McDonald’s Corp. has been sued a second time for a hot coffee event that sounds similar to the previous case that made national news. The new case, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, stems from a woman claiming she was severely burned after excessively hot coffee spilled onto her lap. Twenty years ago, an uncannily similar scenario resulted in a $2.9 million jury verdict for the plaintiff.
This new case does vary from the original case. The previous case claimed that the coffee itself was brewed to an excessively and dangerously high heat, which resulted in severe personal injury to the plaintiff. Although the 1994 case generated many late-night comedy spoofs (the article even mentions a scene from the hit television show “Seinfeld”) the damage suffered by the plaintiff resulted in third-degree burns and skin graft treatments—no laughing matter to the person injured by the purported negligence.
The large jury award resulted from punitive damages as well, sending a message to McDonald’s Corp. that this type of event should not be repeated. The current claim states that the lid itself was negligently placed on the hot coffee, and according to the article, the extent or severity of the burns has not been disclosed. The likelihood of another large punitive damage award being given is low, but it may be years before the outcome is known.
To be held financially responsible for the plaintiff’s burns, McDonalds must have: (1) had a duty to the Plaintiff, (2) breached that duty, and (3) been a proximate cause of the Plaintiff’s injuries. Also, the Plaintiff can only recover in the case if she suffered damages as a result of McDonalds’ negligence. As with any personal injury claim, the outcome of the case is never guaranteed. If you have been injured by a negligent product or service, contact a St. Louis personal injury attorney for more information.