A Florida jury made a stunning ruling last week, as they ruled McDonald’s is liable for the burns a 4-year-old suffered when her parents gave her a Happy Meal in her car seat. The child subsequently dropped a chicken McNugget, which got wedged between her leg and the seat, resulting in second-degree burns.
It is unclear why the parents aren’t taking any responsibility for not checking the food before giving it to the child, but the were quick to blame the store. The Today Show reported:
Philana Holmes and Humberto Caraballo Estevez filed a lawsuit that claimed their 4-year-old daughter was left with second-degree burns from the “unreasonably and dangerously” hot nuggets she ate in her “Happy Meal,” according to WTVJ. The suit said one nugget purchased at a restaurant in Tamarac, Florida, became lodged in the preschooler’s car seat and burned her leg.
One would seem to think it would be best practice for a parent to either assume cooked food is hot or, at the very least, check it before handing it to a toddler, but best practices are in short supply in a country as needlessly litigious as America.
McDonald’s has been in the spotlight before; in 1992, Stella Liebeck famously burned her lap with hot McDonald’s coffee and was subsequently awarded $2.7 million. Common sense would dictate that one would assume hot coffee is, well, hot.
However, while McDonald’s was partially to blame after only offering a paltry $800 dollars for her medical bills, the lawyers and jury sent a message to every business out there; hire good lawyers and take customer complaints seriously, even if they sound frivolous.
— Curly Tales (@CurlyTalesIndia) May 11, 2023
In this case, it could be argued that the parents should actually be responsible, but alas, a jury disagreed and McDonald’s is taking the hit. Though no negligence was determined, the jury found a box with hot food in it should say it has hot food in it. The Today Show continued:
After beginning deliberations on May 10, the jury ultimately found that McDonald’s and Upchurch were not negligent for the second-degree burns. However, the jury determined that the two businesses were at fault for not including warnings on the food, which caused the child to be burned.
Holmes said she was “thankful” for the decision.
“Just thankful that Olivia’s voice was heard. I’m glad McDonalds now has to acknowledge there’s a warning that needs to be put out there. Just thankful,” she said, according to WTVJ.
These are the same type of people that are responsible for warning labels on literally everything. Natural consequences be damned, let’s just slap a label on poison, calling it poison, and when some negligent parent lets their kid into the poison, maybe sue the company that makes the bottle.
Forget about personal responsibility if you can blame someone else for your own actions. It could be argued that even if the box already had a warning label on it that the food was hot, a toddler wouldn’t be able to read it, and the parents should assume the food is hot.
For their part, McDonald’s is holding the line claiming they did nothing wrong. Ownership released this statement:
“We take every complaint seriously and certainly those that involve the safety of our food and the experiences of our customers,” the statement began. “Together with our franchisees, for nearly 70 years, we have consistently served customers safe, high-quality food using strict policies and procedures. This was an unfortunate incident, but we respectfully disagree with the verdict.
”Upchurch continued, “That’s why our restaurant follows strict rules in accordance with food safety best practices when it comes to cooking and serving our menu items, including Chicken McNuggets. We are deeply disappointed with today’s verdict because the facts show that our restaurant in Tamarac, Florida did indeed follow those protocols when cooking and serving this Happy Meal.”
Sorry, Ronald McDonald, facts don’t matter anymore. Neither does parenting or personal responsibility. Looks like Mayor McCheese may get recalled, Grimace may need a part-time job, and the Hamburglar will be forced back into petty theft to pay his bills. Perhaps he can move to California, or just drive through a Burger King, call a lawyer and hope for the best.
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