Tort Case Essay

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A Significant Tort Case McDonald's coffee case: An American court case that became a cause célèbre for advocates of tort reform. An 81-year old woman received 3rd degree burns from spilled coffee purchased from the restaurant chain and sued to recover her costs. The coffee that patrons bought at the drive-through, it turns out, was heated to be much hotter than the coffee they served inside was. The jury found the conduct of McDonald's so objectionable that they not only awarded her compensatory damages, but awarded the woman millions of dollars in punitive damages. Many casual observers considered this excessive. The punitive damages were later significantly reduced by a judge on appeal, though this fact is not as widely known as the jury's initial decision. When I first heard about this case, I found it funny and ridiculous. I was thinking how can a grown woman not have the logic to conclude that her cup of coffee is hot and she needs to be cautious and what was more ridiculous is how she won the case and got 2.9 million dollars out of it. But after researching about this case I came to find very interesting facts that made me support the jury’s judgment all the way and realize how serious the incident was. What I have not known about this case was that for years, McDonald's had known they had a problem with the way they make their coffee - that their coffee was served much hotter (at least 20 degrees more so) than at other restaurants. Also a McDonald's quality assurance manager testified in the case that the Corporation was aware of the risk of serving dangerously hot coffee and had no plans to either turn down the heat or to post warning about the possibility of severe burns, even though most customers wouldn't think it was possible. The woman involved in this infamous case suffered very serious injuries - third degree burns on her groin, thighs and

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