The world of coffee is huge. There are so many machines, different blends and sizes and shape of grind. It has health benefits and can be used for anything from drinking it, enemas, face packs to anti-cellulite preparations and anti-ageing creams. Coffee has been consumed over many thousands of years and apparently dates back to the Egyptian civilization, who if the stories are to be believed, really loved the stuff.
When you look for anything coffee related, whatever your needs are, the internet is a great tool. When I needed a new coffee machine at home, I used the internet to research and found a great site and came across so many facts and stories along the way too. The most interesting story for me was about a 79-year-old lady, Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The lawsuit that prevailed was labelled as one of the most frivolous in legal history and Stella has gained notoriety in this regard. The story goes that whilst out travelling with her grandson one day,
Stella and her grandson both became hungry, so they decided to stop off at a McDonald’s drive through. After receiving their food and coffee that was in a Styrofoam cup, they drove on and pulled over so they could add cream and sugar to the coffee. When Stella removed the lid of her coffee cup, the hot coffee spilled into her lap. The coffee was soaked up by her sweatpants and gave her third degree burns over approximately 6 per cent of the lower half of her body. Stella was hospitalized that day for 6 weeks and underwent various skin grafts to repair the damage.
It turns out the acceptable temperature for coffee to be served is the same as is produced with home coffee machines. Home coffee machines produce coffee at a temperature between 130 – 140 degrees and on the day in question the McDonalds chains were serving their coffee between 180 – 190 degrees. The family filed a lawsuit against McDonalds and did originally try to settle out of court with the fast-food giant for $20,000, but they refused settlement, which led to additional lawsuits.
The lawsuit became a famous, court room battle/drama. During the court case it was uncovered that more than 700 people made claims against McDonalds over being burned by their coffee. Eventually, Stella was awarded $200,000 in compensatory damages. This amount was reduced to $160,000 because the jury found her 20 percent at fault for the spillage. The jury also awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages.
A post-verdict investigation found that the temperature of coffee at the local Albuquerque McDonalds had been dropped to 158 degrees Fahrenheit and this has now been rolled out across most McDonald’s chains throughout the US. So what started out in the media as a bit of a joke was not so frivolous after all and should prevent scalds from coffee at McDonalds, in the future.