Careful with that hot coffee in the drive-thru! Looks like there are some more beverage lawsuits in the midst. A Southern Californian woman had filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s alleging injuries from the coffee that was served to her. Folks around the United States are gathering for a collective eye-roll as they think back to the other previous McDonald’s coffee case.
Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the facts surrounding the first case. They are unaware that the first plaintiff sustained third degree burns on her legs to the extent she needed skin grafts. She was in the hospital for several weeks. Even though she was awarded millions in court, the plaintiff settled out of court for much less money.
In the current case, the plaintiff was also injured from the coffee ordered from the drive-thru. However there is an allegation of negligence, and the plaintiff claims the employee negligently placed the plastic lid on the beverage. This is what caused the hot beverage to spill on her. As with the previous case, they are relying on the well-settled legal theory of respondeat superior, meaning the employer is responsible for the negligent actions of their employees. The complaint does not mention the severity of the injuries so it is not certain what type of damages the plaintiff will claim. Different states have different types of injuries but the plaintiff will have a variety of medical, economic, and non-economic damages from which to choose.
However this McDonald’s case was not the first hot beverage case in recent times. In 2010 Starbucks was sued with allegations that the temperature of the tea was too hot, causing the plaintiff to suffer second-degree burns. Like the current McDonald’s case there is also a complaint of the containers being inadequate for the beverage temperature.
But beverages are not the only problem. A suit against Dunkin’ Donuts claimed that the hot hash-browns served to a mother caused injuries to her son. As the boy tried to eat the hash-browns, they burned his mouth and his neck when he dropped them. The chain and many others have faced several hundred lawsuits due to the temperature of the food and beverages being served. Since the first McDonald’s case however, cases such as these typically settle instead of going through a trial.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.