columbia.

Schwartz is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of the Kansas City-based law firm of Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. and chairs its Public Policy Group. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Searle Civil Justice Institute at George Mason University School of Law and is a frequent participant in judicial education programs.

Back to Top