Describe the company and the product safety issue that led to the lawsuit. McDonald's is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 68 million customers daily in 119 countries. McDonald’s is headquartered in the United States in Oak Brook, Illinois. The company began in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald. In 1948 they reorganized their business as a hamburger stand using production line principles. Businessman Ray Kroc joined the company as a franchise agent in 1955. He subsequently purchased the chain from the McDonald brothers and oversaw its worldwide growth.
McDonald’s restaurants are operated by a franchisee, an affiliate, or the corporation itself. The majority of the corporation’s revenues come from the rent, royalties and fees that are paid by the franchisees. Most of the restaurants are “standalone” and offer both dine in and drive through services. There are some McDonald’s restaurants which are located near highways or intersections that offer only drive through services. McDonald's restaurants predominantly sell hamburgers, various types of chicken sandwiches and products, French fries, soft drinks, breakfast items, and desserts. In most markets, McDonald's offers salads and vegetarian items, wraps and other localized fare.
The product liability lawsuit that I will discuss is Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants. This case got national recognition and became a flash point in the debate in the U.S. over tort reform after a jury awarded $2.9 million to Stella Liebeck. In February 1992, Seventy-nine-year-old Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was sitting in the passenger seat when her grandson drove his car through a McDonald’s drive-thru window. Ms. Liebeck ordered coffee that was served in a McDonald’s Styrofoam cup. After receiving the order, the grandson pulled his car forward and stopped for his grandmother to add sugar and cream to her coffee. While parked, Ms. Liebeck...
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