In a recent court decision that evokes memories of a famous 1994 case involving hot coffee at McDonald’s, a Florida jury awarded a mother $800,000 after her young daughter suffered second-degree burns from a piping hot McNugget that fell onto her lap in 2019.
The verdict, reached after less than two hours of deliberation, granted $400,000 in damages for the past four years and an additional $400,000 for the future.
The incident involved Philana Holmes and her daughter Olivia, who was just four years old at the time of the accident.
Holmes had purchased Happy Meals for her children and passed the food to them in the back seat before driving away.
Little did she know that one of the McNuggets was unusually hot and would lead to a painful and emotionally distressing ordeal for her young daughter.
When Olivia began screaming in pain, Holmes quickly pulled into a parking lot and discovered the burn on her inner thigh.
The wound took about three weeks to heal, but during that time, it caused immense pain and discomfort to the young girl, leading to emotional distress and fear of touching the affected area. Eventually, the burn turned into a small, raised scar, which is expected to remain with Olivia for the rest of her life.
McDonald’s Hot McNugget Lawsuit: A Painful Scar and a Quest for Justice
During the trial, the family’s attorney, John Fischer, argued that Olivia deserved $5 million in damages for the past four years and an additional $10 million to cover the estimated 74 years of her life that lie ahead.
He emphasized that the suffering experienced by Olivia could not be reversed in the future, necessitating appropriate compensation now.
However, the legal team representing McDonald’s countered that Olivia’s pain had subsided once her wound healed and believed that $156,000 would suffice to cover both past and future costs related to the incident.
Defense attorney Jennifer Miller attributed any ongoing emotional distress to the mother rather than the child.
The jury’s final award of $800,000 seems to reflect a balanced decision, taking into account the pain and suffering Olivia endured as well as the potential emotional impact that the scar may have on her future.
The amount falls significantly short of the $15 million the family’s attorney had requested, but Philana Holmes expressed her satisfaction with the verdict, stating that she had not expected any compensation at all.
The case has drawn comparisons to the notorious 1994 lawsuit where Stella Liebeck was burned by hot coffee from McDonald’s, resulting in a significant monetary award.
In that instance, McDonald’s faced a public backlash, leading to coffee cups being labeled with warnings.
Following the recent verdict, Holmes hopes that McDonald’s will take voluntary steps to label their chicken nugget boxes with cautionary heat warnings, even though they are not legally obliged to do so.
She also mentioned that her daughter, Olivia, continues to receive speech therapy, attends school, and remains a beautiful little girl, but she looks forward to the possibility of having the scar revised at some point in the future.
Source: Daily Mail