McDonald’s told to pay Florida family $800K after chicken nugget caused second-degree burns to four-year-old girl at drive-thru

A Florida court awarded a mother $800,000 from McDonald’s after her daughter received second-degree burns from a piping hot McNugget that fell on her lap in 2019.

The jury reached the verdict after less than two hours of deliberation Wednesday afternoon. They allotted $400,000 in damages for the past four years, and $400,000 for the future.

The family’s attorney had asked for an award of $15million.

The mother of the child, Philana Holmes, said she was happy that the court had been receptive to her daughter’s story, adding she felt the jury’s award was fair.

‘I’m happy with that. I honestly had no expectations, so this is more than fair for me,’ she told reporters outside the courtroom. 

An image of Philana Holmes being handed the Happy Meals moments before her daughter would be burned

An image of Philana Holmes being handed the Happy Meals moments before her daughter would be burned

An image of Philana Holmes being handed the Happy Meals moments before her daughter would be burned

In court on Wednesday, Holmes hugs her attorney, Keyla  Smith, following the jury's decision to award the family $800,000

In court on Wednesday, Holmes hugs her attorney, Keyla  Smith, following the jury's decision to award the family $800,000

In court on Wednesday, Holmes hugs her attorney, Keyla  Smith, following the jury’s decision to award the family $800,000

Holmes testified her daughter Olivia, now eight years old, calls the scar on her inner thigh her ‘nugget’ and hopes to get it removed.

John Fischer, an attorney for the family, argued Olivia Caraballo deserved $5million in damages for the last four years, and an additional $10million to cover the next 74 years – the duration of her estimated life.

‘When we walk out of those doors, that’s it. We don’t get to come back and say let’s check on Olivia in five years, let’s check on her in 10 years… you have to do it now or you can never do it again,’ he said during closing arguments.

Attorney’s for the large fast-food chain argued Olivia’s pain and discomfort ended when her wound healed, which they argued took three weeks. They said $156,000 would be sufficient to cover past and future costs related to the incident.

‘She’s still going to McDonalds, she still asks to go to McDonald’s, she’s still driving through the drive-through with her mom, getting chicken nuggets. She’s not bothered by the injury. This is all the mom,’ said defense attorney Jennifer Miller.

In May, a different jury determined McDonald’s and Upchurch – the franchisee of the drive-thru where the offending nugget was purchased – were to blame for Olivia’s burn.

Holmes testified she purchased Happy Meals for her daughter and son, and passed the food to them in the back seat before driving away. She said she was not warned that her food might be unusually hot.

When Olivia began screaming in pain, Holmes pulled into a parking lot, where she saw the burn. She snapped some pictures off it, which were shown in court, in addition to sound clips of Olivia’s screams.

The pictures and clips were shown to the May jury and later to the second jury.

Holmes and her daughter Olivia listen to the final witness in their case at the Broward County Courthouse last month. A separate jury determined weeks ago that McDonald's and the franchise owner of the drive thru could be held responsible for the burn

Holmes and her daughter Olivia listen to the final witness in their case at the Broward County Courthouse last month. A separate jury determined weeks ago that McDonald's and the franchise owner of the drive thru could be held responsible for the burn

Holmes and her daughter Olivia listen to the final witness in their case at the Broward County Courthouse last month. A separate jury determined weeks ago that McDonald’s and the franchise owner of the drive thru could be held responsible for the burn

Pictures of the second-degree burn Olivia received were shown to the jury on Tuesday

Pictures of the second-degree burn Olivia received were shown to the jury on Tuesday

Pictures of the second-degree burn Olivia received were shown to the jury on Tuesday

Holmes says she hopes the chain begins labeling their chicken nugget boxes with cautionary heat labels, though they have no legal obligation to do so

Holmes says she hopes the chain begins labeling their chicken nugget boxes with cautionary heat labels, though they have no legal obligation to do so

Holmes says she hopes the chain begins labeling their chicken nugget boxes with cautionary heat labels, though they have no legal obligation to do so

Jurors heard testimony from medical experts, as well as Olivia’s parents, who said that in the weeks following the incident, the burn was bright red and painful – so much so that the then-four-year-old would have accidents rather than pull down her underwear due to fear of touching the burn.

The burn eventually transformed into a small, raised scar that does not cause the child any physical pain. However, her attorneys argued, that the pain has turned into emotional suffering. 

The scar, family attorney Keyla Smith said, will remain with Olivia for the rest of her life. No medical surgery or treatment will fully be able to remove it – only to ‘revise’ it.

‘It’s not perfection, it’s not a badge of honor to have a scar as a woman. It’s not fair at all, but that’s the society we live in,’ she said. 

The incident is similar to the famous 1994 case where Stella Liebeck was burned by hot coffee from McDonald’s. In that case, McDonald’s was ordered to pay nearly $3million, but the exact figure was later settled during appeal. Since then, coffee cups have come with a warning label. 

Following the verdict, Olivia, 8, 'continues her speech therapy, continues school, continues being a beautiful little girl. And at some point, hopefully gets the scar revised,' said her mother

Following the verdict, Olivia, 8, 'continues her speech therapy, continues school, continues being a beautiful little girl. And at some point, hopefully gets the scar revised,' said her mother

Following the verdict, Olivia, 8, ‘continues her speech therapy, continues school, continues being a beautiful little girl. And at some point, hopefully gets the scar revised,’ said her mother

Following the verdict, Smith said she believed that the ‘jury spoke’ through their decision. ‘We asked for what we think is fair, what the evidence supports.’ 

McDonald’s legal team declined to comment following the verdict. 

Holmes said she hopes the chain begins labeling their chicken nugget boxes with cautionary heat labels, though they have no legal obligation to do so.

Holmes added, for now, her daughter ‘continues her speech therapy, continues school, continues being a beautiful little girl. And at some point, hopefully gets the scar revised.’

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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