Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Great American Court Cases » Civil Law - Civil Law Versus Criminal Law, Overview And Background, Some Like It Hot: Civil Lawsuit Controversy

Civil Law - Some Like It Hot: Civil Lawsuit Controversy

liebeck coffee burns mcdonald

Of the cases occurring after Vandermark and the shift in liability, Liebeck v. McDonald's stands out as the one case most often quoted, especially in a discussion of tort reform. In 1994, a jury awarded Stella Liebeck $2.9 million in punitive damages for injuries suffered from spilling McDonald's coffee on her lap. The coffee--kept at 180 degrees--caused third-degree burns and Liebeck spent seven days in the hospital and received multiple skin grafts. A judge reduced the award to $480,000 and the two parties ultimately settled for an undisclosed amount. Critics of the liability shift often refer to this case as a "frivolous lawsuit" with an outrageous award. However, supporters of the court's current view of liability point out that Liebeck initially only sought reimbursement for her medical costs, but the fast food chain refused to negotiate. Liebeck then hired an attorney who had settled another coffee case with McDonald's. During the trial, the attorney exposed company documents that showed about 700 reports of coffee burns, including other complaints of third degree burns. Nevertheless, the company failed to implement safer packaging or warn customers until after Liebeck.

Civil Law - Punitive Damage Awards Supply Government With Tax Revenues [next] [back] Civil Law - Overview And Background

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or