Who is (was) Stella Liebeck?
She was the “little old lady” famous for the “McDonald’s coffee lawsuit.”
Stella Liebeck became the face of every newspaper and TV broadcast for suing McDonald’s after spilling coffee on herself and being scalded.
Many see the story as an old woman trying to get rich quickly by spilling coffee on herself and suing the company for it. This version is slightly over the top and not a true depiction of what happened.
The facts in the “McDonald’s coffee lawsuit.”
Most restaurants serve their coffee between 160-170 degrees Farenheit but McDonald’s believes in going beyond that and serving theirs at a temperature that is about 20 degrees hotter than these normal ones. Even though they have had claims from more than 700 people about their temperature and the burns that people have obtained from it, they still choose not to lower the temperature.
We might all look at this as though this lady made a huge deal out of nothing, but Stella Liebeck suffered the most serious kind of burns to her thighs and sensitive areas and had to be rushed to the ER to treat her shock. Here she faced numerous days in hospital and many very painful skin grafting procedures while still facing permanent scarring and a hospital bill of over $10 000.
Not wanting more than just compensation for her huge hospital bill, Stella Liebeck was forced to sue when McDonald’s stated that her claims were extreme and that they would pay only a tenth of it.
Stella Liebeck went to court with her case and although she was offered a great amount for her injuries and punitive damages ($200,000), she was at fault in some way so the judge offered her a slightly lesser amount ($160,000 ) and eventually after appeals were made and amounts changed, this case was settled for an amount unknown to the public.
The jury also awarded another $2.7 million in punitive damages against McDonald’s because they knew their coffee was too hot and they served it like that anyway despite the numerous complains because it “tasted better.”