Fri, 12 May 2023 at 4:56 pm BST
A mother has won a legal battle with McDonald’s after her daughter suffered second-degree burns from a hot chicken nugget.
Philana Holmes told jurors that her four-year-old daughter suffered burns to her upper thigh after the McNugget fell from a Happy Meal on to her leg.
In a lawsuit similar to the infamous 1992 McDonald’s “Hot Coffee” case, she took the owner of the franchise where she purchased the meal to court in South Florida, claiming negligence.
She also claimed that the fast food giant had failed to warn customers about the “dangerous” temperature of the food.
However, lawyers for McDonald’s argued that the nuggets had to be hot to avoid risks of salmonella.
They also argued that the McNuggets were not designed to be pressed between a seat belt and human flesh for more than two minutes.
Jurors found the franchise holder liable for negligence and failure to warn customers about the risk of hot food.
They also found McDonald’s USA liable for failing to provide instructions for the safe handling of the food.
However, McDonald’s USA was not found to be negligent, and the jury dismissed the argument that the product was defective.
Another jury will now decide on how much McDonald’s USA and its franchise owner, Upchurch Foods, will pay the child and her mother.
A spokesperson Upchurch Foods said it was “deeply disappointed” with the verdict.
Owner-operator Brent Upchurch said: “The facts show that our restaurant in Tamarac, Florida, did indeed follow those protocols when cooking and serving this Happy Meal.”
Jurors heard two days of arguments about the incident, which took place in 2019 when Ms Holmes’s daughter, Olivia, was aged four.
She told the court that she bought Happy Meals for her son and daughter at a drive-thru window at a McDonald’s in Tamarac, near Fort Lauderdale, and then handed the food to her children, who were in the back seat.
After she drove away, her daughter, who the court heard has autism, started screaming. She pulled over and saw the burn on the girl’s leg and took photos on her iPhone.
Both sides agreed the nugget caused the burns, however, the family’s lawyers argued the temperature was above 93C (200F) while lawyers for McDonald’s argued it was 71C (160F).
The case has drawn similarities to the infamous McDonald’s “Hot Coffee” case, when a woman from New Mexico successfully sued the company after suffering burns when a coffee spilt on to her lap.
Stella Liebeck, 81, was initially awarded $2.7m in damages, but it was later reduced to $480,000.
A British man also sued McDonald’s in 1995 over its apple pies after he suffered burns when some of its contents spilt out on to his arm.
He was awarded £750.