`Scalded' sue McDonald's

MCDONALD'S IS facing legal action by more than 20 people - some of whom have undergone skin grafts - who claim they were scalded by hot drinks bought at the chain's burger outlets.

The number of claims against the fast-food chain has doubled in the past week since the news that the firm has paid out thousands of pounds to a woman in a similar claim.

Larraine Coeshott, 33, whose leg was scarred after another customer spilt a cup of tea in her lap at a Norfolk branch of McDonald's in June 1997, received pounds 4,000 in an out-of-court settlement last month.

The case, thought to be the first of its kind in Britain, has now raised more than 20 people with similar claims. But although they welcomed the settlement, they did not expect the company to admit liability in all their cases.

Malcolm Johnson, of solicitors Palmer Wheeldon which is co-ordinating the claims, said: "At the moment we are preparing the cases but we do welcome McDonald's action in this particular instance. But in other cases where we have invited McDonald's to concede liability they have refused to do so. But it is good news that one person has got through. If McDonald's do wish to talk to us about settling then we are ready."

In a similar claim against McDonald's back in 1994, an American grandmother, Stella Liebeck, 81, was paid pounds 2m in damages, after she spilt a takeaway coffee in her lap.

A spokesman for McDonald's said: "Any claims that have been received have been dealt with on an individual basis. We have our own specifications for the temperatures that all our goods are produced and served at."

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