Liebeck V McDonald’s Corporation
The case of Liebeck V McDonald’s Corporation also known as “The McDonald’s coffee case” is a well known court case which caused a lot of controversy. In February of 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79 year old woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico sued McDonald’s Corporation for suffering third-degree burns from their product. Mrs. Liebeck and her grandson visited a local McDonald’s drive-thru and ordered a cup of coffee. After pulling away from the window, Mrs. Liebeck’s grandson stopped the vehicle so that his grandmother could add sugar and cream to her coffee. Mrs. Liebeck placed the cup between her legs to secure it and attempted to remove the lid. In the process of removing the lid, the coffee spilled onto her lap. Mrs. Liebeck was wearing sweatpants which absorbed the coffee and held the hot liquid against her skin. After being taken to the hospital, Mrs. Liebeck underwent skin grafting to correct the third-degree burns covering six percent of her body. She was hospitalized for eight days and after she was released, she had to undergo two years of treatment. Mrs. Liebeck tried to settle with McDonald’s corporation by seeking $20,000 to cover her medical expenses, but the corporation only offered her $800. After McDonald’s refused to raise their offer, Mrs. Liebeck filed a suit.
During the case, it was discovered that McDonald’s requires franchises to serve coffee at 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, the coffee would cause a third-degree in two to seven seconds. Witnesses for McDonald’s were questioned regarding the coffee and they stated that consumers were not aware of how hot the coffee was and that they could be at risk of serious burns. They also testified that McDonald’s did not warn customers of the risk and couldn’t provide an explanation as to why there was no warning. The witnesses also said that McDonald’s did not intend to reduce the temperature of the coffee....
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