McDonalds Sued Over Hot Coffee Incident

McDonalds Sued Over Hot Coffee

( – McDonald’s has a longstanding history of faring poorly in the courts regarding product liability claims. For instance, in 1995, the company paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars after a jury awarded a woman compensatory and punitive damages after the then-79-year-old customer spilled a scalding cup of coffee on her lap. She suffered third-degree burns, requiring skin grafts, and spent nearly two years recovering from her wounds. In an odd twist of fate, the popular fast-food restaurant faces a new legal action over hot coffee.

On September 14, Mable Childress filed a civil complaint against a California-based McDonald’s franchisee. San Francisco County Superior Court documents show her legal team alleges that workers refused to assist her after she spilled a piping hot cup of coffee on herself. Like the woman in the earlier lawsuit, she is of an advanced age — reportedly in her 80s.

Childress’ lawyers are asking for an award of compensatory damages to cover her medical expenses, emotional stress, scarring, and legal fees. She also seeks exemplary (or punitive) damages and any other remedy the judge deems proper and equitable.

Court documents claim McDonald’s workers ignored her calls for help and breached their “duty of care” by failing to properly secure the coffee cup’s lid to the lip of its container. In civil tort law, duty of care refers to the legal obligation imposed on individuals, groups, and companies to adhere to a standard of reasonable care to avoid reckless acts that could harm others.

Peter Ou, the McDonald’s franchise owner-operator, submitted a written statement via email to news outlets about the lawsuit. He readily acknowledged that the woman spilled coffee on herself. However, he claimed the restaurant’s workers and management team offered her assistance within minutes of receiving her complaint.

Ou also said all his McDonald’s locations adhered to stringent food handling protocols. Likewise, he stated that all workers received training to “ensure lids of hot beverages are secure.”

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