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  1. McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit



    Many of you have heard of the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit, but not many people really know the facts of the case. Research the case: Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants. After researching the case answer the following questions:

    1. Which fact were you most surprised to learn in your research?

    2. Do you think McDonald’s should have been held liable under the theory of strict liability? Why or why not?

    3. Applying both contributory and comparative negligence defenses, do you agree with the jury verdict in the case? Why or why not?



Subject Business Pages 2 Style APA


The McDonalds Hot Coffee Lawsuit

                The controversial McDonalds lawsuit has several points of view to its storyline. However, what stands out the most about the case is the fact that it was among the very few that a working-class citizen was able to win a lawsuit over a team of lawyers representing the famous restaurant. The corporate lawyers did not take their loss lightly. They were successful in misinforming the public through the media and shading the picture of Stella Liebeck as a greedy lady who got her way in a lawsuit. This paper sheds light on the McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit and seeks to find out if the jury was right in the judgment they passed and if McDonalds should have been held liable under the theory of strict liability.

                The hot coffee lawsuit raised eyebrows with several people questioning the negligence of Stella Liebeck as she placed a cup of obviously steaming hot coffee between her laps in her car. Some might say she deserved no compensation at all for her carelessness and she should have known better. This might as well have been Liebeck’s mentality when she initially did not want to go to court (Andrea, 1994). All she wanted was the restaurant to foot her medical bills, she only took to the court when the restaurant refused to pay up knowing she will be backed up by the theory of strict liability and would have her case heard.

                The most surprising fact about this case is how well the media hid the truth from the public about the incident and forged the information to look like it was solely Liebeck’s fault in her carelessness and decided to ‘earn  a buck’ from the establishment (Andrea, 1994). This goes to prove that the restaurant’s legal team knew they would face public prosecution for their incredibly hot beverages considering the numerous complaints of scalding from their drinks. This explains how they without a doubt should be held responsible under the theory of strict liability.

                Furthermore, I believe the jury made the right choice in awarding madam Liebeck the money since all the evidence was in her favor. Additionally, she was at fault for irresponsibly placing the coffee cup between her legs, making the jury to fine her the 20% from her initial compensation in regard to the comparative negligence act. For her case, the jury did not apply contributory negligence for the woman knew the coffee was hot, but it was beyond her power to know that it would be extremely hot thus pushing that blame to the restaurant. This proves that indeed the jury made a fair and just verdict.




Cain, K. G. (2007). The McDonald’s Coffee Lawsuit. Journal of Consumer & Commercial Law11(1).

Gerlin, A., & ALBUQUERQUE, N. (1994). McDonald’s Callousness Was Real Issue, Jurors Say, In Case of Burned Woman. Wall Street Journal14, A1.

Texas Trial Lawyers Association. (2015). McDonalds’ Hot Coffee Case – Read the Facts NOT the Fiction


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