Jury Finds McDonalds Liable After Mom Says a McNugget Burned Her Kid

Brittany M. Hughes | May 12, 2023
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This is why we can’t have nice things. Or hot things, it seems.

A McDonald’s franchise was found liable by a jury after a mom said her daughter suffered a second-degree burn from one of the restaurant’s chicken McNuggets.

Here’s the story: Philana Holmes said she rolled through the drive-thru at a McDonald’s in Tamarac, near Fort Lauderdale back in 2019, where she ordered two Happy Meals for her young son and daughter. As she drove away, she handed the food to the kids in the backseat. Seconds later, she said she heard her four-year-old daughter, who is autistic, screaming. It apparently took her a couple of minutes to finally pull over the car, when she got out and discovered the little girl had suffered a nasty burn from a chicken nugget that had become wedged between her bare leg and the carseat.

Holmes sued the McDonalds alleging the store had failed to adequately train employees, didn’t sufficiently warn its customers that its food may be “dangerous[ly]” hot, and alleging the restaurant had cooked the nuggets to an unnecessarily high temperature.

McDonalds denied those claims, saying the McNuggets are cooked to 160 degrees to avoid salmonella poisoning, and that freshly baked chicken bites aren’t exactly meant to be pressed up against bare skin for an extended period of time. Which, frankly, should probably be common sense, and not necessitate a bold-print warning on the package.

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While it's terribly unfortunate that this little girl suffered a preventable injury, it's unclear why it’s McDonald’s responsibility to make sure a McNugget has cooled enough for a kid to eat it, rather than the parents’ job before tossing the sack of processed chicken blobs back to their toddler.

But it seems the jury didn’t see it that way. In their opinion, the panel found the restaurant was liable for the child’s burns by failing to adequately warn customers that the food may be hot enough to cause injury. The jury also found McDonalds USA liable for allegedly not providing customers with “instructions for safe handling of the food,” as though a sign reading “Don’t Hand Hot Food To Your Kid” should have been written in giant letters on the drive-thru window.

The jury dismissed the allegation that the chicken nuggets had been in some way defective. The jury will discuss at a later date just how much dough the restaurant will have to cough up to cover the damages.

The moral of the story? Food is oftentimes served hot - especially if it's something that has to be fried in the fires of hell to avoid parasites that trigger Montezuma's Revenge or, worse, land your butt in the hospital. And if you make the voluntary choice to order hot food for your kid, maybe don't toss it to them without checking it first. Because, you know, you're the parent.

Or, then again, just burn the bejeezus out of your kid and rake in the cash. That works, too.

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