(UnitedVoice.com) – In the 1990s, McDonald’s was involved in a highly-publicized lawsuit with a customer who spilled hot coffee on herself and suffered third-degree burns in her pelvic area that required skin grafts. The lawsuit was largely seen as a joke or frivolous, but the jury disagreed and awarded her $2.9 million. Now, the fast-food company has lost another case related to its hot food.
Philana Holmes took her 4-year-old daughter, Olivia Caraballo, to a Florida McDonald’s in 2019 to buy her a Happy Meal. After the mother received the meal, she handed it to the toddler in her car seat in the back of the vehicle. Holmes said she heard her daughter scream a few moments later, and when she looked back, she saw chicken nuggets on her lap. One of the pieces of chicken got lodged between the child’s seat belt, and her mom wasn’t able to immediately knock it off.
The nugget caused second-degree burns. Holmes and Humberto Carabello Estevez sued the franchise and the corporation for damages because the nuggets were “unreasonably and dangerously” hot. In May, a Broward County jury found both responsible for the accident.
On July 19, a jury awarded the family $800,000. The family had asked for $15 million, but their attorneys called the verdict “fair and just.” Holmes said that she was happy the jury “listened to Olivia’s voice […] to decide a fair judgment.” She told the press she was “happy” with the outcome.
It’s unclear if McDonald’s intends to add warning labels to its chicken nuggets containers now that the lawsuit is over. That’s one of the reasons the Broward jury found the company liable. After the hot coffee case, the company added warning labels to its cups.
Starbucks has also lost lawsuits in recent years over the temperature of its coffee and tea. In 2017, a Florida jury awarded a woman $100,000 for serving hot beverages in cups with faulty lids.
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