In a 2019 incident, a girl, 4, suffered a second degree burn from a hot chicken nugget which was part of a happy meal her mother had bought from a McDonald’s drive-thru in Tamarac, Florida. The Jury, in a split decision, has found the Franchise liable.
Philana Holmes was driving with her two children when she bought a happy meal from a McDonald’s drive through. Moments after she left the shop she heard her daughter Olivia Caraballo scream. When she looked at her she realized it was a chicken McNugget that caused the pain. An excessively hot chicken nugget had fallen on the four year old’s thigh and caused a second degree burn. Philana videographed the injury as well as the girl’s screams. All of which would later serve as evidence during the trial.
Four years after the incident, the jury heard two days of testimony about the McNugget incident before determining on Thursday that the McDonald’s franchise in Tamarac, Florida is liable for the incident.
The prosecutor’s argument was that the franchise failed to notify their customers about the heat-risk of the chicken nuggets. It was an act of negligence and the nuggets were defectively manufactured. They argued that the nuggets were 200 degrees F hot. However, the McDonald’s franchise denied, stating that the nuggets were never heated over 160 degrees. Nonetheless, the burn was real and the jury has found the franchise owners responsible.
The suing party had also included McDonald’s USA in the lawsuit, but the jury has not found McDonald’s USA liable or negligent. So, the onus of responsibility rests with the franchise alone in this case. “Our sympathies go out to this family for what occurred in this unfortunate incident, as we hold customer safety as one of our highest priorities,” said McDonald’s owner-operator Brent Upchurch. He has also expressed his deep disappointment at the jury’s verdict stating that the franchise had followed all necessary safety protocols.
This case reminds us of the infamous “Hot-Coffee” lawsuit where Stella Leibeck, an old lady spilled freshly bought coffee from McDonald’s on her lap. She had to spend 8 days in hospital and underwent two years of treatment. She tried to settle with McDonald’s for $20,000 for her losses. The fast food giant denied any responsibility and offered $800. Leibeck went on to win the case and receive $160,000 for her troubles and $640,000 in punitive damages.