In a bitter testament to the disregard for customer safety, a jovial fast-food dinner transforms into a lawsuit, following a scorching meal that leaves a toddler in excruciating pain.
A toddler was left in agony from second-degree burns after consuming a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal from a McDonald’s in Tamarac. This meal, procured through a seemingly innocent drive-thru, proved too hot to handle, leading to Philana Holmes, the mother, resorting to legal action. She filed a lawsuit against the fast-food colossus, charging them with serving dangerously hot food to her young child.
Holmes, together with Humberto Caraballo Estevez, the child’s father, are battling McDonald’s in court on the counts of negligence and inadequate training. The two hold not only the franchise operator, Upchurch Foods, but also the McDonald’s corporation accountable, claiming a disregard for customer safety in the incident of serving scorching hot chicken nuggets to minors.
The courtroom in Broward, Florida, reverberated with the painful echoes of the 4-year-old victim’s screams and shrieks during the hearing on Tuesday. Legal representatives for the plaintiffs delivered an impactful opening, contending that the franchise owner and the corporation should have been aware of the dangerously hot food they were dispatching through the drive-thru. The lawyers underscored the need for stringent safety standards for hot food to avoid any such incidents in the future.
Nevertheless, Scott Yount, the defense attorney, ardently contested McDonald’s culpability in the incident. Yount stated, “Chicken McNuggets are designed to be eaten, not to be pressed against the thigh of a 4-year-old girl for two minutes.”
The scenario turned grim when the sizzling chicken nugget got trapped between the child’s thigh and the seatbelt. The prolonged contact of the overheated nugget with the child’s skin resulted in severe second-degree burns, leaving lasting scars on the young girl.
Subsequently, McDonald’s issued an official statement expressing their viewpoint on the matter.
“We take every complaint seriously and certainly those that involve the safety of our food and the experiences of our guests. This matter was looked into thoroughly. Ensuring a high standard for food safety and quality means following strict policies and procedures for each product we cook and serve. Those policies and procedures were followed in this case, and we, therefore, respectfully disagree with the plaintiff’s claims.”
The witness stand saw the likes of Ralph Fernandez, who functions as a go-between for the franchise owner, Upchurch, and McDonald’s USA. In his testimony, he asserted that Chicken McNuggets are heated to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit and this heat level is sustained until serving to ensure fully cooked food.
When asked by the plaintiff’s lawyer, John Fischer, if the heat was sufficient to inflict burns, Fernandez responded, “That is not the intent.”
Presided over by Broward Circuit Judge David Haimes, the trial is anticipated to be relatively short, with the focus lying squarely on McDonald’s potential responsibility for the child’s injuries. Should the family triumph in this legal battle, a subsequent trial will be held to ascertain the compensation they are due.