TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Random Liebeck Appearance

This story -- about a man suing McDonald's for damages from a severe allergic reaction to cheese, when the restaurant served him a burger with cheese after his alleged repeated requests for one without cheese -- is interesting enough by itself.  But why add this to the end?

The fast-food giant has been sued before.

In one notorious instance in 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from Albuquerque, N.M., sued McDonald's after she suffered third-degree burns from spilling a hot cup of coffee in her lap.

A jury later awarded Liebeck $2.9 million.

Do reporters have a macro to add in that text every time there's McDonald's or coffee or maybe people named Stella in a story?  The allegations here, if true, seem to fit reasonably well in a definition of negligence (whether or not Liebeck's does), though $10 million seems like an enthusiastic punitives demand.  But to just add that on to the end seems, well, random.


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I wouldn't call it "random." Over at Volokh, David Bernstein appears to be hawking a basically Liebeckian view of the quarter-pounder case. It's a testament to the public relations acumen of the tort-repeal crowd that all tort claims involving food (or food-like material, in this instance) are now reflexively assimilated, by the press, to the Liebeckian model.

Posted by: Peter Nordberg | Aug 11, 2007 9:42:02 AM

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