Skip to comments.Ever Hear About The Lady Who Spilled Coffee On Herself At McDonald's, Then Sued For Millions?
Posted on 10/24/2013 6:02:54 AM PDT by Fawn
It's really unbelievable what happened to Stella Liebeck. You just have to watch to see how the media turned on this little old lady who lived in Albuquerque. Obviously a villain, right? And at 5:00, prepare to see what the coffee actually did to her. It's not pretty. Well ... nothing in her situation was.
The injuries were severe but it was her own fault. It is ludicrous to say that there needs to be a warning label stating that hot coffee is hot.
Hot coffee is hot. Groundbreaking stuff right there.
It is too bad she is not competent enough to drink coffee without spilling it. Not my problem
Those are bad burns. But it’s hot coffee. I don’t want to be forced to drink tepid coffee because 1 in 24 million gets burned. This is as frivolous a law suit as it ever was.
I’m sure that some have choked to death on a Big Mac but that doesn’t mean McDonalds needs to puree them in a blender.
The woman was maimed and it was the franchisee’s fault.
No, was the punishment appropriate? I don't know. Was the cases excessive? Not when it is viewed in the proper context.
But again, that is not exciting nor newsworthy. Facts are sometimes detrimental to a good story.
Probably the hottest thing she ever had between her legs.
It also helped her son was a lawyer.
Upworthy is a left-wing website. I will pass on giving them a click.
And that's why McDonalds got spanked.
For those of you who only read the “media’s” remedy for the poor woman’s problems was a “warning label,” it is not. While the woman was compensated in part due to her injuries the real remedy was getting McDonald’s to serve the hot coffee at a more reasonable temperature. Credit also go to McD for addressing the issue and fixing the problem they were causing so that others did not receive 2* & 3* burns.
And yes a lot of you put coffee cups between you legs, on the dash, seat, roof and other places.
I use the case as an example in products liability class. Not that a product can't be dangerous, just that the danger has to be justified. Others have posted the legal cure for McD ... to have coffee temperature be set by some rational means (market preference), and controlled. That is much better than "as hot as we can make it" (to get aroma in the restaurant, which causes food sales to increase), and "50 serious burns is statistically insignificant" (so why should we even consider selling it at a temperature other than "as hot as we can make it").
From Wiki: "Liebeck's attorneys argued that at 180190 °F (82.287.8 °C), McDonald's coffee was defective, claiming it was too hot and more likely to cause serious injury than coffee served at any other establishment. McDonald's had refused several prior opportunities to settle for less than what the jury ultimately awarded. The jury damages included $160,000 to cover medical expenses and compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages. The trial judge reduced the final verdict to $640,000, and the parties settled for a confidential amount before an appeal was decided. "
"On February 27, 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico, ordered a 49-cent cup of coffee from the drive-through window of a local McDonald's restaurant located at 5001 Gibson Boulevard S.E. Liebeck was in the passenger's seat of her grandson's Ford Probe, which didn't have cup holders, and her grandson Chris parked the car so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. Liebeck placed the coffee cup between her knees and pulled the far side of the lid toward her to remove it. In the process, she spilled the entire cup of coffee on her lap. Liebeck was wearing cotton sweatpants; they absorbed the coffee and held it against her skin, scalding her thighs, buttocks, and groin."
Temperatures over 140 farenheit will scald immediately, yet most coffee is served between 160-195 degrees. My Keurig is at the high end of that scale and brews at 192 degrees, two degrees above the coffee in the McDonald's case. I have yet to burn myself (except, on occasion, my tongue), because I know it's hot.
She seems like a ‘nice’ little old lady. And I hate that she injured herself.
But people injure themselves all the time, and it isn’t always someone else’s fault - to the tune of $500,000.
Stella says she “didn’t sue for the money,” but that BULL****.
She was injured. And she thought that pain gave her the right to injure someone else.
The new ‘morality’ of our secular society.
farenheit = fahrenheit...
The temp was at 180-190 degrees. There were hundreds of complaints of burns to McDonalds prior. The daughter pursued just medical costs after her mom went into shock, but mcd offered 800. It was the jury who came p&s awarded to 2 days of coffee sales. The judge lowered it
Well, i agree. But, what they were saying was McD set their temps at40 degrees hotter than home brewers.
Got a chuckle at the hardware store looking at hack saws. One package actually said the product posed a cutting risk.
Yea, I've heard that argument, i.e. McDonalds purposefully made the coffee very hot, so that breakfast customers would linger, THUS she was burned worse than she would have been if it was a lower temperature.
My answer to that is, "So?". If it wasn't the first cup of coffee that she had ever gotten from McDonald's then she was well aware of the temperature. Common sense dictates that ordering hot beverages in the drive-thru is a Caveat Emptor action. When the cup enters your hand, its your baby, and your responsibility.
The ideal water temperature for brewing coffee is 195-205 degrees F. The hottest temperature that unpressurized water can be at is 212F. So your case is either that we should all get subpar coffee, or that 7 deg F makes a huge difference in the severity of burns.
If someone dumps a cup of coffe on you, it is there bad, but I'm having a hard time seeing a human arm that is long enough to reach from inside McDonalds all the way to inside the woman's car.
Coffee is hot, who knew?
Well there is a cautionary notice on microwave meals that the food will be hot when removed from the microwave.
I believe part of the problem is that the Styrofoam cups are very unstable when the lids are removed.
Lemme guess... you went after the manufacturer of the hose, right?
Had more to do with her advanced age than the coffee. At that point in life we are all much more susceptible to a scalding.
Sad as it is, sometimes people have to pay for their own misjudgement.
I was managing McDonald’s when the first coffee suit really went ballistic, old woman put cup of coffee between her legs and removed lid, grandson took off quick and woman got burned. Obviously the hot coffee and McD was at fault. Only in America due we have to tell people that a cup of hot coffee is HOT, don’t put a plastic bag over your head, the desiccant package in a food bag is not food, the food coming out of your microwave will be hot. Apparently in America we are just to stupid to take personal responsibility for our actions.
She could have tripped and dropped the cup on a child. For purposes of argument. The child wouldn’t have been exposed to the hot liquid as long as she was, behind the wheel of her car, but it would have been pretty bad.
Anyway for the purposes of argument, would the hypothetical injuries to the child have been Mrs. Leebeck’s liability or McDonald’s liability?
And then she developed a drinking problem:
Been there, done that. I can still smell the ozone from some of my automotive wiring shenanigans.
And yes a lot of you put coffee cups between you legs, on the dash, seat, roof and other places.
About a year ago, I sat on the couch with a cup of tea (fresh off the boil) holding it over my stomach. My husband bumped my elbow when he sat down and the whole cup spilled directly on my stomach. I couldn’t get my shirt off in time to prevent it from holding in more heat. It was exquisitely painful. Should all tea kettles have a warning on them saying that water is hot after boiling?
I know it was my own darned fault. I should have known better.
Man, I hate it when that happens!
I’ve never done anything on a car that has resulted in serious injury, but occasionally I do something really boneheaded. The one that springs to mind first is a simple oil change - I drained the old oil, changed the filter, then started putting new oil in the engine. Halfway through pouring in the first quart I noticed a nice puddle of fresh Mobil 1 forming on the driveway. Forgot to put the drain plug back in!
The other one was after changing the timing belt on my car. Started it up and almost immediately heard the most godawful rattling under the hood. Turns out I forgot to torque the bolts holding the camshaft sprockets on before I replaced the cam cover.
Remember, this woman is the inspiration for the “Stella Awards”
Why didn’t she sue the car company for not including cup holders?
This like buying a new fixed blade knife from Buck Knives, sitting on it and then suing Buck for the injuries. Utterly stupid.
Eventually, the award was reduced and settled out of court for a mid-six-figure sum. But Liebecks legacy (she died in 2004)
reduced on appeal to less than $500,000. (The case was later settled for an undisclosed amount.)
I ordered coffee with a meal at a restaurant. The coffee came first and I drank most of that cup before the meal arrived.
I took a few bites of my meal and then took another drink of coffee. I hadn't made much note of the fact that the waitress had just topped off my cup.
The new coffee was so much hotter than the first cup had been that I inadvertently took a big swallow instead of a cautious sip. I was very near the point of having to spit out the coffee due to being so hot.
The heat had been excessive enough that I was unable to taste my meal and my mouth felt burned for the next day or so.
Restaurants not only need to control the temperature of their coffee but they need to avoid serving coffee with such variation in temperature that the customer is lulled into hurting themselves and losing the value of the meal.
It was also the cups. The covers did not fit tightly.
And the courts had warned Mickey D’s to fix the issue or face stiffer penalties.
They ignored the court.
I think they got the message.
“Got a chuckle at the hardware store looking at hack saws. One package actually said the product posed a cutting risk.”
Yes, they cut, particularly if you insert them into some body orifice. I’ll bet the lawyers forgot to insert that warning. Use some common sense people!
I get McD’s coffee 3-4 times a week. I’ve never had a cup that didn’t fit right.
Thanks for the tepid coffee.
“I know this is not a popular stance...but the coffee was more than hot. It was scalding hot.”
They sued McDonalds because the coffee was 180-190 degrees.
Do you know what a home coffemaker heats coffee to? According to national standards for coffeemakers, they heat it to 170-205 degrees, or an average of 187.5 degrees. McDonald’s was sued for making coffee that was of AVERAGE temperature.
Most fast food places still serve their coffee at around 185 deg.
“While the woman was compensated in part due to her injuries the real remedy was getting McDonalds to serve the hot coffee at a more reasonable temperature.”
Wrong. Most fast food places still serve coffee at around 185. To get the coffee cool enough that it wouldn’t have caused those burns, it would have to be served at around 140 deg.
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