Nebraska residents may remember the famous lawsuit that swept the nation in the early 1990s — when a woman sued McDonald’s after she had spilled hot coffee on herself. After light was shed on the court case, American citizens quickly formed their own opinions on how the case should have turned out. Most simply based their opinion on the small amount of information that was supplied by the mass media. Unfortunately, if these people had looked at the actual details of the case, and the serious injury that the woman was left with, their opinions might have changed.
In 1992, Stella Liebeck spilled a hot cup of coffee on herself, which she had purchased from McDonald’s. She then sued the company a year later. Jurors were presented with facts about the woman’s burns, which had covered 16% of her body and caused third-degree burns in her groin area. it turned out that over 700 burn complaints had been filed against McDonald’s in the past. In the end, Liebeck was awarded $2.9 million for her injuries.
These facts were not covered by the media, however, and Liebeck was portrayed as an older woman who was just trying to make a quick buck. The majority of United States’ citizens believed this instead of doing their own research. A college professor once described this story as the most misunderstood in the country.
Some Nebraska residents might be dealing with a serious injury of their own. If there is one thing Stella Liebeck’s case proves, it’s that a person may be eligible for monetary damages if they have suffered in a similar situation. Hopefully this story will open the eyes of many people, who might otherwise feel that certain injuries don’t warrant the pursuance of restitution. Often, the initial details of a particular occurrence are not accurate, and it helps to gather all the facts.
Source: Retro Report, Taking the Lid Off the McDonald’s Coffee Case, No author, Oct. 21, 2013