Woman awarded US$3 million in lawsuit against Dunkin' Donuts after suffering 'severe' coffee burns

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An elderly Atlanta woman who suffered third-degree burns after scalding coffee fell on her lap in a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru reached a US$3 million settlement with the American restaurant chain.

Morgan & Morgan, the law firm representing the 70-year-old woman, said the lid was allegedly not secured on the coffee cup after an employee handed her the beverage, causing burns on her thighs, groin and abdomen. The unnamed woman required “extensive” skin grafts, according to a statement.

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“America may run on Dunkin’, but our client had to re-learn how to walk due to the severity of her burns,” said the woman’s attorney Benjamin Welch in a statement, USA Today reported.

Her attorney said his client’s burns were “so severe” that she spent a considerable amount of time in a hospital’s burn unit, entirely changing her life. Her medical bills amounted to over US$200,000.

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“We alleged that the spill never would have happened had the drive-thru employee properly secured the lid on our client’s coffee cup,” Welch added.

Court records show that a lawsuit was filed against Golden Donuts, LLC, the Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee, on April 8, 2022 in the State Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia.

Golden Donuts ultimately agreed to an out of court settlement of US$3 million with the plaintiff.

“We hope this settlement sends a message to all restaurants and franchisees: this isn’t complicated; train your employees properly and prioritize customer safety,” Morgan & Morgan told USA Today.

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In Vancouver, a similar incident occurred when a McDonald’s customer sued the restaurant for the same accident.

Sylvia Nedila suffered body and hand burns after the lid came off of a hot coffee she bought at a drive-thru and is suing McDonald’s for negligence.

She is seeking unspecified damages for pain and suffering and medical expenses after being left with scars, anxiety and depression after the Oct. 26, 2021, incident, according to a notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court.

Nedila alleged that the accident was caused by negligence because the employee didn’t ensure the lid was secure and the restaurant failed to adequately train employees in the safe handling of hot liquids.

The claim also alleges the restaurant failed to provide sufficient warning of the danger of the hot liquid or to warn Nedila and others of the “prevailing dangerous conditions.”

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