Nearly 18 years ago, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck famously sued McDonald’s Corp., blaming the restaurant chain for third-degree burns she suffered when she spilled a cup of hot coffee on her lap. Liebeck’s case fueled hilarious parodies and inspired tort reformists to push for change. Nonetheless, two more people filed hot-coffee lawsuits against the fast-food giant last week.
Mona Abdelal of Norridge, Ill., took her two grandchildren to a nearby McDonald’s in January. According to Abdelal’s lawsuit, she asked her 4-year-old granddaughter to throw away her empty coffee cup, but the child misunderstood and took the cup to the front counter to get her grandmother a refill. Abdelal claims a McDonald’s employee handed a hot cup of coffee to the child without a cardboard holder and without securing the lid, causing “a lot of coffee” to spill onto the girl’s chest, which resulted in second-degree burns and permanent scarring. Abdelal also claims she suffered first-degree burns on her finger when she tried to help her granddaughter.