The Famous $2.9 Million McDonald’s Coffee Burn Case – Frivolous Lawsuit?

Many in the press have branded this case as another “frivolous lawsuit” but let’s take a closer look and see this through the eyes of an experienced Tri-Cities personal injury attorney, and see if the plaintiff didn’t have a legitimate case.

Let’s start with the facts on this personal injury case:

  • McDonald’s was serving coffee to drive-up window customers that was in the 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit range which was hotter than other restaurants were serving and hot enough to cause burns.
  • They were serving it to customers who were in environments (vehicles about to be moved) which where susceptible to spilling.
  • The customer spilled the hot coffee in her lap causing third-degree burns in her pelvic region on 6% of her skin and lesser burns on 16% of her skin.
  • She was hospitalized for eight days and lost 20 pounds while she underwent skin grafting, followed by two years of medical treatment.
  • Furthermore, McDonald’s had already received 700 coffee burn complaints and had already settled for $500,000 with them but McDonald’s quality control manager, Christopher Appleton, testified that this number of injuries was insufficient to cause the company to re-evaluate its practices.

The verdict: 8 days in the hospital and 2 years of treatment for the plaintiff could have been avoided if McDonald’s had used “reasonable care” and lowered the temperature of their coffee below what can cause 3rd degree burns in 12 to 15 seconds and also put warning labels on their cups that were large enough to actually serve as a warning labels.

In this case, though the multi-million dollar award was reduced to less than one million dollars, if the plaintiff had done as the last 700 burn victims had done and settled out of court to begin with she would not have been fairly compensated. She did the right thing in hiring a personal injury attorney to take McDonald’s to task for their negligence and receive compensation for the effects of their negligence.

A personal injury attorney will know how to obtain and present evidence that supports your case. If the case is taken to court, how evidence is presented is critical. You need an attorney who is skilled and experienced to help present your case.

Working with lawyers with experience and skill in personal injury means that you can expect a level of expertise in personal injury law. Unlike general lawyers, personal injury attorneys understand the nuances of this area. They will offer high quality representation by using their experience and skill. Whether at trial or in settlement, experience counts.

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