It is reported that the hot McNugget left a scar on the girl’s leg.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A jury in South Florida has awarded $800,000 in damages to a little girl who suffered second-degree burns when a hot Chicken McNugget fell on her leg as her mother pulled away from the driveway of a McDonald’s restaurant.
Lawyers for the family of Olivia Caraballo, who was 4 when she was burned in 2019, are seeking $15 million in damages. The jury returned their verdict after a two-hour deliberation on Wednesday, the South Florida SunSentinel reports.
The jury’s verdict form awarded $400,000 in damages over the last four years and another $400,000 for the future from McDonald’s USA and its franchise operator Upchurch Foods. In May, a separate jury decided that the company and the franchise owner were responsible for an injury that occurred outside a McDonald’s in Tamarack, near Fort Lauderdale.
“I’m actually just happy that they listened to Olivia’s voice and the jury was able to make a fair decision,” Olivia’s mother, Philana Holmes, told reporters outside the courtroom. “I’m happy with it. To be honest, I didn’t have any expectations, so that’s more than fair for me.”
On Tuesday, she revealed that Olivia, now 8, refers to the scar on her inner thigh as her “nugget” and is fixated on getting it removed, the newspaper reported.
McDonald’s lawyers argued that the child’s discomfort ended when the wound healed, which they said took about three weeks. They argued that the girl’s mother had a problem with the scar and told the jury that the $156,000 should cover damages, both past and future.
“She still goes to McDonald’s, she still asks for McDonald’s, she still travels with her mom to buy chicken nuggets,” lawyer Jennifer Miller said in her closing remarks on Wednesday. “She is not worried about the injury. It’s all mom.”
Lawyers declined to comment after the verdict.
Holmes testified that she bought Happy Meals for her son and daughter, who were in the back seat, and was leaving when the nugget fell on the child’s leg. She said that the girl was screaming in pain, and when she stopped in the parking lot, she realized that the nugget was stuck between Oliva’s thigh and the seat belt.
The mother stated that McDonald’s never warned her that the food might be unusually hot. The company said it complies with food safety regulations that require McNuggets to be hot enough to avoid salmonella poisoning and that what happens to food after it leaves the drive-through window is out of their control.
Although both sides agreed during their trial in May that a nugget caused the burns, the family’s lawyers argued that the temperature was over 200 degrees, while the defense said it did not exceed 160 degrees.
Photographs of the burn taken by the mother and audio recordings of the children’s screams were played in court.
The case may evoke memories of the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit in the 1990s, which became something of an urban legend about seemingly frivolous lawsuits, though the jury and judge thought it was anything but.
A New Mexico jury has awarded 81-year-old Stella Liebeck a $2.7 million fine after she burned herself in 1992 when hot coffee from McDonald’s spilled on her knees, burning her legs, groin and buttocks, as she tried to hold on to a cup with her feet, tearing off the lid to add cream near a diner.
She suffered third-degree burns and spent more than a week in the hospital.
She first asked McDonald’s for $20,000 for hospital expenses, but the company sued. The judge later reduced the $2.7 million award to $480,000, which he said was consistent with McDonald’s’ “deliberate, senseless, reckless” and “calle” behavior.