Hot coffee and McDonald's have a famously sordid history, as the breakfast and burger chain has been the target of some of the most well-known fast food lawsuits. And history is repeating itself as another person is suing the chain after allegedly being burned by coffee. Mable Childress, a woman in her 80s, is accusing a store in San Francisco and its employees of negligence in the beverage preparation and for refusing to help her after hot coffee spilled on her when the lid popped off. The lawsuit alleges that she received severe burns, including scarring on her groin, and that the location should be responsible for medical expenses incurred from the incident. The plaintiff purchased the cup of coffee at the drive-thru, and she claims that the coffee cup lid was not properly secured, causing it to pop off and spill the contents as she went on her way. The lawsuit claims that in addition to burns, she suffered ongoing pain from the injuries and severe emotional distress.
The plaintiff's lawyer told SFGate that when she asked for help, "They didn't give her the time of day ... Nobody helped her whatsoever. She had to get to the hospital herself." However, the franchise owner of the location at 1100 Fillmore Street, Peter Ou, contradicts that claim. In a statement to Tasting Table, Ou said, "My restaurants have strict food safety protocols in place, including training crew to ensure lids on hot beverages are secure. We take every customer complaint seriously – and when Ms. Childress reported her experience to us later that day, our employees and management team spoke to her within a few minutes and offered assistance. We're reviewing this new legal claim in detail."
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McDonald's Has A Famous History With Hot Coffee And Burns
The new plaintiff's hot coffee case is in civil court, and if she wins, could receive over $25,000 in damages. Details of this lawsuit and the potential payout immediately recall the case of Liebeck v. McDonald's, one of the most famous fast food stories ever. In 1994, a woman in Albuquerque attempting to recoup medical expenses (after being offered only $800 by McDonald's) later settled in court for $600,000, which was a fair bit less than the $2.9 million a jury was willing to grant her. While that case has become a pop culture punchline, the details that came out in court show that coffee that is "too hot" can be a real problem. McDonald's coffee at the time was, in fact, significantly hotter than most other fast food coffees, being served near boiling at 190 degrees Fahrenheit, and Liebeck received third-degree burns that required serious surgery.
That lawsuit led to McDonald's serving its coffee at a safer temperature, but cases suing the chain over hot coffee spills have continued to reach the court, including others like the current case that centered on improperly secured lids. While the details of this incident will have to be hashed out in court or through a settlement, these incidents aren't typically the jokes they're made out to be.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.