Warranty is the guarantee the manufacturer gives the buyer that their product will perform as the manufacturer has intended for it to perform. In terms of warranties, you need to familiarize yourself with the following three warranties:
· In Express Warranties, the manufacturer makes certain guarantees to the buyer about their product.
· In Implied Warranty of Merchantability, the law imposes the warranty on the product where it assumes that the product meets the general quality standards for a specific product.
· In Implied Warranty of Fitness, the law imposes the warranty where it implies that the product meets the buyer's proper usage requirements.
If a product you bought falls in any of these category, you need to consult with a seasoned personal injury attorney in Kentucky to help you present your case in a manner that would result in a favorable outcome. To help you better understand breach of warranty, refer to the McDonald's coffee case in Kentucky.
Kentucky's McDonald's Coffee Case
Do you remember the sensational news of an elderly woman who won around $3 million dollars because she sustained a burn when she spilled the coffee at drive thru of the fast food restaurant? Most probably, you have heard of the McDonald's coffee case. When you sustain an injury due to spilled coffee, you can file a products liability case.
However, the elderly woman never received the $3 million dollars. Even though the jury awarded her to receive this large sum, the 79-year-old woman left with a little less than that, as the judge overruled the jury's verdict and reduced the awarded amount. To this day, the McDonald's coffee case stands as a fitting example of the role of the products liability law and on how it protects buyers. By delving deep into this case, you will have a better idea on the thought process of the jury.
The McDonald's Coffee Case
The McDonald's coffee case made headlines when an elderly woman, aged 79, went to the drive thru of the restaurant with her son and ordered a cup of hot, steaming coffee. She was the passenger in the car and was trying to remove the lid of the coffee cup. She placed the coffee cup between her legs and when she used force to remove it, the coffee spilled.
She sought the help of a personal injury attorney in Kentucky to lodge a case against the fast food chain. The evidence showed at the trial stated that the temperature of the coffee at the time of serving was between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit. When the coffee spilled on the elderly lady, the temperature of the coffee was between 165 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
The elderly lady's personal injury attorney presented additional evidence to back up their breach of warranty of claim, stating the coffee brewed at home is between 135 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Her attorney further stated at the court case that she suffered from third degree burns on her buttocks and inner thighs from the spilled, hot coffee between six to seven seconds.
The Amount She Claimed
The elderly lady claimed that she accumulated $10,000 in medical expenses, which includes the expenses related with skin grafting and debridement. She also claimed that she suffered from permanent scarring due to the coffee.
The Questions the Jury Asked to Reach a Decision
The products liability law requires the jury to ask certain questions such as:
· Did the fast food restaurant know the coffee was extremely hot?
· Did the fast food restaurant know that the coffee they serve can cause people to sustain severe burns in the event they spill it on themselves?
· If the fast food restaurant knew that the coffee could cause severe burns if spilled, why did they continue to serve the extremely hot coffee to their customers?
· Can customers drink coffee at such hot temperatures?
· Do all fast food restaurants serve their coffee at the same temperatures as McDonalds?
· Doesn't the elderly woman who received the burn bear any responsibility for the incident?
The Jury's Decision
In the McDonald's coffee case, the jury decided that the fast food restaurant has breached two types of warranties, Implied Warranty of Merchantability and Implied Warranty of Fitness, and declared the coffee as a defective product.
Additionally, the jury placed some of the responsibility for the incident of spilled hot coffee on the elderly woman, stating that she was at 20% at fault for the incident whereas the fast food restaurant was at 80% at fault for it. She received $200,000 in compensatory damages to compensate her for past and future pain, mental anguish, loss of income, medical expenses, and more.
She also received an additional $2,700,000 in punitive damages. The jury reduced the amount rewarded to her for compensatory damages, as she was partly at fault for the incident, and the judge further reduced the amount for punitive damages to $480,000. Before the case could be appealed, her personal injury attorney and the fast food restaurant's attorney negotiated an undisclosed amount out of court.
Future Verdict of Hot Coffee
Most courts do not view a cup of coffee as a defective product just because the coffee was too hot. Instead, they require the injured party to prove that the temperature of the coffee served to them did not meet the accepted industry standards or that the coffee was hotter than they expected it to be. Most courts also feel that people know the danger of hot coffee and should take precaution when the restaurant serves it to them by handling it with care.
If you think you have suffered an injury due to a defective product, you should consult with a personal injury attorney. You can contact Christopher Jackson Law by giving us a call at 859-261-1111 to schedule a free consultation.