(BTW, I'm pretty certain that microwave thing is an urban myth.)
[Celsius mode engaged.]
There's a pretty large difference between making your coffee at 80 degrees and serving it to people without warning that hot Anything over about 75 degrees is simply too hot to get on your body. Yes, this one was partially her fault, but what about the next guy who gets it spilt on himself by the window guy? If you want to risk your own skin like that good for you, but people do not expect to be handed skin destroyers at drivethough windows. They don't expect to have to wear protective gear to get breakfast.
McDonald's had been warned the coffee was too hot. It had settled other lawsuits from people who said the coffee was too hot. It had 700 complaints from people who had been injured by the coffee. Its own studies said the coffee was too hot. Everything and everyone said the coffee was too hot to be serving people in a car, or even inside. Every single person agreed the coffee was too hot, McD's couldn't find a single person to argue that was a useful temperature to serve coffee at. The only slight excuse McDonald's offered was 'People buy it and take into work, so it has time to cool.', but their own research clearly stated that almost everyone drank their coffee in the car, just like they eat their sandwiches. (After all, most people already have coffee at work.)
So why did McD's keep doing it? It let them keep the coffee fresh for an hour longer.
That is the reason the judge went crazy and awarded the woman several million dollars, dispite her only asking for the twenty thousand dollars in medical expenses the hospital racked up. Companies that blantently disregard people's safety repeatly will eventually get hit with a huge whopping judgement against them.
People didn't leap into lawsuits with McDonalds. She didn't say 'Hey, I can make some money from them.'. As far as she knew, she was the only person hurt. But then her lawyer did some research, and showed the court what was going on, that people were continually injured over a period of years and the courts said, enough is enough, we're going to give every single person, from now on, who's injured by the scalding coffee several million dollars. McDonalds changed its tune almost instantly and brought the temperature of its coffee in line with everyone else.
And I count that as a success of the legal system. The other option is to let a company continue to endanger people for profit, or pass a law for every single safety issue in the world. this way companies make reasonable efforts to protect people. If they don't make a reasonable effort, they get hit with medical bills. If they keep getting hit with medical bills because they're irresponsive and irresponsible, eventually the court hits them with punative damages.
And even you have to admit it really doesn't prove anything about frivolous lawsuits. ;) The woman sued for medical expenses when she got seriously injured by something with no warnings.
Yes, make all the jokes about 'I know coffee is hot' that you want, but that doesn't change the fact that McD's was serving it a good 20 degrees hotter than everyone else with no warning. It doesn't matter how the process of making the coffee works, people expect things they are handed to be in a reasonable temperature range, or else have a warning with them. Coffee, yes, they expect to be hotter, but they expect to be around 60-70 degrees, not 85. Just like I expect my freezer to be -10 to -5 degrees, not -65 degrees and give me frostbite when I touch anything in it. (And, as an aside, that seems like a large jump, the coffee was only 20 degrees hotter, but I'd rather touch something that's -65 than something that's 85.)
-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
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