• Sun. May 14th, 2023

US McDonald’s loses legal battle over chicken nugget burn incident

A US McDonald’s and a franchise owner have been found responsible for severe burns a girl suffered after a hot chicken nugget fell on her leg.

A Florida jury determined both the fast food giant and its franchise owner, Upchurch Foods, had failed to provide instructions for safe food handling which would have prevented the four-year-old child’s injury.

Philana Holmes and Humberto Caraballo Estevez, filed the lawsuit in 2019, claiming a hot chicken nugget from a Happy Meal fell on their daughter Olivia’s leg and caused second-degree burns, US TV station WPLG reported.

The parents argued the restaurant served a chicken nugget that was “defective, harmful and unfit for human handling”.

The jury will determine how much McDonald’s and UpChurch will pay the family.

In a statement, McDonald’s USA called it an “unfortunate incident” but that they “respectfully disagree with the verdict.”

““We take every complaint seriously and certainly those that involve the safety of our food and the experiences of our customers,” they said.

“Together with our franchisees, for nearly 70 years, we have consistently served customers safe, high-quality food using strict policies and procedures.

“This was an unfortunate incident, but we respectfully disagree with the verdict. Our customers should continue to rely on McDonald’s to follow policies and procedures for serving Chicken McNuggets safely.”

Franchise owner Brent Upchurch said in a statement the company was ‘disappointed’ in the verdict

“Our sympathies go out to this family for what occurred in this unfortunate incident, as we hold customer safety as one of our highest priorities,” they said.

“That’s why our restaurant follows strict rules in accordance with food safety best practices when it comes to cooking and serving our menu items, including Chicken McNuggets.

“We are deeply disappointed with today’s verdict because the facts show that our restaurant in Tamarac, Florida did indeed follow those protocols when cooking and serving this Happy Meal.

“Our community here in South Florida should remain confident that we will continue serving safe and high-quality meals, just as we’ve done for more than 50 years at Upchurch Management restaurants.”

Fischer Redavid PLLC, the law firm representing the parents, called the verdict a “tremendous victory for a deserving family.”

“Today, a jury of reasonable and measured members of our community rendered a verdict that reflected the truth, the facts, and the law,” Fischer Redavid PLLC said in a statement.

“We don’t view this as a ‘split verdict.’ Two defendants went to trial, denying liability. A jury found both liable.”

The law firm said the jury “selected the theories of liability that the facts and law fit best in their minds.”

“This is full justice for Olivia.”

This is not the first time McDonald has been the centre of a lawsuit.

In 1994, a US woman Stella Liebeck was awarded $4 million (US$2.7 million) in damages after she was scalded by hot coffee from the fast food restaurant that spilled onto her lap, burning her legs, groin and buttocks, as she tried to steady the cup with her legs while prying the lid off to add cream outside a drive-thru.

She suffered third-degree burns and spent more than a week in the hospital.

She had initially asked McDonald’s for $30,000 (US$20,000) to cover hospital expenses, but the company went to trial.

A judge later reduced the compensation to $720,000 (US$480,000), which he said was appropriate for the “willful, wanton, reckless” and “callous” behaviour by McDonald’s.

– with New York Post

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