A Dunkin' franchisee has settled a lawsuit with an elderly woman for $3 million after she claimed one of its piping-hot cups of coffee gave her severe, life-changing burns.
The unnamed woman's attorney said their client was in an Atlanta-area location's drive-thru in February 2021 when she was handed a cup of joe with an unsecured lid. This caused it to spill over onto her lap, leaving second and third-degree burns on her thighs, groin and abdomen, the lawyers said.
The injury required the then 70-year-old woman to get "extensive" skin grafts and spend weeks in a hospital burn unit, leading to $200,000 in medical bills, Morgan & Morgan attorney Benjamin Welch said.
The former federal government employee now has had to "entirely alter the way she lives her life," Welch said in a statement.
"America may run on Dunkin, but our client had to re-learn how to walk due to the severity of her burns," Welch said. "Walking still causes her pain, she can't go out in the sun, and she must apply creams and ointments to her burns several times a day."
The lawsuit claims the spill never would've happened if the Dunkin' employee had properly secured the coffee cup lid. Golden Donuts, LLC, the franchisee that operates the Sugar Hill location involved, agreed to compensate the woman $3 million for the accident.
The case bears resemblance to the 1992 McDonald's drive-thru case involving a 79-year-old woman who sued after a coffee spilled in her lap, causing her burns that required skin grafts. She offered to settle the suit for the cost of her medical expenses and lost income, which was $20,000, but McDonald's never offered her more than $800. When all was said and done, she reportedly walked away with hundreds of thousands.
Recently, another woman sued McDonald's for serving up a "scalding" coffee with an improperly attached lid, resulting in severe burns on a customer's body.
These cases, particularly the former, were also mentioned by the recent lawsuit's attorneys.
"One of the most famous lawsuits in American history centers around scalding coffee that caused severe burns. Yet restaurants still have failed to learn their lesson to prioritize customers' safety," John Morgan, founder of Morgan & Morgan, said in a statement obtained by Fox 5. "We hope this settlement sends a message to all restaurants and franchisees: This isn't complicated; train your employees properly and prioritize customer safety."
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