A McDonald’s in Multnomah County, Oregon is facing a lawsuit brought forth by a fourteen- year-old girl over alleged burns sustained from an employee spilling boiling water on her. She claims to have sustained significant burns to her abdominal area and the lower half of her body.
The lawsuit filed on October 4, 2018 seeks to sue the restaurant for the amount of $1.56 million. The charges allegedly claim the McDonald’s employee served the teen a hazardously hot cup of water sometime during the day of September 29, 2017. The teen claims the water then spilled on her causing severe second-degree burns to her stomach and lower body. By all indications these burns would have included burns to her exterior skin, as well as to her dermis.
It is difficult to make a judgement on how severe the burns to the alleged victim actually were, but second-degree burns are known to be very painful and cause blistering. They can also lead to unattractive scaring and even infection during the healing process.
McDonald’s has faced similar allegations in the past. A high-profile case was won in 1994 when a victim sued the fast food chain after sustaining severe third degree burns to her legs, that dictated she received skin grafts, after spilling a hot cup of McDonald’s coffee.
Cases such as these beg the question of how much responsibility will be placed on a restaurant and a simple hot drink? Where is the line drawn between the restaurants liability and taking personal responsibility?
Furthermore, how long should a person have to file such a lawsuit? The alleged victim was so severely burned that she just now thought to file a law suit over a year after the incident? Can the truthfulness of the claim even be verified at this point?
Every case is unique and must be considered within its own set of circumstances, but can society continue to blame others when something goes wrong? Will we begin to blame spoons for making us fat? Cases such as these raise a vast array of ethical considerations. True victims should always receive proper restitution but at what point does the business become the victim?
In recent years, the tide has been changing and more cases such as these have been won in favor of the victim. It is clear that cases like these will continue to be the norm and set the future course for how such verdicts will be decided. One thing is for certain, McDonalds seems to have a way of getting themselves into hot water with their hot drinks.