I’m sure we all remember the jokes made about the about lady who spilled McDonald’s coffee on herself and filed that “frivolous” lawsuit.
Come to find out, that lawsuit wasn’t so frivolous after all.
McDonald’s kept their coffee at 200° (90° Celsius) because, the hotter the coffee is kept the fresher it stays which saved them from wasting coffee. (Most companies sold their coffee at 160° TOPS, Starbucks sells theirs at 150°.) So they put people in harm’s way to save a bit of money. And I say People because there were 700 others who had been burnt by McDonald’s coffee, many with 3rd degree burns, and the restaurant had already been fined and ordered to lower the temp but they didn’t care. Let’s put this into perspective – at 212° water boils; even with all of the people who had been harmed by their coffee, McDonald’s continued to serve it at practically boiling temps anyhow.
On February 27 the of 1992 Stella ordered a coffee through the drive thru window. Contrary to popular belief, the 79 year old of Albuquerque, New Mexico had not been driving the vehicle; she’d been a passenger. The vehicle was stopped when the spill occurred, she was trying to add her cream and sweetener. The almost boiling hot coffee spilt to her buttox, genitals, and legs; 22% of her body’s surface was severely burnt. It’s said that the almost boiling liquid MELTED HER LABIA TOGETHER! Just think about that for a moment!
Stella went into shock immediately, and she was rushed to the closest hospital. The damage was major: her buttocks, groin, and thigh areas had 3rd degree burns resulting in several skin grafts. Stella spent 2 full years in and out of the hospital and she lost 20% of her body weight. Professionals said this was the worst case of this nature they’d ever seen in their lives!
All of this cost Stella $20,000. Out of pocket! The poor woman was in horrible shape. But McDonald’s didn’t care- guess what kind of compensation they offered Stella?
A measly $800.00!
So the case went to court. Stella wasn’t trying to become a millionaire, the lady was simply asking for the $20,000. she was out on medical bills plus court costs. That’s all.
The court had another idea. While keeping in mind the 700 other burn cases within a 10 year period due to McDonald’s coffee, the jury decided to give Stella a total of McDonald’s usual coffee sales for 2 days, this equaled 2.7 million plus the 20,000 she was asking for minus 20% of that as it was agreed that Stella was about 20% at fault.
Sadly the case was appealed. In December of 1994 it was decided that Stella deserved less than 600K for everything she’d gone through. It’s disgusting!
A gag order was put in place so none of us ever knew the real story and we went on making our jokes about this frivolous lawsuit – myself included.