A jury has found McDonald's and a franchisee liable after Florida parents say their 4-year-old sustained second-degree burns from a 'dangerously hot' chicken nugget
A jury has found McDonald's and a franchisee liable after a Florida couple alleged their child was burned by "dangerously hot" chicken nuggets.
The couple says their four-year-old daughter had second-degree burns after the nugget got stuck between her thigh and seat belt.
The family is seeking $15,000 in damages; a second trial will determine how much they receive.
McDonald's has been found liable after a couple in Florida say their four-year-old daughter was burned by a hot chicken nugget.
A jury returned a split verdict, finding that McDonald's and franchisee Upchurch Foods were liable for failing to provide instructions for the safe handling of hot food. The jury found that Upchurch Foods, but not McDonald's, was negligent.
"This is a critical first step for Olivia and her parents, who, for years, have had to deal with the ramifications of something that was—now unquestionably—foreseeable, avoidable, and should never have happened," the family's lawyer Jordan Redavid of Fischer Redavid told Insider.
Philana Holmes and Humberto Caraballo Estevez, of Broward County, Florida, are seeking $15,000 in damages. A second jury will determine how much they are to receive.
"We take every complaint seriously and certainly those that involve the safety of our food and the experiences of our customers. Together with our franchisees, for nearly 70 years, we have consistently served customers safe, high-quality food using strict policies and procedures," McDonald's told Miami new station Local 10 in a statement. "This was an unfortunate incident, but we respectfully disagree with the verdict. Our customers should continue to rely on McDonald's to follow policies and procedures for serving Chicken McNuggets safely."
"Our sympathies go out to this family for what occurred in this unfortunate incident, as we hold customer safety as one of our highest priorities," the franchise's operator Brent Upchurch told Local 10. "That's why our restaurant follows strict rules in accordance with food safety best practices when it comes to cooking and serving our menu items, including Chicken McNuggets."
"We are deeply disappointed with today's verdict because the facts show that our restaurant in Tamarac, Florida did indeed follow those protocols when cooking and serving this Happy Meal," Upchurch added. "Our community here in South Florida should remain confident that we will continue serving safe and high-quality meals, just as we've done for more than 50 years at Upchurch Management restaurants."
In court documents, Holmes said the injury happened after she bought her four-year-old daughter a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal at a Tamarac McDonald's drive-thru in 2019.
Holmes described giving her daughter the meal and driving away before hearing the child let out "a full-blown scream" in the back of the car. The four-year-old had been eating a Chicken McNugget when it fell and got wedged between her thigh and seat belt for nearly two minutes, the lawsuit said.
The burns left the girl "disfigured and scarred," the lawsuit said.
"The Chicken McNuggets inside of that Happy Meal were unreasonably and dangerously hot and caused [the victim's] skin and flesh around her thighs to burn," the lawsuit claimed, according to the Sun Sentinel.
The four-year-old was not named in the court documents and will not be testifying.
Caraballo Estevez told the court on Tuesday that his daughter still has the scar on her leg, DailyMail.com reported. Even though the scar doesn't bother her anymore, she does sometimes refer to it as "her chicken nugget," he added.
McDonald's and Upchurch did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.
McDonald's has been hit with multiple lawsuits over the years, including one famous case in 1994, where the fast food giant had to pay a woman in New Mexico $3 million after a spilled cup of coffee left her with third-degree burns on her thighs.
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