Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants
Full case name Stella Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants, P.T.S., Inc. and McDonald's International, Inc. Decided August 18, 1994 Citation(s) 1994 Extra LEXIS 23 (Bernalillo County, N.M. Dist. Ct. 1994), 1995 WL 360309 (Bernalillo County, N.M. Dist. Ct. 1994), Court membership Judge(s) sitting Robert H. Scott
Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants,  also known as the McDonald's coffee case and the hot coffee lawsuit, …show more content…
Liebeck was in the passenger's seat of her grandson's 1989 Ford Probe, which did not have cup holders, and her grandson Chris parked the car so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. Liebeck placed the coffee cup between her knees and pulled the far side of the lid toward her to remove it. In the process, she spilled the entire cup of coffee on her lap.  Liebeck was wearing cotton sweatpants; they absorbed the coffee and held it against her skin, scalding her thighs, buttocks, and groin. …show more content…
 She remained in the hospital for eight days while she underwent skin grafting. During this period, Liebeck lost 20 pounds (9 kg, nearly 20% of her body weight), reducing her to 83 pounds (38 kg). Liebeck suffered permanent disfigurement after the incident and was partially disabled for up to two years afterwards. 
Liebeck sought to settle with McDonald's for $20,000 to cover her actual and anticipated expenses. Her past medical expenses were $10,500; her anticipated future medical expenses were approximately $2,500; and her loss of income was approximately $5,000 for a total of approximately $18,000. 
Instead, the company offered only $800. When McDonald's refused to raise its offer, Liebeck retained Texas attorney Reed Morgan. Morgan filed suit in New Mexico District Court accusing McDonald's of "gross negligence" for selling coffee that was "unreasonably dangerous" and "defectively manufactured". Previously, New Mexico had never found for a Plaintiff in a product liability suit. Two scheduled mediations were not attended by McDonald's.  McDonald's refused Morgan's offer to settle for $90,000. Morgan offered to settle for $300,000, and a mediator suggested $225,000 just before trial, but McDonald's refused these final pre-trial attempts to settle.