Woman wins $3m settlement with Dunkin’ over hot coffee burn allegations

A improperly attached coffee lid allegedly changed this womans life drastically – now she has won $3m in a settlement

Amelia Neath
Thursday 26 October 2023 17:41 BST
Elderly woman receives $3 million in Dunkin' hot coffee burn settlement

A woman has won $3m from a Dunkin’ franchisee in a lawsuit over hot coffee that fell in her lap, which she claims caused her severe burns and life-altering injuries.

The 70-year-old woman from Atlanta suffered third-degree burns in February 2021 after coffee spilt on her while she was at a drive-thru of a Dunkin’ in Sugar Hill, Georgia, her lawyers, Morgan & Morgan, said in a statement.

According to the lawyers, her lid was allegedly not attached properly to the coffee cup, causing the hot liquid to spill over her.

The lid allegedly came off as a Dunkin’ employee handed the woman her coffee, resulting in the liquid burning her skin.

She claimed she suffered second- and third-degree burns to her thighs, groin and abdomen, the lawyers said.

The woman allegedly required extensive skin grafts after the incident.

“America may run on Dunkin’, but our client had to re-learn how to walk due to the severity of her burns,” said Benjamin Welch, the woman’s attorney, in a statement.

“We alleged that the spill never would have happened had the drive-thru employee properly secured the lid on our client’s coffee cup.”

Mr Welch said her burns were “so severe” that she was in the burn unit at the hospital for weeks, with her medical bills totaling more than $200,000.

“America may run on Dunkin’, but our client had to re-learn how to walk due to the severity of her burns”

The attorney also said that his client, a retired federal government employee, still struggles with day-to-day activities, as walking still causes her pain and must apply creams to her burns “several times a day.”

This case echoes an infamous 1992 case between McDonald’s and a woman named Stella Liebeck, referred to as the “hot coffee lawsuit.”

Ms Liebeck was originally portrayed as someone who carelessly spilled coffee on herself when driving down a highway, but she was in fact, parked and sitting in the passenger seat when the incident occurred.

"One of the most famous lawsuits in American history centres around scalding coffee that caused severe burns,” John Morgan, the founder of Morgan & Morgan, said in a statement.

“Yet restaurants still have failed to learn their lesson to prioritise customers’ safety. We hope this settlement sends a message to all restaurants and franchisees: this isn’t complicated; train your employees properly and prioritise customer safety."

McDonald’s is now dealing with yet another burn lawsuit after another woman claims she was given a “scalding” cup of coffee, also with an alleged improperly fitted lid.

The Independent has contacted Dunkin’ for further comment.

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