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A California woman's claim that she was severely burned by spilled McDonald's coffee was revealed to be a scam when investigators discovered that photographs of the woman's alleged injuries had been downloaded off the internet.
38-year-old Selena Edwards of Victorville, California had claimed that an unsecured lid on a cup of coffee she ordered in a McDonald's drive-through had caused serious burns to her hand, reports the Los Angeles Times. The woman submitted photos and medical documents back up her injury claims.
After an investigation, however, state insurance officials determined that both Edwards' documentation and her injury were bogus.
Photos Pulled off Hospital Website
In a press release, the California Department Insurance reports that detectives investigating Edwards' claim discovered that photos she had submitted of her injuries were actually taken from a hospital website. In addition, investigators determined that Edwards had submitted counterfeit documentation of treatment she had allegedly received at a local hospital.
Instead of the $10,000 she was reportedly seeking for her injury, Edwards is now facing 21 felony counts of insurance fraud and worker's compensation fraud. In California, felony insurance fraud can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 or double the value of the defrauded amount, whichever is greater.
Previous McDonald's Coffee Cases
Although there have been numerous cases in which customers have claimed to have been injured by hot McDonald's coffee, arguably the most well-known is the case of Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants.
In that case, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck filed suit against McDonald's after a cup of McDonald's coffee, served at a temperature of between 180 and 190 degrees, spilled in her lap. The coffee caused third-degree burns to her groin, thigh, genitalia, and buttocks.
Liebeck's family originally asked McDonald's to cover the woman's out-of-pocket expenses of $2,000 plus lost wages for her daughter, but the company offered only $800. Liebeck was ultimately awarded $2.7 million by a jury at trial, but that amount was reduced to $640,000 by the judge.