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Watch: The Real Story Behind That McDonald’s Hot Coffee Lawsuit

This was about so much more than just money

Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Fast food giant McDonald’s is an attractive candidate for lawsuits thanks to the infamous 1993 suit in which the company shelled out nearly $3 million dollars to a woman named Stella Liebeck over hot coffee. The story became a poster child for frivolous lawsuits filed by people seeking big payouts from companies over complaints some deemed absurd. As Adam Ruins Everything explains, Liebeck’s story became a punchline even though the facts of her case were extremely serious and relevant.

Here’s how things actually went down: Liebeck was seriously injured with third-degree burns after accidentally spilling hot coffee from McDonald’s onto her lap in a parked car. The burns caused her to go into shock, and she had to receive skin grafts. The incident left her permanently disfigured.

Investigations revealed that McDonald’s was heating its coffee to upwards of 190 degrees Fahrenheit and that the company had received hundreds of complaints from customers who were burned by the almost-boiling hot beverages. In spite of those facts, Liebeck first pursued only compensation for medical expenses. Watch the full illustrated story in the video above.

The Truth About the McDonald's Coffee Lawsuit [YouTube]

The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Lawsuits Just Keep on Coming [E]

All McDonald’s Coverage [E]

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