Friday, May 6, 2011

In a Jury Trial, Don’t Mention the McDonald’s Coffee Case

According to U.S. Law Week online, a defense attorney committed prejudicial error when he told a jury during closing argument in personal injury case that cases  like this are “how we get verdicts like in the McDonald's case with a cup of coffee The McDonald's coffee case is at Liebeck v. McDonald's Rests. P.T.S., Inc., No. CV-93-02419, 1995 WL 360309 (N.M. Dist. Ct. 1994). There, the plaintiff received a $2.9 million verdict after being scalded by a cup of coffee at her local McDonald's.

In the current  case, the Utah Supreme  Court stated that the  popular criticism  of the McDonald’s case was based on an erroneous understanding of the facts: “Given the uniquely iconic nature of [the McDonald's coffee] case, the passion it has produced in the media, and the general misunderstanding of the totality of its facts and reasoning among the public, we find it hard to imagine a scenario where it would be proper for a party's counsel to refer to it before a jury.” The court reversed and remanded  the case  for a new trial. Boyle v. Christensen, Utah, No. 20090822, 4/15/11.


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