ALBUQUERQUE - A woman, who was scalded when her McDonald's coffee spilled won a jury award of $2.9 million - or about two days' coffee sales for the fast-food chain. Lawyers for Stella Liebeck, 81, who suffered thirddegree burns in the 1992 incident, contended that McDonald's coffee was too hot. A state district court jury imposed $2.7 million in punitive damages and $160,000 in compensatory damages Wednesday. Ken Wagner, one of Liebeck's attorneys, said that he had asked the jury for punitive damages equal to two days' worth of McDonald's coffee sales, which he estimated at $1.34 million a day. Testimony indicated McDonald's coffee is served at 180 to 190 degrees, based on advice from a coffee consultant who has said it tastes best that hot, Wagner said yesterday.
The lawsuit contended Liebreck's coffee was 165 to 170 degrees when it spilled. In contrast, he said, coffee brewed at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees. Defense attorney Tracy McGee said the company will appeal. Juror Richard Anglada said the jury was trying to deliver a message to the industry. "The coffee's too hot out there. This happened to be McDonald's," Anglada said Wednesday. Liebeck's lead counsel, Reed Morgan of Houston, said there have been several lawsuits nationally over the temperature of McDonald's coffee, but that he believes the Liebeck case was the first to reach the verdict stage. A California case was settled out of court for $235,000, he said. He said the woman's medical bills totaled nearly $10,000. According to testimony, Liebeck was a passenger in a car driven by her grandson outside a McDonald's in southeast Albuquerque when she was burned by a cup of coffee purchased at a drive-through window. The jury found, among other things, that the coffee was defective and that McDonald's engaged in conduct justifying the punitive damages. Caption: PHOTO: Associated Press/Adolph Louis THE VICTIM: Stella Liebeck, who suffered third-
degree burns when a cup of McDonald's coffee spilled on her, is shown with her dog at her residence in Albuquerque.
Woman burned by coffee given $2.9 million by jury
• Austin American-Statesman Copyright 1994 Friday, August 19, 1994
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A jury awarded $2.9 million in damages to a woman who suffered third-degree burns after spilling a cup of McDonald's coffee. Stella Liebeck, 81, said in her lawsuit she was riding in a car in 1992 when she put a cup of the coffee between her legs while she removed the cap. The coffee spilled, scalding her. Testimony indicated McDonald's coffee is served at 180 to 190 degrees, based on a coffee consultant's advice that it tastes best that hot. In contrast, the lawsuit said, coffee brewed at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees. Juror Richard Anglada confirmed the jury was trying to deliver a message to the fast-food industry with the large punitive damages. "The coffee's too hot out there," Anglada said.
Coffee burns result in $2.9 million award from McDonald's
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram Copyright 1994 Thursday, August 18, 1994 Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A jury awarded $2.9 million in damages to a woman who suffered third-degree burns after spilling a cup of McDonald's coffee. Stella Liebeck, 81, said in her lawsuit that McDonald's serves coffee that is too hot. Liebeck testified she was riding in a car in February 1992 when she put the cup of coffee between her legs while she removed the cap. The coffee spilled and she suffered severe burns on her legs, groin and buttocks. Reed Morgan, her attorney, said the woman's medical bills totaled close to $10,000. Juror Richard Anglada said the jury was trying to deliver a message to the fast-food industry. "The coffee's too hot out there," she said. "This (just) happened to be McDonald's." Tracy McGee, McDonald's attorney, said the company...