Roughly thirty years after the inciting incident behind the infamous lawsuit that has since come to serve as the posterchild for “frivolous lawsuits,” McDonald’s is yet again being sued over a spilled cup of hot coffee.
In the 2023 lawsuit, an elderly woman alleges that a San Francisco McDonald’s served her a scalding hot cup of coffee with an improperly attached lid, causing the drink to spill when she attempted to drink it, severely burning her.
Mable Childress, 85, also alleges that employees “refused” to assist her after the incident.
McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski denied this in a statement, arguing that management and employees at the location spoke to the woman within minutes of the incident.
Childress argues that negligence on the part of the McDonald’s franchise was a “substantial factor” for her injuries.
In a statement provided to CNN Peter Ou, the franchisee responsible for the location where the incident occurred, said his McDonald’s takes “every customer complaint seriously,” and when the woman was injured at his restaurant, “employees and management team spoke to her within a few minutes and offered assistance.”
The franchisee also noted that the company is “reviewing this new legal claim in detail.”
This lawsuit, filed just last week, loudly echoes the 1992 hot-coffee-controversy faced by the company.
Back in 1992, a 79-year-old woman was sitting in the passenger’s seat of a car parked outside a McDonald’s in Albuquerque when she removed the lid of her cup to add cream and sugar to her coffee.
The cup tipped over and spilled all over lap, causing her to suffer third-degree burns that required her to receive multiple skin grafts.
McDonald’s policy at the time was to serve its coffee at dangerously high temperatures that would be expected to cause burns in seconds, leading to the corporation receiving more than 700 other complaints of serious burns.
Although the woman was initially awarded $3 million, she ultimately settled for roughly $480,000.
The lawsuit alleged that the nuggets were “unreasonably and dangerously” hot, causing the child to suffer second-degree burns.
Earlier this summer, a jury ruled in favor of the family, stating that they ought to be awarded a total of $800,000 in damages.
It remains to be seen how the courts will ultimately rule in this newest lawsuit against the multi-billion-dollar fast-food corporation.