Family is awarded $6.5 million for baby’s coffee burns at Carlsbad resort
A San Diego federal jury awarded a nearly $6.5-million verdict to the family of a 9-month-old girl who was burned by coffee at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa.
The Deruveyer family was visiting from Michigan in May 2016 when the incident occurred.
The family’s three children and 22-year-old nanny were seated at a patio table at the hotel’s Bistro 65 for breakfast when a waiter left a pot of hot coffee on the table within reach of Hadley, who was sitting in a wooden high chair, according to evidence presented at trial. The nanny didn’t see the waiter place the carafe because her back was turned to help another child with his clothing.
Hadley then pulled the carafe on top of her, spilling the scorching liquid on her left finger, torso and upper thighs, according to the family.
No adult saw the incident; the father was dealing with a stroller nearby and the mother in the restroom when they heard their daughter’s screams, according to a trial memorandum.
Hadley’s older brother, now 8, testified at trial and demonstrated how the waiter placed the coffee pot in front of his sister, according to Gomez Trial Attorneys, the firm that represented the family.
The infant suffered third-degree burns, requiring several surgeries, the family’s attorneys said. More surgeries will be needed as she grows, and she will be permanently scarred.
Attorneys for the resort argued that the girl didn’t pull the carafe onto herself, but rather reached into a coffee-filled mug. They said the waiter placed the carafe on the table at the instruction of the nanny.
The waiter testified at trial that he warned the nanny that the pot “was hot.”
The hotel further placed blame on the nanny for not properly supervising the children and on the parents for allowing the nanny to be responsible for three young children.
The jury Tuesday found Omni negligent and awarded Hadley, now 3, $5.6 million in damages, including $160,970 in past medical expenses, $441,397 in future medical expenses and $5 million in non-economic damages. The jury also awarded Hadley’s mother, father and two brothers a total of $879,000 in damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The jury found Omni 92.5% responsible for the incident and the nanny 7.5% responsible.
The verdict was rendered after about a day of deliberations.
Omni did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Davis writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
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