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Liability When Hot Food is Served Too Hot


You probably already know that if the food you order or are served at a restaurant has a foreign object or dangerous item in it, that you can sue for the contact and ingestion of the foreign substance. But sometimes, it isn’t a foreign body or object in our food that causes injury—it’s the temperature of the food itself that causes us injury.

The McDonald’s Coffee Case

Of course, the most infamous example of food being too hot, is the now famous McDonald’s Hot Coffee case, a case that captured the nation’s fascination so much, it lead to many states passing new, tougher personal injury laws, and lead to the creation of an entire documentary (called “Hot Coffee”) based solely on the case.

But the hot coffee case was largely misunderstood by the general public, and the facts show how dangerous food served at an inappropriate temperature can be.

The coffee served to the elderly women in her car as she was going through the McDonalds drive through was served at a temperature that was so scalding hot, that it was capable of causing (and did cause) 3rd degree burns when contacting the skin for only about 3-7 seconds. Third degree burns require skin grafts, and the woman was hospitalized for a week, and suffered serious disfigurement—all because her skin came into contact with coffee for seconds.

McDonalds also was aware that it was serving coffee too hot, as hundreds of people had previously been seriously burned by its coffee. Evidence in the case revealed that McDonalds knew that its coffee was served at a temperature which was too hot and too dangerous for human consumption, but did nothing about it.

The Chicken McNuggets Case

Once again, McDonalds was recently in the news for a similar case, but this time, involving its chicken nuggets. This time, a young girl dropped a chicken nugget in her lap, a McNugget that was in a children’s happy meal.

The chicken nugget was so hot that, after just pressing against the girl’s skin for seconds, it caused a significant and permanent scar on her leg.

Is Your Food Too Hot?

How hot is too hot? The answer lies in common sense; restaurants should not be serving food that is so hot that it is dangerous to the touch. Nobody should have to handle food, in a drive through or in a sit down restaurant, that will cause hospitalization, or lifelong scarring, after just seconds of physical contact.

When incidents like these happen, it can be easy to blame yourself, for dropping food or touching something that was “supposed to be hot.” But if your injury is so severe, that it impacts your life, or causes you serious and long term pain or disability, it may be time to investigate whether the food you were served was too hot to be safe.

Were you injured by food, or the temperature of food, or anything in your food? Call the Knoxville personal injury lawyers at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today.




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