Major Issues in the Stella Liebeck’s Case and in the Successive Incidents
The major issue in the cases presented against McDonald’s is that customers suffered bodily and psychological harm from consuming their foodstuffs. For instance, in Stella Liebeck’s case she accuses McDonald’s of “gross negligence”, and selling “unreasonably dangerous” coffee that was “defectively manufactured”. Stella stayed in hospital for eight days and spent three weeks recuperating after suffering third-degree burns from a coffee cup bought from McDonald’s. Through her lawyer, Reed Morgan, Stella wanted to be compensated $ 100,000 for medical expenses and McDonald’s fined triple that amount in punitive damages. As the case went on trial, the plaintiff’s evidence proved that McDonald’s did not take customer safety into consideration. In another case, Veronica Martins accused McDonald’s of negligence after she suffered “permanent scars” from a pickle that landed on her chin.
Was the Lawsuit Frivolous?
Contrary to what many people believed, Liebeck’s case was not frivolous Even after receiving over 700 burn complaints, McDonald’s did not lower its coffee heat or do anything to prevent the occurrence of similar events. As the case went on trial, the facts presented against the company were overwhelming; the jury was convinced that McDonald’s did not take care of its consumers. Many people were interested in the outcome of the case because McDonald’s is a huge corporation, and the way the company handled the case had many unforeseen ramifications.
McDonald's Social (economic, legal, and ethical) Responsibilities towards Consumers in the Liebeck Case and Other Cases
McDonald’s had a duty to ensure that the products it serves are safe. The company also had a duty to warn its customers of the hot contents in the beverages it served. For the purposes of goodwill, McDonald’s should have taken care of Stella Liebeck’s medical bills. Legally, McDonald’s was also fully answerable for the suffering caused to Liebeck. McDonald’s also owed its customers an apology over any incident arising from the use of their products. Above all, McDonald’s should have considered the economic and ethical implications of each case, and balanced them against each other to make an informed decision. The management ought to have made sure that the action taken is profitable, complies with the law and represents the best ethical behavior.
Consumer’s Responsibilities When They Buy Products
Consumers also share liability with the company. Consumers should read any warnings and usage instructions printed on the product. When purchasing a hot beverage like coffee, consumers should also be aware of its temperature and how to use it safely.
How Companies Give Consumers What They Want and Protect Them at the Same Time
The key thing is to provide quality goods and services that give consumers value for their money. Also, any company has to ensure that its products are safe to the users and should be liable for injuries and damages caused by their products if the customer had followed their instructions carefully. Policies and procedures should factor consumer safety. It is also important for the company to educate its consumers on how to use the product.
Arguments Supporting McDonald's Position in the Liebeck Case
McDonald’s acknowledged that their coffee is hot, but that is how the consumers wanted it. The National Coffee Association of America, through its spokesperson, confirmed that McDonald’s adhered to its industry standards. Other coffee experts also argued that coffee should be served at high temperatures because that is when aromatics are released. The fact that Liebeck attempted to open a cup of hot coffee between her knees meant that she was liable for what happened.
Arguments Supporting Liebeck Position
Before Liebeck’s case, McDonald’s had received over 700 burn complaints from several customers. However, the company did nothing about the matter. One of the company executives also admitted that the company was not planning to review its policies and procedures claiming that there were more serious dangers in their restaurants. This statement convinced the jurors that the company did not care about its consumers. Due to the McDonald’s negligence, Stella Liebeck had suffered third-degree burns and hospitalized for eight days.
My Position as a Juror in the Liebeck Case
I would support Liebeck and ask McDonald’s to compensate her. Stella Liebeck suffered third-degree burns primarily due to the coffee she had bought at McDonald’s. McDonald’s has to take responsibility and compensate her medical expenses, her pain and suffering. McDonald’s would also have to pay punitive damages because evidence presented before the jury shows that they had done nothing to safeguard the safety of consumers despite receiving numerous complaints from customers.
My Position as a Juror in the Pickle Burn Case
I would not support any monetary compensation against the company. Although Veronica Martins claims to have been permanently scarred, there is no evidence presented to show that she was hospitalized. The case also lacks material evidence to show pain and suffering.
The Similarities and Differences between the Coffee Burn Cases and the Pickle Burn Case
In both cases, the plaintiffs complained of permanent body harm and undergoing psychological pain due to foods served by McDonald’s. However, in Liebeck’s case, she had suffered third-degree burns and hospitalized for several days, while in Martin’s case, she had suffered second-degree burns but there was no evidence to show that she had been hospitalized.
The Case That Represents a More Serious Threat to Consumer Harm
The coffee burn case presents a more serious harm to the consumer because a hot liquid can spread over a large area within a short period hence causing a lot of harm.
What McDonalds and Other Fast Food Restaurants Should Do about Hot Foods Such AS Hamburgers When Consumers are Injured
After confirming presence of injury due to the foods served, the companies should proceed to compensate the consumer injured. It is important to cover the medical expenses for the pain and suffering caused. It is also necessary to settle any matters arising out of court.
Assessment of the Stella Awards
There is nothing sinister with the Stella Awards; it creates a light moment, and that’s what comedy is all about. The Stella Awards just looks at the cases that many people would consider bizarre, but it is not an attempt to ridicule to course of action taken.
The Implications of These Cases for Future Product Related Lawsuits
Consumers are aware of their rights, and every company must take measures that protect its customers. Companies should do as much as possible to avoid a repeat of the coffee burn case. When similar cases come up, the company should consider whether the action they intend to take abides by the law, and if it is ethical.
Do We Live in a Society Where Businesses are Responsible for Customers' Accidents or Carelessness in Using Products?
What happened with McDonald’s does not mean that we live in a society where businesses are not responsible for customer’s accidents. Some of the cases do not appear in the public limelight because companies may prefer out-of-court settlement.
Is There a Special Responsibility on Merchants who Sell Products to Senior Citizens
It is important for companies selling their products to senior citizens to consider their safety. Modifications may be necessary to make use of the product easy to the consumer. For hot beverages, consumers can be provided with a range of temperatures to choose from. The elderly consumers should also be informed of the dangers of the foodstuffs they purchase.
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