McDonald’s faces lawsuit over “scalding” coffee that left woman with “severe burns”

A new lawsuit may leave McDonald’s once again crying over spilled coffee.

A lawyer for Mable Childress has alleged in a complaint that “scalding” coffee from a McDonald’s drive-thru in San Francisco spilled onto Childress in June, leaving her with “severe burns and emotional distress.” According to the lawsuit, filed last Thursday in a California court, McDonald’s employees “improperly” secured the lid to Childress’ coffee cup, causing it to open unexpectedly and pour hot liquid onto her when she tried to drink from it.

“[The employees’] negligence was a substantial factor in causing [Childress] harm,” the lawyer said in the complaint.

The incident left Childress with scarring in her groin area, according to the suit.

Childress, 85, tried to report the incident to three employees at the restaurant, they “refused” to help her, the and later “ignored,” according to her claim. She eventually left the restaurant to seek medical attention for her injuries after being “ignored.”

“My restaurants have strict food safety protocols in place, including training crew to ensure lids on hot beverages are secure,” McDonald’s owner and operator Peter Ou said in a statement.

“We take every customer complaint seriously – and when Ms. Childress reported her experience to us later that day, our employees and management team spoke to her within a few minutes and offered assistance. We’re reviewing this new legal claim in detail,” he said.

Previous cases

This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has faced a lawsuit over the temperature of its beverages. In 1992, a court famously ordered the company to pay nearly $3 million to an elderly woman who suffered “severe burns” from a 49-cent cup of coffee that was heated to a temperature between 180 and 190 degrees.

A California woman also sued the fast-food restaurant in 2014, alleging its employees “improperly” secured the lid of the cup her hot she ordered, causing the scalding liquid to spill onto her and burn her. A settlement was reached in that case as well, according to, which reported at the time that details had not been disclosed.

In July, a Florida jury awarded $800,000 to a girl who alleged she suffered severe burns when a Chicken McNugget fell onto her leg in 2019.

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