It’s been over 20 years since the famous lawsuit brought against McDonalds by Stella Liebeck for burns she suffered when she spilled her hot coffee.
Following the adage of history repeating itself, Mcdonalds is now facing the threat of another lawsuit for a similar accident
However, this time the drink was hot chocolate, and the country is England, so the outcome is likely to be different.
The Daily Mail reports that Sam Smith, a 22-year-old woman, spilled the hot drink on herself at a drive-thru branch of McDonalds near Liverpool. She claims she was so severely injured she may now require plastic surgery. She suffered second-degree burns from the 85 C (185 F) drink and says going to the toilet is “torture.”
Smith alleges that the cup was over-filled, the lid was not attached correctly and the cup holder was not adequate to hold the two beverages. She told the Liverpool Echo: “
“They were too full, and there was a sharp bend and a speed bump in the drive-through, for some strange reason. I can’t walk properly now, and shuffle around like a frog. Going to the toilet is excruciating.”
Ms. Smith was treated at a specialist burns hospital in nearby Whiston and says she is now considering legal action against McDonalds. Her mother, Alison, says that she is thinking of starting a campaign highlighting the dangers of hot drinks from drive-thrus.
A McDonald’s spokesman said:
“We are sorry to hear that Mrs Smith’s daughter sustained an injury following her visit to our drive-through restaurant and we hope she makes a speedy recovery.
The safety and wellbeing of our customers and employees is our first priority and all of our restaurant crew are trained to serve hot drinks in a safe manner, with lids firmly secured.
We have launched a full investigation and our customer services team will be in touch with Mrs Smith.”
If Ms, Smith decides to go ahead with her claim, it is unlikely that she could expect to be awarded the $200,000 in damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages that a U.S. court gave Stella Liebeck back in 1992. Even though these numbers were subsequently reduced, following a claim of contributory negligence being upheld, ths judge was still critical of Mcdonalds behavior.
Despite the Liebeck case, McDonald’s continues to serve coffee and hot chocolate at a temperature of between 80–90 C.