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Old    Jeremy (wake77)      Join Date: Jan 2009       07-07-2011, 9:03 AM Reply   
Who has watched the HBO documentary "Hot Coffee"? It changed my point of view of the case. The woman almost died due to her injuries from the coffee. She tried to settle just for the medical costs (~20k) before the lawsuit, but Mickey D's refused.
Old    Rich (digg311)      Join Date: Sep 2007       07-07-2011, 9:12 AM Reply   
Saw it... and agree with you. It's crazy how much of a laughing stock this woman and her story became... and all those people laughing had no idea what really went down. Myself included.
Old    Brett Yates (polarbill)      Join Date: Jun 2003       07-07-2011, 9:21 AM Reply   
The wiki page I just looked at said she was 79 years old. Maybe it was god telling her is was time to go? In all seriousness if she really got that bad of burns the coffee must of been excessively hot. 640,000 is nothing compared to current lawsuits.
Old    Jeremy (wake77)      Join Date: Jan 2009       07-07-2011, 9:28 AM Reply   
They said it was around 185 degrees.
Old    Brett Yates (polarbill)      Join Date: Jun 2003       07-07-2011, 9:35 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by wake77 View Post
They said it was around 185 degrees.
Is that really that hot?
Old    Jeremy (wake77)      Join Date: Jan 2009       07-07-2011, 9:43 AM Reply   
^Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit and water that is ~140 degrees Fahrenheit will burn your skin in about 6 seconds, so you tell me.
Old    Rich (digg311)      Join Date: Sep 2007       07-07-2011, 9:53 AM Reply   
"During discovery, McDonalds produced documents showing more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee between 1982 and 1992. Some claims involved third-degree burns substantially similar to Liebecks. This history documented McDonalds' knowledge about the extent and nature of this hazard.

McDonalds also said during discovery that, based on a consultants advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste."
Old    el doubleyou (lukewtwt)      Join Date: Apr 2003       07-08-2011, 5:56 AM Reply   
I have been telling people for years that this case was actually a good lawsuit and not frivilous, but people would rather bash lawyers based on perception than actually educate themselves about the facts.
Old    Dan (hco)      Join Date: Jun 2006       07-08-2011, 7:20 AM Reply   
If any of you guys had your dingus melt to your leg because of a coffee spill I am sure you would have sued the same.
Old    John Anderson (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       07-08-2011, 7:35 AM Reply   
I wonder where they got consultants that think scorched coffee tasts the best?
Old    Cory D (cadunkle)      Join Date: Jul 2009       07-10-2011, 9:07 AM Reply   
You still choose to buy it, and can surely feel the heat through the cup. If you happen to spill it, that's your own fault. If you tend to spill things on yourself, don't drink hot drinks, or use a spill proof cup. The temperature really is not relevant here. We're talking about an individual making a voluntary transaction with a private business. If the server spilled the coffee on this woman, I could see a valid care and compensation would be due. She spilled it on herself though, so it was her own fault.

If you have any reading that outlines some of the issues that changed your perception please post links. I'm interested to see if there really is anything about this case that would change my thoughts on it, given more information about the circumstances.
Old    Jeremy (wake77)      Join Date: Jan 2009       07-10-2011, 9:46 AM Reply   
"The temperature really is not relevant here."

You're full of sheet. Now if the woman was suing for a new pair of pants, then maybe you have a point. The woman almost died from the injuries from the scalding hot coffee. McDonald's had over 700 complaints of scalds from their coffee. They still chose to serve it at 185 degrees. The temperature is most certainly relevant. People spill things, you shouldn't be severely injured because of clumsiness. The woman wasn't trying to get rich, she only wanted Mickey D's to pay her medical bills, they refused, she got a lawyer.
Old    Cory D (cadunkle)      Join Date: Jul 2009       07-11-2011, 9:53 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by wake77 View Post
People spill things, you shouldn't be severely injured because of clumsiness.
Then that's every individual's repsonsibility to gauge their own climsiness and act accordingly with the amount of risk they are willing to take. If you tend to spill things, don't get hot drinks. Seems pretty simple to me. The fact that she almost died is irrelevant here. The relevant facts are how and why the drink was spilled. If a McDonalds employee spilled the drink on her, or if it was a failure of the cup, then there might be a case. If she was clumsy and spilled it herself, tough. Assuming that is the case, she has no case and it's a travesty that McD was forced to pay anything for this.

If I make coffee in my home and spill it on myself, burning myself... Do I sue Mr. Coffee? If I'm in my shop working and drop an engine block on my foot while I'm not wearing steel toes, do I sue Ford? If I make tea do I sue the stove manufacturer? Or perhaps I'd be better off filing suit against Ugg the mammoth slayer, since he invented fire?

Of course not, I don't sue anyone in any of those cases. It's frivolous to sue others for your own clumsiness, regardless of how badly you hurt yourself.
Old    John Anderson (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       07-11-2011, 10:06 AM Reply   
I have to agree with Cory. You spill hot coffee on yourself, it's your own fault. People need to know their limits and driving with a coffee cup in their hand seems to be one of them. McDonalds has consistantly served very hot coffee. After your first purchase you should know better. There's a reason why coffe shops use those insulated sleeves.

She should have paid her own medical bills. Those 700 scalded people should grow up and learn to properly hold a cup of coffee.
Old    Rich (digg311)      Join Date: Sep 2007       07-11-2011, 10:25 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by fly135 View Post
People need to know their limits and driving with a coffee cup in their hand seems to be one of them.
Not to quibble... but she was a passenger in a parked car... but I get what you're saying.

Some notes from the case:
The jury heard the following evidence in the case:

McDonald’s Operations Manual required the franchisee to hold its coffee at 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Coffee at that temperature, if spilled, causes third-degree burns (the worst kind of burn) in three to seven seconds.

Third-degree burns do not heal without skin grafting, debridement and whirlpool treatments that cost tens of thousands of dollars and result in permanent disfigurement, extreme pain and disability of the victim for many months, and in some cases, years;

The chairman of the department of mechanical engineering and bio-mechanical engineering at the University of Texas testified that this risk of harm is unacceptable, as did a widely recognized expert on burns, the editor in chief of the leading scholarly publication in the specialty, the Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation;

McDonald’s admitted that it has known about the risk of serious burns from its scalding hot coffee for more than 10 years — the risk was brought to its attention through numerous other claims and suits, to no avail;

From 1982 to 1992, McDonald’s coffee burned more than 700 people, many receiving severe burns to the genital area, perineum, inner thighs, and buttocks;

Not only men and women, but also children and infants, have been burned by McDonald’s scalding hot coffee, in some instances due to inadvertent spillage by McDonald’s employees;

McDonald’s admitted at trial that its coffee is “not fit for consumption” when sold because it causes severe scalds if spilled or drunk;

McDonald’s admitted at trial that consumers are unaware of the extent of the risk of serious burns from spilled coffee served at McDonald’s then required temperature;

McDonald’s admitted that it did not warn customers of the nature and extent of this risk and could offer no explanation as to why it did not;

Liebeck’s treating physician testified that her injury was one of the worst scald burns he had ever seen.

McDonald’s did a survey of other coffee establishments in the area, and found that coffee at other places was between 30-40 degrees cooler.
Old    Tim C (lifetimewarranty)      Join Date: Oct 2008       07-11-2011, 10:50 AM Reply   
John(fly135), you are wrong here.

I didn't see the HBO special, but Bill Handel (Handel on the Law talk radio show out of Los Angeles) did a rather large segment on this YEARS ago pointing out all of the reasons she won the law suit.


The fact is, McDonalds KNEW about the cups being not quite up to par with being able to handle the super hot coffee that they served, and they were warned about it, had record of being warned about it, and chose to do nothing about it - because they didn't want to pay to make a new style cup. That is why they lost. That is negligence on their part.
Old    John Anderson (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       07-11-2011, 10:58 AM Reply   
If the cups broke apart then I agree. If they handed a hot cup to someone and they dropped it immediately on themselves because of the temperature then I agree.

Were either of those the situation?
Old    Tim C (lifetimewarranty)      Join Date: Oct 2008       07-11-2011, 12:03 PM Reply   
It's been a long time since I heard Bill's episode on this, but he mentioned the cups getting soft or something like that with the extreme hot coffee, which when she put between the legs, wouldn't remain round, which allowed it to spill...

I'm not trying to say we shouldn't be responsible for our own actions here, but that McDonalds simply looked the other way when they were told the cups were not recommended for such high temp fluids because of such breakdown in their integrity.

So, I don't think there was a dynamic "break apart" incident, but more of a "not hold form" type of thing.
Old    Ian Brown (wakereviews)      Join Date: Sep 2006       07-11-2011, 12:05 PM Reply   
No, but if they did drink the beverage that was served to them right away they would have burned their mouths. I'm going to have to side on the plaintiff on this one. That is a crazy temp to serve coffee.
Old    Nick Tomsyck (sidekicknicholas)      Join Date: Mar 2007       07-11-2011, 1:14 PM Reply   
Quote:
You spill hot coffee on yourself, it's your own fault.
+1 - If McDonalds had put it in a plastic cup and it burned through - thats a case --- or somehow had faulty foam/lids/etc then thats a case.

Once it leaves the McDonald's employee hand and is 100% in your grasp, that is where I think their liability ends (again given nothing was faulty).


The people who sue from hot coffee burns are the same people that put up a huge stink in line and REFUSE to pay for the coffee because its "Too Cold"
Old    Nick Tomsyck (sidekicknicholas)      Join Date: Mar 2007       07-11-2011, 1:16 PM Reply   
... also, if McDonalds loses this case for big $$$$ then the ****storm of lawsuites from injuries like that would be insane. People would start seeing "$" any time there is something hot being served
Old    Rich (digg311)      Join Date: Sep 2007       07-11-2011, 1:55 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by sidekicknicholas View Post
... also, if McDonalds loses this case for big $$$$ then the ****storm of lawsuites from injuries like that would be insane. People would start seeing "$" any time there is something hot being served
Old case. McDonalds already lost it.
Old    Rich (digg311)      Join Date: Sep 2007       07-11-2011, 1:57 PM Reply   
The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages — reduced to $160,000 because the jury found her 20 percent at fault — and $2.7 million in punitive damages for McDonald’s callous conduct. (To put this in perspective, McDonald’s revenue from coffee sales alone was in excess of $1.3 million a day.) The trial judge reduced the punitive damages to $480,000, but did state that McDonald’s had engaged in “willful, wanton, and reckless” behavior. Mrs. Liebeck and McDonald’s eventually settled for a confidential amount.
Old    Tim C (lifetimewarranty)      Join Date: Oct 2008       07-11-2011, 2:52 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by sidekicknicholas View Post
+1 - If McDonalds had put it in a plastic cup and it burned through
Nick - not sure if you read my post, as I haven't read everyones either, but that is basically what happened...and what digg said.
Old    Ian Brown (wakereviews)      Join Date: Sep 2006       07-11-2011, 3:03 PM Reply   
If you had guests over at your house, would you serve them hot coffee at a temperature that would scald the skin with 3rd degree burns without telling them that it was incredibly hot first? Not warning someone that you are handing them a dangerous item is negligent IMO. The coffee did not have to be that hot, heating it up to dangerous temps and not warning the customer was wrong.

I'm not a frivolous person by any means but hell, McD's had 700 friggin complaints. Obviously it took a lawsuit to get them to stop burning people.
Old    Jeremy (wake77)      Join Date: Jan 2009       07-12-2011, 7:39 AM Reply   
"You spill hot coffee on yourself, it's your own fault. People need to know their limits and driving with a coffee cup in their hand seems to be one of them. McDonalds has consistantly served very hot coffee. After your first purchase you should know better. There's a reason why coffe shops use those insulated sleeves."

So you should face death by choosing to buy a cup of coffee? I think most would just quit drinking coffee if faced with that risk.
She purposely had the driver pull over (the car was not moving) so she could put cream in her coffee and these were the days before cars came standard with cup holders.
This was her very first visit to McDonald's (I know that seems hard to believe).
These were the days before insulated sleeves (early 90's).
Old    John Anderson (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       07-12-2011, 9:17 AM Reply   
Since you put it that way Jermemy... Yes, if drinking a cup of hot coffee is potentially a death defying act, then perhaps a baby bottle is a better solution.

I didn't see the movie and don't know all the circumstances. I do agree that not warning people about the temperature of the coffee when it's extremely hot is negligent. And if McDonalds has their coffee extremely hot for a reason (i.e. taste) then some measures should be taken to make sure that people are adequately warned.

I'm just curious as to if any reasonable amount of warning labels would have absolved McDonalds of the liability. IOW should millions of people per day have to give up the presumably better tasting coffee so the oft chance of someone burning themselves is alleviated? IMO, no. But I can imagine that when you sell 1.3 millions cups of coffee the odds of someone spilling one on themselves is pretty high. I really doubt that those same people will give any creedance to a warning label.

I don't believe McDonalds should have to change the temp of the coffee. Only provide a reasonable warning label. Without seeing the movie I can't say what they would or wouldn't do.

Last edited by fly135; 07-12-2011 at 9:19 AM.
Old    SamIngram            07-12-2011, 9:57 AM Reply   
I think...

All knives should come from the factory not sharpened and that you should have to do it at home, that way there is no chance at cutting yourself unless you decide to "modify" the knife yourself.

All cars should come without tires, that way there is no chance at getting into a wreck until you decide to "customize" it.

All guns should come without triggers, that way there is no chance at killing someone unless you decide to "customize" it.

when people become responsible and accountable for their actions we will be free, until then we are all shackled by others stupidity...
Old    Cory D (cadunkle)      Join Date: Jul 2009       07-13-2011, 7:15 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by wake77 View Post
So you should face death by choosing to buy a cup of coffee? I think most would just quit drinking coffee if faced with that risk.
She purposely had the driver pull over (the car was not moving) so she could put cream in her coffee and these were the days before cars came standard with cup holders.
This was her very first visit to McDonald's (I know that seems hard to believe).
These were the days before insulated sleeves (early 90's).
Life is dangerous Jeremy. Many simple little mundane decisions we make every day could result in our death. So this woman took some level of precautions for handling a hot beverage that she clearly knew was capable of burning her, since she insisted that the car be stopped to remove the lid. The then proceeded to spill it and burn herself, after intentionally removing the lid. Boo hoo, She spilled it on herself and knew it was hot. McD is in no way responsible for her actions.

Insulated sleeves and cup holders are irrelevant. Obviously she was able to handle the coffee for some time in the car without either. Personally I've never owned a vehicle with a cup holder and I don't have trouble burning myself with hot coffee, perhaps because I take simple precautions like keeping the container sealed and not drinking it or placing it anywhere near my lap until it's sufficiently cool that it will not burn or injure me. But then I have a sense of personal accountability and responsibility for my actions. I'd prefer to avoid injuring myself as I will not make frivolous lawsuits and thus will have to deal with the pain of injury and pay for the medical care myself.
Old    Jeremy (wake77)      Join Date: Jan 2009       07-13-2011, 9:07 AM Reply   
Cory, if that was your mom or grandmother, I suspect you wouldn't be on here acting like Billy Badass.

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