The McDonald’s® coffee case is one of the most famous
civil cases in American law. Almost everyone has heard of it, and most people
have an opinion about it. It is often used as a justification for tort reform.
Prepare for the debate by reading the article "The Actual Facts about the
McDonald's Coffee Case" retrieved from http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm.
In addition, perform some research on tort reform.
The 'Lectric Law Library. (1996). The actual facts
about the McDonald's coffee case. Retrieved from http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm
McDonald’s Coffee Case Debate
VIOLATION: Students whose last names begin with the letters A
through K will argue that McDonald's did not violate its obligation of care to
the consumer by serving coffee at 185 degrees, and tort reform is necessary to
prevent these types of civil judgments. These students should clearly indicate
their position on the debate by beginning each Discussion post with the heading
whose last names begin with the letters L through Z will argue that McDonald's
did violate its obligation of care to the consumer by serving coffee at 185
degrees, and tort reform would prevent worthy plaintiffs from recovering the
full amount of damages to which they are entitled. These students should
clearly indicate their position on the debate by beginning each Discussion post
with the heading "VIOLATION."
Each student must contribute at least one original
idea and/or example representing his or her side of the debate, and each
student must respond to at least one student's argument from the opposing side.
Each student must respond to the ongoing Discussion
that will be moderated by the instructor for the duration of the debate.
Yes, so the critical duty of care here was to
serve coffee at a reasonable temperature, which they exceeded. What was the
stated reason for keeping the coffee this hot? What were the argument that it
should be held at a lower temperature?
Yes, there did seem to be some misinformation in the public. I don't know where
these stories originated, but initially it was claimed that she was driving and
she was trying to put creamer coffee while the car was in motion. Also it is
interesting to note that she was not alone in her complaint. There had many
other people who had also complained to McDonald's, but none of this has any
impact on them.
Professor and Classmates,
I don't think McDonald's violated their obligation of
care when serving their coffee. Common sense says that coffee is served
hot. Why should McDonald's be held accountable for someone not paying
attention to their beverage? If McDonald's is keeping within the industry
standard of coffee temperature wise, then they have already proven their
obligation of care by maintaining the authorized temperature and not selling a
product that falls below standards. Ms. Liebeck unfortunately did not
take heed to the fact that the coffee would be hot. Was this her first
time having coffee from McDonald's? If not, was she negligent for knowingly
putting the coffee between her legs? This should not fall on the part of
McDonald's because they maintained their temperature. It is not like they
made their coffee especially hot just for her. Why didn't the person
directly before and after her not get burnt? If obligation of care to the
consumer has to be written for all things common sense, then we should have
warnings for ice cream being to cold, jaw breakers being to hard and everything
Cain, Kevin, 1994. THE McDONALD'S COFFEE
LAWSUIT. Retrieved from: http://www.jtexconsumerlaw.com/V11N1/Coffee.pdf