Dear Public: No, the Fajita Lawsuit is Nothing like the Hot Coffee Lawsuit


Look, I love a good laugh at a ridiculous lawsuit as much as the next person, but fajitas AND "hot coffee" already returns 7 pages of search results on Google for the last 24 hours. The results include comments like this:

Too bad McD’s didn’t get the same consideration while they were sued by that old lady over hot coffee several years back. Yup, folks, both sizzling fajitas AND hot coffee are, well………………very hot.

And this:

Well, thankfully, the appellate court got this one right. Now, if they could “undo” the hot coffee/McDonald ruling. Sheez….

But the two cases don’t have anything in common apart from a hot food item. In fact, the McDonald’s case was so widely misunderstood there is even a documentary that explains what really happened:

The difference in a nutshell: (1) The coffee was much hotter than normal coffee (edit: maybe not, according to Wikipedia) — hot enough to cause _third-degree burns. The fact that the coffee was much hotter than you would expect was not remotely obvious from the coffee cup. (2) McDonald’s already knew people were getting burned by its coffee — it had plenty of notice that its coffee was dangerously hot and that people weren’t aware of it.

Here, you have an man who bent over a sizzling platter of meat, which was exactly as hot as you would expect, and which behaved exactly as you would expect a plate of sizzling meat to behave. And he got burned. Exactly as you would expect.

Similarly, his lawyer signed up a client with a ridiculous case, and he got burned, too. Exactly as you would expect.


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  • Elizabeth Kramer

    I do understand why, at first glance, people relate these two cases. After hearing about it for years, I decided to read more about the McD coffee lawsuit and watch the documentary. There was indeed much more to it than the headlines suggested.

  • David M. Nieporent

    McDonalds coffee was/is not hotter than “normal coffee,” and “normal coffee” is hot enough to cause third degree burns.

  • MDS

    Per the documentary (which is very good and should be required viewing for anyone that thinks they make good lawyer jokes), the woman in the McD’s case suffered significant health effects and still was only requesting an apology and that McD’s remedy the temperature issue going forward. They refused on both fronts so she went forward with the suit, won a lot, and had most of that taken away on appeal. The people that say the court should undo it must not (shockingly) have read the appeal. I believe she only got about $300,000 and died shortly after.