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Another McDonald's Hot Coffee Lawsuit Filed in L.A.

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on January 10, 2014 8:57 AM

A new McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles, two decades after the infamous "McDonald's coffee" case that received worldwide attention.

In the latest case, a woman named Paulette Carr claims she was injured by hot McDonald's coffee in January 2012 at a Southern California drive-thru, reports the Los Angeles Times.

How does Carr's case against McDonald's coffee compare to its infamous predecessor?

Alleged Negligence: Loose Coffee Lid

The thrust of Carr's suit is that McDonald's caused her hot coffee injuries by "negligently, carelessly and improperly" placing the plastic lid on Carr's coffee cup, causing it to spill onto her, reports the Times.

Like most suits against large chains, Carr is holding McDonald's as an employer responsible for the alleged negligence of the employee who allegedly neglected her coffee cup lip.

A plaintiff like Carr can potentially recover a wide array of damages depending on the extent of her injuries from the hot coffee, but Carr's California civil suit does not describe the severity of her injuries, according to the Times.

It's uncertain how Carr's suit will play out, but she's already shadowed by the specter of the "original" McDonald's coffee case.

Comparisons to Earlier McDonald's Coffee Case

Like many things which move from fact and history into American folk legend, the 1994 "hot coffee" verdict was captured in the lines of a Toby Keith ditty, "American Ride":

"Plasma gettin bigger, Jesus gettin smaller.
Spill a cup of coffee, make a million dollars."

The general feeling about the jury's $2.9 million award for Stella Liebeck, the woman who had hot McDonald's coffee spilled on her in 1992, was outrage -- both at the "frivolous" nature of the woman's suit and that our civil court system would allow such a seemingly large award.

In reality, a judge reduced Liebeck's award to less than $500,000; McDonald's and Liebeck later entered into a confidential settlement agreement.

What Keith and many Americans also failed to realize was how serious Liebeck's injuries were. As chronicled in the 2011 documentary "Hot Coffee," Liebeck received serious third-degree burns to her genitals, thighs, and groin areas, and required skin grafts as a result.

And Liebeck's coffee itself was more than "hot" -- it was at least 185 degrees Fahrenheit, in line with McDonald's practices at the time.

If you or someone you know has a "beef" with McDonald's (or any other establishment) over hot coffee, consider contacting an experienced personal injury attorney near you.

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