Title: Florida Jury Awards $800,000 in Damages to Girl Burned by Hot Chicken McNugget at McDonald’s
In a recent court case, a South Florida jury has awarded $800,000 in damages to a little girl who suffered second-degree burns from a scalding Chicken McNugget at a local McDonald’s restaurant. The incident, which took place in 2019 when the girl, Olivia Caraballo, was just four years old, has now concluded with a verdict that falls significantly short of the original claim for $15 million in damages.
After less than two hours of deliberation, the jury reached a decision to grant Olivia $800,000 in compensation. The verdict form specifically allotted $400,000 for the past four years of damages and another $400,000 for future damages, highlighting the long-term impact of the incident on the young girl’s life.
Expressing satisfaction with the outcome, Olivia’s mother, Philana Holmes, stated that she had no expectations going into the trial. She revealed that Olivia, now eight years old, refers to the scar on her thigh as her “nugget,” emphasizing her fixation on having it removed.
McDonald’s attorneys presented their defense, arguing that Olivia’s discomfort ended when her wound healed after three weeks. They also claimed that the girl’s mother, Philana Holmes, was the one who had a problem with the scar, not Olivia. The defense contended that $156,000 would suffice as sufficient damages, both for the past and future.
During the trial held in May, both sides agreed that the hot chicken nugget had caused the burns. However, the family’s lawyers argued that the temperature was over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, while McDonald’s defense claimed it was no more than 160 degrees Fahrenheit. In court, photos of the burn and disturbing sound clips of Olivia’s screams were presented as evidence.
The case draws comparisons to the infamous McDonald’s coffee lawsuit in the 1990s, where a woman was scalded by hot coffee from the restaurant and awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages. In that case, Stella Liebeck initially requested $20,000 to cover hospital expenses but was denied by McDonald’s, leading to the trial. The judge later reduced the award to $480,000, citing the fast-food giant’s “willful, wanton, reckless” and “callous” behavior.
This recent case serves as a reminder that food-related accidents can have serious consequences. It underscores the responsibility of restaurants to ensure their products are served at safe temperatures and to provide adequate warnings to customers. While the jury’s verdict falls significantly short of the initial claim, it acknowledges the significant impact on Olivia’s life and highlights the need for corporations to prioritize customer safety.
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