31 October 2007

KingCast presents: The real reason behind the $2.9M McDonald's coffee burn case.

From when I was in law school I remember the reason why the McDonald's Plaintiff, Stella Liebeck recovered so much money ($2.9M later reduced) for her third degree burns:

One reason was that McDonalds superheats its coffee, as I learned from a friend of mine who is now a VP of a regional coffee roasting establishment.

But the reason more germane to the damages award is this:
"Some observers wonder why McDonald's, after years of settling coffee-burn cases, chose to take this one to trial. After all, the plaintiff was a sympathetic figure - an articulate, 81-year-old former department store clerk who said under oath that she had never filed suit before. In fact, she said, she never would have filed this one if McDonald's hadn't dismissed her requests for compensation for pain and medical bills with an offer of $800.

The jury then found that McDonald's had engaged in willful, reckless, malicious or wanton conduct, the basis for punitive damages."

Word to the wise, then: When presented with a personal injury case, Defendants would be well-advised to investigate promptly and offer reasonable compensation.

PS: As if on cue, a Merrimack student was arrested for pouring hot chocolate on someone NH.

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