Everyone remembers the infamous McDonald's coffee lawsuit from the mid '90s. Seventy-nine-year-old Stella Liebeck spilled scalding hot coffee in her lap, suffering third-degree burns and requiring extensive surgery. After the restaurant refused Liebeck's offer to accept $20,000 in settlement, the case went to trial, and a jury eventually decided on a verdict totaling nearly $3 million.
Now another scalding case has come to the fore -- this one involving allegedly piping-hot nachos sold at Disney World in Florida.
Michael and Maria Harris, of Chula Vista, California, were visiting Disney World with their four-year-old son Isaiah in March. One night, the family stopped to have dinner at the Magic Kingdom's Cosmic Ray's Starlite Cafe, and Isaiah decided on a plate of nachos for himself.
Seated in an unsteady chair, Isaiah began to fall and grabbed his food tray in an effort to steady himself. According to the suit, his cup of scalding hot nacho cheese flew into his face, causing “severe burns ... permanent scarring, pain and suffering.” His parents, who looked on in horror, say they suffered “severe emotional distress” as a result of the incident.
No “reasonable expectation”
Sean Cahill, the San Diego attorney who is handling the case, told USA Today that the parents didn't expect the cheese to be as hot as it was.
“The cheese should not have been that hot,” Cahill said. “Nobody has a reasonable expectation that it be served at a temperature causing immediate and severe burns on contact.”
Asked by the Miami Herald for comment on the suit, a Disney representative said, “It’s unfortunate when any child gets injured. We just received notice of the lawsuit and we are currently reviewing it.”
Follows disability suit
The suit caps a week filled with litigation for Disney. Last Monday, quadriplegic Jose Martinez filed suit alleging that California-based Disney World doesn't have sufficient evacuation procedures for visitors with disabilities. Martinez says he was living a nightmare when the “It's a Small World” ride stalled in November 2009, and he was stuck in his wheelchair for over 40 minutes. Other riders had long since been evacuated, but the resort was unable to get Martinez down due to his disability, he alleges.
To make matters worse, while stuck on the ride, Martinez began suffering from a condition called dysreflexia, a potentially deadly condition that can be set off by stress.
“It feels like an ice pick going through your temples,” Martinez told the Orange County Register. The already excruciating pain was worsened by “the continuous, 'small world' music in the background,” Martinez told the paper.