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
The 'Lectric Law Library. (1996). The actual facts about the
McDonald's coffee case. Retrieved from http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm
Topic: McDonald’s Coffee Case Debate
NO 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 "NO VIOLATION."
VIOLATION: Students 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
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.
STUDENT 1 RESPONSE
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.
STUDENT 2 RESPONSE
(NOTE: YOU ARE ON THE VIOLATION SIDE
SO YOU SUPPOSE TO DEBATE THIS WITH STUDENT TO WHO CLAIMS IT WAS NOT A
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 in between.
Cain, Kevin, 1994. THE McDONALD'S COFFEE LAWSUIT.
Retrieved from: http://www.jtexconsumerlaw.com/V11N1/Coffee.pdf