It’s a story you’ve heard before: clumsy woman gets coffee from McDonald’s, spills it on herself, and sues for millions of dollars. The truth is a bit more complicated, and it shows how facts can become twisted over time.
In February, 1992, 79-year old Stella Liebeck and her grandson ordered coffee at McDonald’s. He parked in the lot so she could add sugar. She held the cup between her knees as she took off the lid, the coffee spilled. No biggie, right? Wrong. At temperatures between 180-190 degrees, the coffee caused burns so bad, Liebeck had to spend 8 days in the hospitals and undergo skin grafts. She lost 20% of her body weight, became scarred, and partially disabled for the next two years. When she contacted McDonald’s, she just wanted enough money to cover her hospital bills, so around $11,000. The fast-food chain countered with a measly $800, so Liebeck hired an attorney.