Archive for the ‘Catastrophic Injuries’ Category

McDonald’s Coffee Case

I feel sorry for Stella Liebeck.

She was the 79 year old lady who had the living sh#t burned (third degree) out of her groin (private parts) by a cup of McDonald’s coffee which must have felt like it had been brewed directly on the surface of the sun.

We have all burned ourselves with some type of hot water or hot liquid, but I’ve never had any liquid touch my skin that was SO HOT it caused me to have multiple skin grafts, a seven day hospitalization and over $200,000 in medical bills (and that was in 1992).

Not only did she experience the type of excruciating pain that most of us will never know, she (or at least her case) became known as the poster child for “frivolous lawsuits”. Too bad for Stella, because nothing could be further from the truth.

McDonald’s (or more appropriately the insurance lobby) lead us all to believe that this crazy old litigious lady was driving around with at hot cup of coffee acting like a wild cowboy, spilled it all over herself and then blamed poor old Ronald McDonald for her burns. Poor Ronald!

In reality, good old Stella may have been in the car, but she wasn’t driving. She and her grandson were parked in the McDonald’s parking lot. All she was doing was taking the top off the coffee cup so she could pour in a little cream and sugar. Maybe she wasn’t supposed to put cream and sugar into her coffee!

This sweet old lady had never before in her life filed a lawsuit (that’s 79 years of life) and in fact she didn’t even want to file this one but stingy old McDonald’s wouldn’t even help out by offering a few bucks to help cover the deductible on her $200,000 plus medical bills.

Before this cup of hot lava burned through Stella’s crotch (all the way down to the bone), McDonald’s had received over 700 claims (that’s a lot of notice) regarding coffee burns suffered by its customers and it had paid out over $500,000 in damages to burn victims for the injuries their molten delight was causing. Either they were incredibly stupid, or they were intentionally trying to incinerate all of their customers.

During the trial McDonald’s own quality assurance manager admitted that the corporation was well aware of the major risk its ridiculously hot java caused to its unsuspecting customers, but (paraphrasing) it didn’t give a sh#t. In fact, the McDonald’s defense to the case was that, get ready for this, …it was Stella’s fault because she didn’t strip her flaming hot pants off fast enough (in front of her grandson) thereby causing her own burns and because her withered and  thin 79 year old skin was not as fire proof as normal skin is for a “younger individual”. It’s no wonder the jury was so mad at McDonald’s that it hit the corporation with at 2.7 million dollar judgment. If I had been on that jury it probably would have been for 207 million dollars!

What you didn’t hear (and this stuff never comes out in the news) is that the 2.7 million dollars was reduced by procedural motions to $480,000 and that after paying off all of her medical bills, court costs and attorneys fees, Stella wound up with next to nothing.

The moral of the story is don’t believe everything you hear about lawsuits! (but you already knew that)

To learn more about this case go to CAOC.