McDonald’s and a franchise holder were at fault after a hot Chicken McNugget from a Happy Meal fell on a little girl’s leg and caused second-degree burns, a South Florida jury found in a case reminiscent of the famous hot coffee case of the 1990s.
A second jury will determine how much McDonald’s USA and its franchise owner, Upchurch Foods, should pay the boy and his mother, the South Florida SunSentinel reported.
Thursday’s decision was split, with jurors finding the franchisee liable for negligence and failing to warn customers about the dangers of hot food, and McDonald’s USA liable for failing to provide instructions. for safe food handling. McDonald’s USA was not found negligent, and the jury rejected the argument that the product was defective.
“Our sympathies go out to this family for what happened in this unfortunate incident, as we hold customer safety as one of our highest priorities,” the owner said. of McDonald’s Brent Upchurch said in a statement. “We are very disappointed in today’s ruling because the facts show that our restaurant in Tamarac, Florida did in fact follow protocols in cooking and serving this Happy Meal.”
Jurors heard two days of testimony and arguments about the 2019 episode that left a 4-year-old girl with upper leg burns.
Philana Holmes testified that she bought Happy Meals for her son and then 4-year-old daughter at a McDonald’s drive-thru window in Tamarac, near Fort Lauderdale, the SunSentinel reported. He gave the food to his children, who were in the back seat.
After he finished driving, his daughter started screaming. The mother said she did not know what had happened until she pulled over to help the girl, Olivia Caraballo, who is now 7 years old, the newspaper reported. He saw the burn on the girl’s leg and took photos on his iPhone, with audio clips of the child’s screams.
The sound of the girl’s scream was played in court. The boy, who is autistic, did not testify, the newspaper reported.
McDonald’s lawyers noted that the food had to be hot to prevent salmonella poisoning, and that the nuggets were not meant to be stuck between the seat belt and human flesh for more than two minutes.
The girl’s parents sued, saying McDonald’s and the franchise owner failed to train employees, failed to warn customers about the “dangerous” temperature of the food, and for cooking the food at a much higher temperature than necessary.
While both sides agreed that the nugget caused the burns, the family’s lawyers argued that the temperature was more than 200 degrees (93 Celsius), while the defense said it did not exceed 160 degrees (71 Celsius).
The case is likely to evoke memories of the McDonald’s coffee case of the 1990s, which became an urban legend of sorts about seemingly trivial cases, even when a jury and judge found them out.
A New Mexico jury awarded Stella Liebeck, 81, $2.7 million in punitive damages after she was scalded in 1992 by hot coffee from McDonald’s that spilled on her lap, burning her legs, groin and buttocks, while she tried to hold the cup with his legs. while removing the lid to add cream outside a drive-thru.
He suffered third degree burns and spent more than a week in the hospital.
He initially asked McDonald’s for $20,000 to cover hospital expenses, but the company went to trial. A judge later reduced the $2.7 million award to $480,000, which he said was appropriate for McDonald’s “willful, wanton, reckless” and “reckless” behavior.
Top Photo: Philana Holmes and her daughter Olivia Caraballo at the trial. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
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