Roughly 30 years after a woman successfully sued McDonald’s for millions after burning herself with a cup of hot coffee, creating a common case study in tort law, another woman has come forward with a similar lawsuit citing coffee burn injuries.
Mable Childress, 85, said she was left with severe burns across her body after purchasing the hot beverage through a San Francisco McDonald’s drive-through window in June, according to a copy of her lawsuit filed earlier this month against the fast-food giant.
Childress was allegedly attempting to drink from the cup when its lid, which had been improperly secured by the restaurant’s staff, came off, resulting in severe burns. Photos shared with HuffPost through her attorney appear to show some discoloration and redness around her groin area.
“Mable is recovering from her burns as well as emotional distress,” her attorney, Dylan Hackett, said in an email to HuffPost Wednesday.
Childress attempted to report what happened to the restaurant’s staff and did speak with three staff members but they all refused to help her, her lawsuit claims.
Childress, “an elder woman, continued to ask and wait for help, but Defendants ignored her, and she eventually left to treat her wounds,” the suit continues.
The restaurant’s owner Peter Ou has denied that his staff declined to help her and said that they offered immediate assistance.
“My restaurants have strict food safety protocols in place, including training crew to ensure lids on hot beverages are secure,” he said in a statement shared with HuffPost. “We take every customer complaint seriously — and when Ms. Childress reported her experience to us later that day, our employees and management team spoke to her within a few minutes and offered assistance.”
Her lawsuit accuses the restaurant of gross negligence and seeks more than $25,000 in damages.
Childress’ lawsuit resembles one sensationally filed in 1994 that at the time was commonly dismissed by the public as frivolous.
In that case, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck suffered third-degree burns from a cup of coffee that was also purchased through a McDonald’s drive-through window. Liebeck, who was in the vehicle’s passenger seat when the injury occurred, was hospitalized for over a week and required skin grafting.
A jury awarded her $160,000 in compensatory damages and nearly $3 million in punitive damages.