Twenty years after a jury awarded a New Mexico woman $2.9 million after she burned herself on McDonald's coffee, a Los Angeles woman filed a suit also claiming that she was badly burned by the coffee. The jury’s $2.7 million award has long been a poster child for tort reform (the judge actually reduced her award to $480,000). This particular product liability issue affected the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people. It can even cause severe burns at 130 degrees. Now, to be clear, Liebeck never blamed McDonald's for her accident, but rather, took issue with the coffee's temperature being insanely hot. If spilled, coffee at this temperature will cause third-degree burns within two to seven seconds. Or do they? Everyone knows the case of the woman who sued McDonald's over spilled coffee. Although third-degree burns are often painless, the pain comes from the first and second-degree burns that surround the third-degree burns. If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, contact Herrman & Herrman to speak with an experienced attorney. After purchasing a cup of coffee, as the car stopped, Liebeck tried to hold the cup securely between her knees while removing the lid. Actually, Mrs. Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman, had gone to a McDonald’s with her grandson, who was driving. McDonald's argued: everyone knows coffee is supposed to be served hot, so that could not have been a surprise to Stella. She she filed a lawsuit against Mcdonalds, claiming it was their fault. How did they know? Almost everyone seems to know about it. McDonalds Lawsuit | McDonalds Hot Coffee Lawsuit Happened to meet a pair of Texas transplants familiar with a Houston attorney who had handled a 1986 hot–coffee lawsuit against McDonald's. The excessive heat was part of a McDonald’s promotion where they promised commuters that their coffee would still be hot by the time it got to their desks.Liebeck was with her grandson (who was driving) when she received the coffee from the drive-thru window. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case It is the case that gave rise to the attacks on “frivolous lawsuits” in the United States. In reality, Stella Liebeck wasn’t looking for a major payday; she was looking for a fair settlement. The McDonald's coffee spill case will probably never sit in law textbooks beside Pakgraffot International Shoe, but the facts of the case should be better known. It’s always encouraged to know the facts before buying into misrepresented and sensationalized stories. This was about so much more than just money. And it turns out, almost everything that is “known” about the case is wrong. McDonald's Hot Coffee Lawsuit. But firstly, it’s not. The shocking part of this ordeal is that McDonald’s had admitted to knowing about the risk of serious burns from its coffee for more than 10 years! The headlines, referring to an elderly grandmother spilling coffee from McDonald’s and winning millions of dollars, practically wrote themselves. A documentary was even produced depicting the incident (called Hot Coffee). For consumers, much has changed since the uproar over the case. Other than perhaps some mild discomfort, nothing was hurt except the shirt. Once corporations gained control of the story, Stella Liebeck became a newly-minted millionaire grandmother, who got an easy payday. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Your Privacy Controls. The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages for McDonald’s callous conduct. When the case went to trial, the jurors saw graphic photos of Liebeck’s burns. You may remember this case as the woman who spilled McDonald’s coffee, sued, and got millions of dollars out of it. One of the most famous lawsuits in recent history is the case of Liebeck v. McDonald’s. Chances are, they've heard of it; but the true facts of the case remain a mystery to many people, particularly those who ridicule the plaintiff as someone who took advantage of the legal system for financial gain. The skin is burned all the way down to the muscle/fatty tissue layer. McDonald’s offered Liebeck only $800—which did not even cover her medical expenses. McDonald’s coffee: In the Jan. 10 Business section, an article about a woman suing McDonald’s over burns from a spilled cup of hot coffee said that the injury occurred Jan. 12, 2012. According to the lawsuit, the coffee served to the 79-year-old Liebeck was as hot as 180 to 190 degrees—for reference, the optimal drinking temperature for hot beverages is around 140-150 degrees. ‘Globally in 2012, about 25% of our total coffee bean purchases were from Rainforest Alliance Certified™, Fair Trade USA or UTZ Certified farms. The story of a money-seeking customer suing a big company for big bucks. Ask most non-attorneys about the McDonald's "hot coffee" lawsuit. A normal woman in a small town drives up to a McDonalds and orders a cup of coffee. McDonalds admitted that they had not studied the dangers associated with these high temperatures. An elderly woman files a hot coffee lawsuit against McDonald's and wins a $2.7 million jury-awarded jackpot, which changes her life forever. When representing injured Texas residents, we fight for justice against wrongdoing and aggressively pursue the best resolution to complex personal injury claims. When this case was made public, the entire nation almost instantly turned against the elderly lady and her lawsuit, or at least made fun of it. That lawsuit brought change though - albeit not to United Airlines. This case has become synonymous with America’s over-litigious society and a supposed lack of common sense. Liebeck suffered third degree burns to her pelvic region. HuffPost is part of Verizon Media. However, that is the story mass media wanted you to hear. She offered to settle for $20,000, however, McDonald’s refused to settle and offered a mere $800. In 1992, McDonald’s coffee was at the center of a lawsuit revisited in a Retro Report video. One of the most successful campaigns in the history of misinformation about tort law was the infamous McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit. Guess the media forgot to mention that. She received third-degree burns over 16 percent of her body. However, McDonalds' own internal research showed that most of the customers drank the coffee while still in their car. In 1992, as Vox explains, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck had her grandson take her to McDonald's, where she ordered the now-infamous coffee, and spilled it on her lap. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), third Degree burns destroy both the epidermis and the dermis to where the skin cannot regenerate. The sad part about all this is that poor Liebeck wasn’t even trying to sue for millions of dollars but instead wanted only to be compensated for her medical bills. Selena Edwards, 38, … In 1992, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck bought a cup of takeout coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Albuquerque and spilled it on her lap. They heard experts testify about how hot coffee should be and that McDonald’s coffee was 30 to 40 degrees hotter than coffee served by other companies. The cup tipped over and as a result spilled scolding (keyword: scolding) hot coffee onto herself. Fact: McDonald’s didn’t just serve their coffee hot– their operations manual required that is be served between 180 and 190 degrees; 30-40 degrees hotter than other coffee-serving restaurants in the area. McDonald's Restaurants, here you go. Holding major companies accountable for their negligence is extremely important for the safety of everyone. According to Liebeck’s attorney, S. Reed Morgan, McDonald’s was serving their coffee at 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit! In the weeks and months to follow this encounter, great controversy would swirl around this woman and her latte. Was hospitalized for a total of eight days, had whirlpool treatment for debridement of her wounds, skin grafting, scarring, and was disabled for more than two years! To enable Verizon Media and our partners to process your personal data select 'I agree', or select 'Manage settings' for more information and to manage your choices. Everyone admitted hot coffee is unsafe to drink at 180 to 190 degrees, and it will cause burns to the throat if swallowed within the first few minutes. Yet, what actually happened? Coffee case still resonates. The 2011 documentary film "Hot Coffee" attempted to debunk the myths surrounding the famous McDonald's lawsuit . In fact, I bet that everything you thought you knew about the McDonald's Hot Coffee Case was wrong. That’s quicker than the amount of time it took you to read this sentence. The majority of our certified coffee purchases are from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, including 100% of our espresso in the US and Canada, and all of our coffee in Australia and New Zealand. She spilled a cup of Mcdonalds coffee on her lap and was taken to hospital due to her burns. The so called "McDonalds coffee case" has been called by many the most frivolous lawsuit they had ever heard. Television shows, pundits, and politicians across the country debated the matter vigorously. Seventeen years ago, McDonald's was faced with a lawsuit brought forth by Stella Liebeck, who was scalded by a cup of the chain's coffee that she purchased at a drive-through. I'm sure the reader has spilled a cup of lukewarm coffee all over his shirt or her blouse. That may sound like the most ridiculous court case of all time. Watch: The Real Story Behind That McDonald’s Hot Coffee Lawsuit. However, that is the story mass media wanted you to hear. You may remember this case as the woman who spilled McDonald’s coffee, sued, and got millions of dollars out of it. Call 361-792-2358 to schedule your free consultation today! A woman who sued McDonald’s over a spilled cup of coffee faces fraud charges, with prosecutors alleging that she faked evidence that she was seriously burned. A month after the trial, the judge reduced the jury’s punitive damages award to $640,000. The “McDonald’s coffee” case. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. We and our partners will store and/or access information on your device through the use of cookies and similar technologies, to display personalised ads and content, for ad and content measurement, audience insights and product development. McDonald’s Hot Coffee Lawsuit. We have all heard it: a woman spills McDonald's coffee, sues and gets $3 million. Imagine it: some women drops coffee on herself and sues McDonalds. McDonald’s finally admitted that its coffee was not “fit for consumption” because of the severe risks. What had actually happened was far different than what news outlets and late night TV hosts were saying. In 1992, 79-year old Stella Liebeck became the poster child for frivolous litigation after filing a lawsuit against McDonald’s for serving coffee that was too hot. Scalded by Coffee, Then News Media In 1992, Stella Liebeck spilled scalding McDonald’s coffee in her lap and later sued the company, attracting a flood of negative attention. The story of a money-seeking customer suing a big company for big bucks. And there’s a good chance everything you know about it is wrong. McDonald's is a well-known product liability lawsuit that became a flash point in the debate in the U.S. over tort reform after a jury awarded $2.9 million to Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico, who sued McDonald's after she suffered third-degree burns from hot coffee that was spilled on her at one of the company's drive-thrus in 1992. Provided by the Center for Justice & Democracy, New York City . But nothing could be further from the truth. In 1992, news media across the United States exploded over a now-infamous personal injury case in which a woman (Stella Liebeck) was awarded just short of $3 million in damages when she spilled a cup of scalding hot coffee in her lap. McDonald’s Hot Coffee Lawsuit: The Facts. More than 15 years after making international news, the case continues to … But cleverness came at the expense of context, and despite some more detailed reports that offered greater context and a new perspective, such as the documentary Hot Coffee , most people still don’t know the extent of Liebeck’s injuries. Serving the U.S. and Texas with offices in South Texas including, © 2020 Herrman & Herrman - All rights reserved, Spring Break in McAllen and Rio Grande Valley: Tourism Information You Need ». Well, it turns out that between the years of 1982-1992, McDonald’s coffee had burned more than 700 people from adults to infants, according to claims that had been filed. Information about your device and internet connection, including your IP address, Browsing and search activity while using Verizon Media websites and apps. The rest is history. With over 100 years of combined experience among the legal team of Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C., our Texas personal attorneys have successfully resolved over 20,000 cases. Home Blog Negligence Claims McDonald’s Coffee Case – Know the Facts. It was found that other fast food restaurants sold their coffee at significantly lower temperatures. Here's what really happened: On the morning of February 27, 1992, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck was riding in the car with her grandson Chris. His name was Our Comment on the McDonald's Hot Coffee Verdict: Any common consumer product which can cause third-degree burns transcript. The McDonald's Hot Coffee case is commonly considered as the poster child for stupid personal injury lawsuits but, in this age of Fake News, if you knew the True Facts of the Hot Coffee Case, you might change your mind. Start down the road to recovery by contacting us for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. A woman from Surrey, B.C., is suing the McDonald's restaurant chain after she was allegedly burned by a cup of hot coffee that spilled onto her lap at a drive-thru. And secondly, she was awarded 2.86 million dollars to help cover her two year medical treatment for the burns she suffered. You may be familiar with — and even outraged by — the famous lawsuit against McDonald’s by Stella Liebeck who was burned by hot coffee. McDonalds' Hot Coffee Case - Read the Facts NOT the Fiction. Our cups even have the warning "hot" printed on them. Find out more about how we use your information in our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. 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