If you’ve ever ordered a coffee through McDonald’s and thought “it’s a bit tepid” it may be because of Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1992, Stella, then 79 years old was a passenger in her grandson’s vehicle. After purchasing a coffee from a McDonald’s Drive-Thru, Stella’s grandson stopped the vehicle so she could add cream and sugar. Stella placed the coffee between her knees and attempted to remove the lid. Unfortunately, the entire contents of the coffee cup spilled onto Stella’s lap, causing third-degree burns over 16% of her body.
Stella subsequently sued McDonald’s alleging that the coffee was too hit. The jury agreed, and Stella was initially awarded $3million in damages. The trial judge reduced this to approximately $640,000.
So, if you order coffees at McDonald’s and think it’s not hot enough, now you know why.