The “Mcdonald’s Espresso” Case

In one of the vital extensively misreported and misunderstood circumstances in current reminiscence, a Albuquerque, New Mexico jury awarded 79 year-old Stella Liebeck $2.9 million for extreme burns suffered after she spilled a cup of McDonald’s espresso, which she had positioned between her knees.

The jury’s award was for $200,000 in compensatory damages and $2.7 million for punitive damages (due to McDonald’s callous conduct). The jury additionally discovered Mrs. Liebeck 20% negligent, lowering the compensatory damages to $160,000. The trial decide additionally lowered the punitive damages to $480,000.
Mrs. Liebeck didn’t obtain $2.9 million, or $2.86 million, or $740,000. The events entered a post-verdict settlement for a undisclosed quantity

(States have completely different authorized requirements with respect to negligence. New Mexico makes use of a comparative negligence rule, which assigns blame and, subsequently, judgments proportionally. Different states similar to North Carolina use a contributory negligence normal, which bars a plaintiff from restoration if their actions contributed even 1% to the accident!)


Mrs. Liebeck, whereas a passenger in her grandson’s car, bought a cup of espresso on the drive-through window at McDonalds. Whereas the car was stopped, she positioned the cup securely between her knees and tried to take away the lid. The cup by accident tipped over and poured the scalding (180-190ยก Fahrenheit) sizzling water onto her lap.

She suffered third-degree burns over 16 % of her body. Throughout her eight day hospitalization she underwent pores and skin grafting and painful whirlpool treatment for debridement (elimination of broken tissue) of her wounds. She has in depth scarring and was disabled for greater than two years.

Regardless of these very painful and debilitating accidents and their costly medical treatment, Mrs. Liebeck supplied to settle with McDonald’s for $20,000.

McDonald’s refused to settle and the case went to trial.


The jury heard the next proof within the case:

o McDonalds’s espresso gross sales are $1.three million per day.

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