A woman suffered severe burns in her pelvic area after spilling coffee she bought from McDonald’s in 1994. The jury found McDonald’s 80% responsible and awarded the woman $200,000 in compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages, bringing the total cost of the coffee to $2.9 million.
The Infamous Case of the $2.9 Million Cup of Coffee
The story of Liebec is one that has been retold time and time again. In 1994, a 79-year-old woman suffered horrific third-degree burns in her pelvic region when a cup of coffee she purchased from McDonald’s spilled in her lap. The case became infamous as it headed to court, with McDonald’s being found 80% liable by the jury.
The Court’s Findings
After the investigation, the court awarded Liebec a significant payout. Not only was she granted $200,000 to cover her medical expenses, but she also received a whopping $2.7 million in punitive damages. This significant amount was meant to teach McDonald’s a lesson about serving dangerously hot beverages to its customers.
The Liebec case sparked outrage among some who felt that the elderly woman was merely seeking financial gain from the fast-food giant. However, others saw it as a warning to corporations to provide safe and reasonable consumer products.
Following the trial, McDonald’s was forced to re-evaluate its hot beverage policy, and many other fast-food chains followed suit. They revised their policies to make sure that hot beverages were served at a safe temperature to prevent any further accidents like Liebec’s.
The Impact of the Case
The Liebec case has left a lasting impact on the fast-food industry and on consumer safety as a whole. It showed that corporations must be accountable for the safety of their products and must take appropriate steps to ensure that their customers are not put at risk.
In hindsight, the Liebec case highlights the importance of safety protocols for businesses. We must continue to ensure that our daily purchases remain safe and that manufacturers and businesses remain accountable for their products to protect pedestrians from accidents and injury.