Kentucky Court of Appeals: 'Hot coffee is hot, and hot things cause burns.'
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- The lawsuit was harshly criticized as being frivolous, lampooned on "Seinfeld" and late-night talk shows and seen as a clarion call for legal reform.
But Stella Liebeck won her 1992 suit against McDonald's, in which she claimed a cup of coffee was too hot and burned her.
A jury in 1994 found that McDonald's was serving its coffee too hot and awarded Liebeck $2.9 million, though that amount was later reduced to about $500,000, according to the New York Times.
Franklin County resident Margie Ann Faesy, however, had no such luck last week, despite a similar case where she claimed scalding McDonald's coffee left her with second degree burns.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals dismissed the case on Thursday, ruling that a hot cup of coffee is "inherently dangerous" and there are warnings on the cups.
"Everyone understands or should understand that hot coffee (what Faesy specifically ordered) is hot, and hot things cause burns," the court ruled in dismissing Faesy's 2013 civil suit against a Frankfort McDonald's.
Faesy claimed that she fell on Aug. 29, 2012, while carrying her coffee on a sidewalk outside the restaurant, spilling the hot beverage and leaving burns. She claimed she spent more than $5,000 on medical treatment and was in severe pain for weeks. The coffee was between 195-205 degrees and McDonald's failed to keep it at a reasonable temperature, according to the lawsuit.
A Franklin County Circuit Court judge initially threw out the case, arguing, in part, that Faesy admitted it was her fault she fell and would not have been burned otherwise.
In its ruling, the appeals court compared coffee makers to gun manufacturers, pointing out that both can be dangerous if used improperly.
And Faesy provided no proof that her cup of coffee was hotter than coffee she would have been served at any another restaurant, the court concluded in its unanimous ruling.
In addition, McDonald's provided a cup that did not malfunction and contained a warning that the coffee was hot, according to the ruling. The appeals court did not mention the 1992 lawsuit, which was out of New Mexico.
McDonald's still faces hot coffee lawsuits from time to time, but most appear to involve malfunctions with the container, not how hot the beverage is.
Faesy could not be immediately reached for comment.
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