The McDonalds case, as it were, in Germany/Kaffeeklage in München

11.11.2011 – Pressemitteilung 10/11
Germans have been reminded this week of the Stella Liebeck case, or their memories of it, in which McDonalds eventually settled the case where a woman received third-degree burns from coffee spilt on her legs.

The Landgericht (Regional Court) in Munich did not award damages to a German woman, the passenger in a car at a drive-through restaurant. In this case she seems to have been contributorily negligent to a greater degree than Stella Liebeck, and had second-degree burns. Possibly the lid was put on the cup too loosely. The plaintiff sued for damages of about 1500 euros. The court thought she should have checked that the lid was on properly before she put the coffee between her thighs to hold it while she took the driver’s coffee too.

German article
with photo of plaintiff and lawyer.

Court press report in German

LATER NOTE: mentioning Stella Liebeck always leads to discussions (see the German comments on law blog). The Wikipedia article says she spilt the coffee in her lap and it soaked into her sweatpants – she was burnt on her thighs, buttocks and groin.

7 thoughts on “The McDonalds case, as it were, in Germany/Kaffeeklage in München

  1. Pretty sure it was her crotch and not her legs, which probably explained the higher settlement. Wikipedia states she “suffered 3rd degree burns on a sensitive area of her lap”. I still think she was an idiot for claiming she didn’t think the coffee would be that hot. Duh! Coffee is by definition hot. Guess that’s why I’m not a lawyer :-)

    • I will check up and add a note – but in my memory, she spilt the coffee on thick tights and was unable to get them off quickly enough to reduce the burns. The skin on the inner thighs is quite sensitive. However, I suppose if it was her crotch, the US media would be slow to mention it.
      I didn’t link to my several earlier posts on the coffee case.

    • Yeah, coffee is hot, but there is a difference between hot and hot. I have spilled coffee before, even fresh brewed and yeah, it was hot but it was no where near a degree where it would have scalded me or caused 3rd degree burns.
      I have had coffee from McD where it took me about half an hour before I could even take a sip because it was just ridiculously hot.
      I know this case is often used as an example for frivolous law suits, but in all honesty – the temperature of that coffee was beyond what anyone could anticipate as the temperature of a hot beverage.

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