What is the Deal with Hot Coffee Lawsuits?
It has been 20 years since Stella Liebeck suffered third degree burns after she accidently spilled hot coffee in her lap and sued McDonald’s. The case became a lightning rod for legal reform. Initially she was awarded more than $2.7 million dollars by a jury in New Mexico. The trial judge reduced it to $640,000 and then the parties settled for a confidential amount.
I guess some Californians figured that enough time has passed since the last hot coffee suit and decided to take another shot at McDonald’s. Back in October, a 74 year old Clovis woman sued McDonald’s stating that the company acted with malice because its employees knowingly served her coffee through a drive-thru window that was “unreasonable hot in excess of 175 degree Fahrenheit.” She is seeking damages for medical expenses, physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress and pain and suffering. That’s quite a bit for a $1 cup of coffee.
Prior to that, the L.A. Times reported that in January 2012, another woman was served coffee through a drive thru window at a McDonald’s in Van Nuys and she is suing because she claims, “the lid for the hot coffee was negligently, carelessly and improperly placed on the coffee cup…resulting in the lid coming off the top of the coffee at the window, causing the hot coffee to spill onto the plaintiff.”
If I ran McDonald’s, I would no longer serve coffee at the drive thru window. I would also post a sign saying, “Due to lawsuits, we no longer serve coffee at the drive thru.”
I think America is better than this, but the fact is that lawsuits keep coming and no one takes personal responsibility for their actions. Enough with the coffee lawsuits.