Florida jury finds McDonald’s partially liable after four-year-old girl suffered second-degree burns from piping hot chicken nugget for failing to provide franchise with proper instructions
- The jury found both the franchisee and McDonald’s had failed to produce instructions which would have prevented the child’s injury
- The girl’s parents sued the fast food giant and the franchisee for $15,000 in 2019 after she suffered severe burns which left her ‘disfigured and scarred’
- WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT BELOW
A McDonald’s franchisee has been found negligent after a piping hot Chicken McNugget burned a four-year-old girl’s thigh, leaving her ‘disfigured and scarred.’
A Florida jury found both the franchisee and McDonald’s had failed to produce instructions for the food which would have prevented the girl’s injury.
Parents Philana Holmes and Humberto Caraballo Estevez sued the fast food giant and franchisee UpChurch Foods in 2019 for $15,000, on the grounds the restaurant served a chicken nugget that was ‘defective, harmful and unfit for human handling.’
The jury has not yet decided how much McDonald’s and UpChurch Foods will be required to pay the family.
The complaint said Holmes heard her then four-year-old daughter Olivia screaming in the back of the car as she left a Broward County McDonald’s drive-thru after buying her a Happy Meal.
When she pulled over, she found a hot chicken nugget lodged between her daughter’s thigh and a seatbelt, which had remained in contact with her skin for around two minutes and caused second-degree burns.
Philana Holmes said her daughter, who was four at the time, suffered second-degree burns after a chicken nugget fell on her leg
Holmes heard her then four-year-old daughter Olivia screaming in the back of the car as she left a Broward County McDonald’s drive-thru
The jury returned a split verdict on Thursday.
While it found there was negligence on the part of UpChurch Foods, it did not find there was negligence on the part of McDonald’s which was a legal cause of loss, injury or harm to the girl.
Fischer Redavid PLLC, the law firm representing the parents, called the jury decision a ‘tremendous victory for a deserving family.’
‘They stayed patient and fought hard with us for multiple years against a wealthy corporation: a jury unanimously ruled in favor of our client,’ the firm said in a statement on Facebook.
It added that the verdict was a ‘critical first step’ for the family, who ‘for years, have had to deal with the ramifications of something that was – now unquestionably – foreseeable, avoidable, and should never have happened.’
It described Olivia as an ‘adorable, innocent child who was severely burned through no fault of her own.’
Fischer Redavid PLLC, the law firm representing the parents, called the jury decision a ‘tremendous victory for a deserving family’
The franchisee previously told the court that it has to serve hot nuggets in order to adhere to food safety standards
Following the verdict, UpChurch Foods said in a statement it was ‘disappointed’ in the verdict and that it had followed protocols when serving the food.
‘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. 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,’ the statement read.
‘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.
‘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.’
The franchisee had previously denied the allegations in court filings saying they bear ‘no responsibility for any injuries or damages’ that the child ‘may have sustained.’
In a statement on Thursday, McDonald’s said they disagree with the verdict.
‘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,’ the statement read.
‘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.’
The family said the piping hot Chicken McNugget burned Olivia’s thigh, leaving her ‘disfigured and scarred’
Holmes said she heard her daughter screaming in the back seat of the car after buying her a Happy Meal from a McDonald’s in Tamarac, Broward County
Jordan Redavid, who is representing the burned child’s family, brought with him to court the iconic Happy Meal box and presented it to the judge
According to the lawsuit, on August 21, 2019, Holmes went to the McDonald’s drive-thru in Tamarac and ordered, among other things, a six-piece Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal for her daughter.
‘The Chicken McNuggets inside of that Happy meal were unreasonably and dangerously hot (in terms of temperature) and caused Olivia Holmes’s skin and flesh around her thighs to burn,’ reads the lawsuit.
On Tuesday, attorney Jordan Redavid, who is representing the family, brought the iconic Happy Meal box, with its two golden arches for handles, to court to present to the judge.
‘The reasonable, foreseeable, intended use is for a child to handle this box. The law implies a promise from a corporation to, in this case, a child,’ he said.
‘And if its preventable, its warnable, you should warn someone about it, and if you don’t do that then you’re liable.’
His position was challenged by Scott Yount, an attorney representing McDonald’s.
‘Ms Holmes purchased 32 chicken McNuggets that day. the evidence will show that 31 of them, there was no problem with,’ he said in response.
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