McDonald's Sued in Another Hot Coffee Case

85-year-old woman says workers ignored her after she suffered severe burns
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2023 2:43 PM CDT
McDonald's Sued in Another Hot Coffee Case
McDonald's is facing another hot-coffee lawsuit.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

An 85-year-old woman in San Francisco has filed the latest hot-coffee lawsuit against McDonald's, saying she suffered "severe burns and emotional distress" after buying coffee at a drive-through in June. Mabel Childress says the lid wasn't properly sealed and the coffee spilled on her when she tried to drink it, KTLA reports. She has scarring in her groin area and still feels pain months later, according to the lawsuit. Childress says restaurant employees not only failed to close the cup properly, they "refused to help her" after she reported the incident and asked for assistance.

Her attorney, Dylan Hackett, tells the Washington Post that Childress went to the emergency room after she was ignored for an hour. Restaurant owner Peter Ou denies that workers refused to help Childress. "My restaurants have strict food safety protocols in place, including training crew to ensure lids on hot beverages are secure," he said in a statement. "When Ms. Childress reported her experience to us later that day, our employees and management team spoke to her within a few minutes and offered assistance." Childress is seeking more than $25,000 in the lawsuit filed against McDonald's Restaurants of California.

This is far from the first time McDonald's has been sued over hot coffee, Insider reports. In a famous case in 1994, a jury awarded 79-year-old Stella Liebeck $2.9 million after spilled coffee gave her third-degree burns over 6% of her body. Liebeck, who spent eight days in the hospital and need skin grafts, later settled for $500,000. In 2013, 74-year-old Joan Fino filed a similar lawsuit in California. It was settled for an undisclosed amount, per ABC30. Her attorney, Butch Wagner, said that since hot coffee stays fresh for longer, McDonald's franchises often keep it too hot, saving a total of around $1 million daily. (More McDonald's stories.)

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