McDonald’s Sued For Hot Coffee Spill
We all remember this lawsuit. McDonald’s was sued after an elderly woman spilled piping hot coffee on herself. She claimed in the lawsuit that McDonald’s served their coffee at a scalding temperature and her injuries would not have been nearly as severe had they served coffee at a lower temperature. Ultimately, she won her lawsuit, but not for the amount the jury assigned. Her injuries, on the other hand, were quite severe. She needed skin grafts to repair the damage to her body. In that case, the plaintiff alleged that the McDonald’s employee failed to secure the lid properly and without a cupholder, the plaintiff secured the coffee between her knees in her lap. However, the lip popped off causing scalding hot coffee to burn her legs and her personal areas. She suffered third-degree burns as a result of the spill.
Now, decades later, McDonald’s is being sued again over a hot coffee spill. However, the allegations, in this case, are a little bit different. The plaintiff alleges that the McDonald’s worker failed to secure the lid properly and dumped the coffee onto a driver at the drive-thru. The plaintiff alleges that her left wrist and thigh were burned.
The original lawsuit did force McDonald’s to serve colder coffee
While many derided the lawsuit as frivolous, that lawsuit brought forth actionable changes in how McDonald’s served their coffee. The plaintiff was successfully able to argue that McDonald’s served its coffee at a piping hot 180 degrees which could easily lead to third-degree burns. After the litigation, McDonald’s began serving their coffee several degrees colder than before to avoid the potential for future lawsuits.
In most cases, people think that if you spill your coffee on yourself, it’s your fault. However, McDonald’s did contribute negligence by serving the coffee overly hot.
The new lawsuit
The new lawsuit simply alleges that the McDonald’s employee erred in the transfer of the coffee from the employee to the driver at the drive-thru. Instead of ensuring that the coffee was safely in the driver’s hand, the employee let go and the coffee fell into her window, burning her leg and hand. A lawsuit like this would be much easier to win than a lawsuit that alleges that the customer spilled the coffee on themselves. That’s because the jury can readily see how the McDonald’s employee erred when serving the coffee. It was because of a lack of care that the employee let go of the coffee too early. However, the damages are likely to be much lower because the coffee was not served at 180 degrees and therefore, did not cause third-degree burns or require skin grafts to repair.
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