The Times probably wrote the editorial anticipating jokes and other cynical descriptions of the case that might suddenly appear on late night talk shows, just like they did years ago about that other McDonald’s "burned customer" case. Not that we have anything against jokes, but when they’re used to convince the American public to give up their own fundamental rights (i.e., “tort reform”), it’s a bit of a problem.
As the Center for Justice & Democracy put it, “Anecdotal descriptions of a few atypical lawsuits intended to shock or amuse the public have been the cornerstone of the business community’s anti-jury advertising and public relations campaign since the 1980s. Focusing on a few rare, anecdotal cases, instead of the majority of cases that pass through the courts each year, feeds into a false and dangerous perception that the system is overflowing with frivolous lawsuits.” Even though these case descriptions are highly misleading and constantly debunked, truth often doesn’t matter.
There is a great book that talks about how this all works, called "Distorting the Law; Politics, Media, and the Litigation Crisis" by William Haltom and Michael McCann. Others have written about it too.
Not that we should be too surprised given the gazillions of dollars sunk into hundreds of conservative, industry-sponsored organizations, “think-tanks,” public relations, polling and lobbying firms dedicated to wiping out corporate liability for wrongdong (like the American Tort Reform Association, American Enterprise Institute, American Legislative Exchange Council, Americans for Job Security, Center for Individual Rights, Federalist Society, National Association of Manufacturers, Manhattan Institute, Competitiveness Enterprise Institute, Washington Legal Foundation, and of course, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to name just a few national groups, let alone what goes on at the state level).
When you think about it, these “tort reformers” have accomplished something incredible. They’ve used anecdotes to turn the American public's mind against a fundamental element of our democracy – the civil justice system - while breeding fear, anger and contempt for those who use the courts – people just like themselves. That’s some PR feat.