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McDonald’s: The coffee spill

1. What are the major issues in the Liebeck case and in the following incidents? Was the lawsuit “frivolous” as some people thought, or serious business? The major issues in this case include how hot the coffee should be, when to draw the line on making a case outrageous and how corporations are supposed to please customers without worrying about being sued. I believe that the lawsuit was frivolous because of the amount of money that was being asked for. It is common sense that when you order coffee or any other hot beverage that contents will be hot.

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I feel that it was the fault of Liebeck and although this is the case, McDonald’s should have paid the medical bills and settled out of court before it was blown out of proportion. 2. What are McDonald’s social (economic, legal, and ethical) responsibilities toward consumers in the Liebeck case and the other cases? What are consumers’ responsibilities when they buy a product such as hot coffee or hot hamburgers? How does a company give consumers what they want and yet protect them at the same time?

McDonald’s responsibilities are to be honest and fair economically, legally and ethically. Any business should keep the safety of their customers in mind and if an incident does occur, take responsibility. Consumers are responsible for situational awareness. They should pay more attention to what they are doing and if something does occur, consumers should act within reason and not try to get every cent from the company they can. It is impossible to keep everyone happy. 3. What are the arguments supporting McDonald’s position in the Liebeck case?

What are the arguments supporting Liebeck’s position? McDonald’s stated that Liebeck had only herself to blame for placing the cup between her legs. It was also stated that Liebeck failed to leap out of the seat allowing the coffee to penetrate her clothing and burning her. A burn expert for Liebeck stated that 170 degree coffee is capable of causing second degree burns within 3. 5 seconds. It was also argued that 700 complaints, equal to one in every 24 million cups sold, is trivial.

This statement was supposed to help McDonald’s but in turn helped Liebeck. 4. If you had been a juror in the Liebeck case, which position would you most likely have supported? Why? What if you had been a juror in the pickle burn case? If I were a juror in this case or the pickle burn case, I would have most likely supported McDonald’s. I feel that people should show a little more common sense when they order food. Most people want to get their food while it is still hot so why don’t people sue when food is too cold?

On the other hand, McDonald’s should make the warning on the cup larger and warn consumers as they order. 5. What are the similarities and differences between the coffee burn case and the pickle burn case? Does one represent a more serious threat to consumer harm? What should McDonald’s, and other fast food restaurants, do about hot food, such as hamburgers, when consumers are injured? Both the coffee case and the pickle burn case have one big thing in common. Both cases are against McDonald’s.

Both cases are based on the same complaint, too hot, but the burns resulted from different sources. As I stated above, fast food restaurants should make labels larger as well as give a verbal warning. Maybe they should make the entire wrapper or cup a warning. I cannot however agree to lower the temperature. I feel that if a customer wishes to have a cooler beverage, ask the server to pour a little cool water in it to cool it off. As far as food is concerned, consumers should have the common sense to wait. 6. What is your assessment of the “Stella Awards?

Is this making light of a serious problem? I think that the Stella awards are funny. They show us what people are willing to sue over and how outrageous the cases can be. The serious problem that I see is people are losing more and more common sense and businesses are paying for it. 7. What are the implications of these cases for future product-related lawsuits? Do we now live in a society where businesses are responsible for customers’ accidents or carelessness in using products? We live in a society that is growing older.

Does this fact place a special responsibility on merchants who sell products to senior citizens? I feel that we are living in a world where businesses are responsible for consumer carelessness and accidents. Senior citizens should be warned over and over if a product is hot but should not place a special responsibility on merchants that sell to senior citizens. As far as implications, for the court systems to remain fair, damages should and need to be given to all but it does not have to be millions and millions of dollars.

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