L.A. woman sues McDonald’s over hot coffee, 20 years after huge verdict


A woman has filed suit against McDonald’s Corp., saying she was burned by hot coffee that spilled on her at one of the fast-food chain’s Los Angeles restaurants.

The lawsuit comes 20 years after a jury awarded $2.9 million to a woman who was badly burned after she spilled hot coffee into her lap at a McDonald’s in Albuquerque. That verdict was widely criticized and became a rallying cry for advocates of legal reform.

A judge later reduced the verdict to $640,000 and the case settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.


McDonald’s coffee: In the Jan. 10 Business section, an article about a woman suing McDonald’s over burns from a spilled cup of hot coffee said that the injury occurred Jan. 12, 2012. It happened Jan. 9, 2012. —

The new case was filed by Paulette Carr, who said she was injured Jan. 12, 2012, after ordering the coffee at the drive-through window of a McDonald’s on Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys. She seeks unspecified monetary damages in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

“The lid for the hot coffee was negligently, carelessly and improperly placed on the coffee cup … resulting in the lid coming off the top of the coffee at the window, causing the hot coffee to spill onto the plaintiff,” Carr said in the lawsuit.

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The lawsuit does not describe the severity of Carr’s injuries. Her attorney, Sheri Manning, did not respond to a request for comment. A McDonald’s spokeswoman also did not respond to a request for comment.

The 1994 verdict attracted worldwide media attention and was mocked by radio and television talk-show hosts and in one episode of the television comedy, “Seinfeld.” The verdict was also cited by proponents of tort reform.

Relatives of the woman injured in the 1992 coffee spill said the verdict was justified, noting the woman suffered third-degree burns that required skin graft surgery. They said McDonald’s directed its franchises to serve coffee at dangerously hot levels.



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