Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants

Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants: The Burn Heard ‘Round the World

Last month marked the 25th anniversary of the landmark injury case Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants. Sometimes deemed frivolous (and memorably parodied on Seinfeld), the case is really about holding powerful corporations accountable for their bad practices.

What Happened in Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants?

While sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car the 79-year-old Albuquerque resident, Stella Liebeck, accidentally spilled a cup of hot McDonald’s coffee on her lap and suffered third-degree burns to her thighs, buttocks, and groin. The total cost of Mrs. Liebeck’s recovery was estimated at $20,000. After refusing the company’s settlement for a meager $800, the case moved to a jury trial.

The Evidence

Mrs. Liebeck’s attorney presented evidence that McDonald’s held their coffee at 180º to 190º which is at unreasonably higher temperatures than other restaurants. The victim’s attorneys were also able to prove that McDonald’s was aware of hundreds of other burns from their coffee from the prior decade.

The Verdict

The jury awarded Mrs. Liebeck $160,000 in compensatory damages, as well as, nearly $3 million for punitive damages.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?

The case demonstrates even with severe injuries requiring years of medical treatment, Mrs. Liebeck’s attorneys had to fight tirelessly to receive a settlement that she truly deserved.

Having an experienced injury attorney after your accident is critical to receiving fair treatment from an insurance adjuster. At Sam & Ash, LLP, we are committed to the legacy of delivering the compensation accident victims deserve. If you’ve been injured in an accident, call us for answers at 1 (800) 304–2000. There are no obligations, we just want to help. That’s why we are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.