Justinian C. Lane, Esq.
Let Justice Be Done, Though the Heavens May Fall

Justinian Lane's Blog

Justinian's Blog

The Truth About the McDonalds Coffee Case

Perhaps the most well-known "frivolous lawsuit" is the story of Stella Liebeck - the woman who was burned by hot coffee from McDonalds. Here are the facts about the McDonald's lawsuit; decide for yourself if the suit was frivolous:

1: Stella Liebeck was a 79-year-old grandmother who was the passenger in her grandson's car.

2: McDonalds served the coffee at roughly 190 degrees. 190 Degree liquid will cause third-degree burns within 2-7 seconds of contact with the skin.

3: Stella was wearing cotton jogging pants, and the 190 degree liquid soaked into the pants. She received third-degree burns to her thighs and genitals. This is what a third-degree burn looks like:


4: McDonalds admitted that the coffee was not fit for human consumption at the temperature they served it.

5: Over 700 men, women, and children had been burned prior to Stella's lawsuit.

6: Stella offered to settle with McDonalds just for her medical bills. They refused.

Here is a PDF file that explains the suit in better detail. It's authored by the attorney who won the case. I tried to get permission from him to post this, but he never responded to my e-mails. This didn't surprise me: No one I've ever contacted about tort reform has bothered to respond to my e-mails.

Hopefully, this clears up some of the misconceptions that Stella was a careless woman who spilled some hot coffee on herself and just needed some aloe vera.

The question I have is why didn't the media report about how badly burned and disabled she was? I wonder if it has anything to do with the tens of millions of dollars McDonalds spends on advertising?