Burger King coffee was too hot, Louisiana lawsuit claims

The coffee served at a Burger King Drive-Thru window was too hot and resulted in severe burns and other injuries, a Louisiana woman claims in a recently filed lawsuit against the fast-food chain restaurant.

According to several reports, Kathleen Perez says she purchased a cup of coffee at the take-out window at a Burger King restaurant in Metairie, Jefferson Parish, La., some time in 2012. The employee serving her the order she placed in the restaurant’s Drive Thru allegedly failed to secure the lid on the coffee. The drink spilled onto her chest, arms, and legs, causing her to suffer serious burns and other injuries.

In addition to the charge that the employee at that Burger King restaurant failed to secure the lid on the coffee she ordered, Perez also believes the drink was too hot and hotter than any other coffee served at restaurants in the area. The lawsuit filed against Burger King Corp. and the franchise owner, Strategic Restaurants Acquisition Company LLC, in Louisiana’s 24th Judicial District Court in early November claims that the “extreme temperature” of the coffee caused serious injuries, burns, permanent scarring, and discoloration of the skin, according to a report from The Louisiana Record, a regional legal journal.

The suit also seeks unspecified damages for pain and suffering, disability, embarrassment, and mental anguish.

This news is bound to conjure up memories of the now-iconic and landmark lawsuit filed in 1994 by a woman against McDonald’s restaurants in which she claimed to have suffered third-degree burns as a result of spilled scalding hot coffee. The case – Liebeck vs. McDonald’s Restaurants – was publicly debated for months, even years, and drew a line for some on the definition of frivolous lawsuits.

Those who believed that to be the case in that case were likely short on the details of the case and only took a cynical look at the premise of the lawsuit. The Plaintiff in that 1994 case was eventually awarded more than $160,000 for the severe and permanent injuries she suffered after the coffee she ordered at a McDonald’s drive-through window had spilled onto her pelvic region.

The scalding brew was clearly too hot as any coffee drinker can attest that while normally a spilled coffee may hurt and even leave a temporary burn mark on the skin, it’s never hot enough to require surgeries to repair damaged skin or result in any permanent scarring or disabilities as it did for Stella Liebeck more than 17 years ago. The case was recently the focus of a documentary entitled “Hot Coffee” which fully explained Liebeck’s ordeal with that fateful cup of coffee and the grief it has leveled on her life since then, cutting apart any arguments waged then that the lawsuit was frivolous or petty.

That lawsuit served as precedent for a “slew” of similar lawsuits to be filed in the years since, including two earlier this year in which McDonald’s, again, is named as the Defendant which served a coffee too hot. According to a HuffingtonPost.com report, two lawsuits were filed in March 2012 in the same Cook County, Ill., courtroom that detailed two separate incidents in which scalding hot coffee was served at Chicago-area McDonald’s restaurants.

In one lawsuit, a grandmother claims she gave an empty cup of coffee to her granddaughter to throw away during a visit to the restaurant. Mistakenly, the 4-year-old girl went to have it refilled by a McDonald’s employee. As the girl returned to her grandmother with the drink, it spilled onto her and caused second-degree burns. The suit seeks $4 million in damages because the Plaintiff claims that serving coffee to a girl as young as 4 is a violation of McDonald’s Restaurants’ corporate policy.

In another lawsuit filed at the same time, a Chicago woman claims she suffered “horrific burns” to her pelvic region and other areas on her body when the lid on a cup of coffee she purchased at McDonald’s fell off and spilled.

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