McDonalds, hot coffee, is it a legitimate personal injury case? The case was decided nearly two decades ago, but people still talk about it, especially when they are talking about “crazy lawsuits.” Or at least people think about this case every time they are in a McDonald’s drive-thru.
But, there’s a story behind the case of the hot, hot coffee.
Keep smiling because it’s actually really interesting. Take notes and impress your friends and family at the next gathering.
The victim was a 79-year-old woman who was a passenger in her grandson’s car. She ordered a cup of coffee for 49 cents which was served to her in a Styrofoam cup. The grandson stopped the car to allow his grandmother to add cream and sugar to the coffee. She held onto the cup between her legs, trying to remove the lid. Unfortunately, during the process, the entire contents spilled onto her lap, burning her.
She was burned over 6 percent of her body and hospitalized for eight days while the doctors skin grafted her groin area with new skin. After this process, she asked McDonald’s for $20,000 to settle her claim. McDonalds refused.
The case went to trial and McDonalds had to admit that between 1982 and 1992 there were more than 700 similar claims for burns, some even third-degree burns. McDonalds did not act and refused to change anything.
McDonalds served its coffee at 180-190 degrees to “maintain taste” but they never considered the safety ramifications of serving coffee that hot, even knowing that anything between 180-190 degrees would cause third degree burns in two to seven seconds.
McDonalds admitted that anything served over 140 degrees would cause burns and was not fit for consumption, which should have been a concern to an establishment that served food, but they decided to keep the temperature 50 degrees hotter regardless. Though they argued that customers bought hot coffee to enjoy later, for example, at work, their own research showed that customers tried to consume the coffee as soon as they got it. Well, at least they tried once. And probably not again.
And yes, the victim was awarded $2.86 million but McDonalds appealed, the two sides settled, and a final amount remains confidential.
As for the original award of $2.86 million, it is believed that the jury came up with that number from the victim’s attorney who asked for what McDonalds made only in coffee sales for one or two days. That number in 1994? $1.35 million per day.
Some people may continue to look at this case as ‘crazy’ or ‘frivolous’ but it also stands as a good warning to companies to not disregard hundreds upon hundreds of injuries.
If you’ve been injured by a product, make sure to protect yourself. Enlist the help of an attorney from Christensen Law Firm. They have handled numerous cases and ensure accident victims are fully compensated and protected. They offer free consultations, peace of mind, and excellent results. Contact them today at 801-506-0800.