For years I have heard people use the McDonald’s coffee case as the poster-child of what’s wrong with America jurisprudence. I often hear comments like: ”A woman spilled coffee on herself while she was driving and then blamed McDonald’s and got millions of dollars, how ridiculous!”
The Insurance and Big business lobby shouts that greedy plaintiffs are driving insurance costs up and then point to the McDonald’s coffee case as an example. Being a Plaintiffs Personal Injury attorney I know that insurance companies don’t hand over millions of dollars without staunchly defending their ground. I also know that insurance companies hire seasoned trial lawyers to defend serious injury claims. So what I was hearing in the media about the McDonald’s coffee case just didn’t add up.
When doing jury voir dire in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk Counties (Interviewing the jury prior to a personal injury or wrongful death trial) the attorneys in our firm repeatedly noticed comments from potential jurors about “that ridiculous verdict” in the McDonald’s coffee case. The McDonald’s case was filed in New Mexico, thousands of miles away but was regularly affecting us in trials right here in Tampa, Bartow, and St. Petersburg Florida.
After investigating the particulars we came to the startling reality that the insurance lobby was seriously distorting the truth. We read the actual case and other related articles which pointed to some interesting and compelling facts. We want to set the record straight:
Plaintiff: The plaintiff was a 79 year old woman named Stella Liebeck.
Location: In 1992 Stella was riding as a passenger in a vehicle driven by her grandson in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Scene: Ms. Liebeck and her grandson pulled into a drive thru at a local McDonald’s Restaurant. After purchasing the coffee, the grandson pulled the car to a nearby curb and stopped the car so Ms Liebeck could add sugar and cream to her coffee. Stella was holding the cup between her legs. When she removed the lid from the cup it turned over and spilled into her lap.
What happened – The Facts:
Was the car stopped?
Fiction: I always hear “the car was moving” when Stella spilled the coffee. Not true!
Truth: The car was stopped.
Was Stella seriously injured?
Fiction: Stella only suffered minor injuries.
Truth: Stella suffered 3rd degree burns over 16% of her body. The burns were to her inner thighs, buttocks, perineum, and genital and groin area. The burns went as deep as her bone. She was wearing sweatpants which were literally burned into her skin.
Read the rest here.
I had an unfortunate experience with McDonalds coffee a couple years before this womans suit. I was only 6 or 7 at the time, and my mom would get a coffee in the drive thru whenever we would leave the house. She always handed it off to me (yes I was in the front seat) to hold while she drove. I usually put the coffee between my legs to hold and all the other hundreds of times it was fine. This particular incident, she had to stop quickly or some kind of extreme manuever and the coffee spilled in my lap. I had sever burns to my inner thighs I didnt go to the ER but my mom took me to the pediatrician the next day when she couldnt relieve the burns with aloe or other over the counter meds. I'm 30 now, and there are still scars from where the coffee spilled. My burns were no where near the extent of this woman's burns, but still left a reminder of what happened.
essgirl said:Fair point @curious but she hadn't yet added the milk or cream which would have cooled it down enough to make it drinkable.
Fair point @curious but she hadn't yet added the milk or cream which would have cooled it down enough to make it drinkable.
wow i was not aware of all that
The Not So Trophy Wifehttp://notsotrophywife.blogspot.com/