Thursday, November 8, 2012

Consumers Causing Chaos

Both of the cases brought against food giant, McDonald’s seem to be frivolous on the surface.  Hot coffee and obese children are not things that most people would take before a judge.  After reading about the cases I do not believe that McDonald’s is at fault in either case.  

The woman asked for hot coffee.  An employee did not dose her with the cup, she spilled it on herself.  In the case of McDonald’s causing childhood obesity, again, the parents willingly fed the children the company’s food.  McDonald’s only claims to use fresh ingredients, not healthy ones.  From where I stand both cases are not an issue of product liability but consumer responsibility.  The other day, I went into a shop and ordered a cup of hot tea.   It was so hot I could not even pick up the cup.  I asked the barista to give me another cup to take some of the heat from my fingers and ice cubes to cool the scalding tea.  As the consumer, we have to be responsible and not place hot products on or near our skin.  It is also not a good idea to handle food or drink in a vehicle, moving or otherwise, which is what the plaintiff did.  

With regard to childhood obesity, the parents are ultimately responsible for what their children are eating.  McDonald’s ads are not deceptive, but people make assumptions of their own volition.  The ads claim freshness and taste not health and wellness when it comes to their food.  Consumers have to understand that eating food that is fried, especially deep fried, is not healthy.  Consumers also need to be aware that eating the same foods over and over is not a balanced diet.  

The only issue that I can take up with the food corporation with regard to the issues at hand is the need for McDonald’s to stop marketing to children and young adults whose discernment is not fully developed.  Children are vulnerable to manipulation but parents, the adults, ought to know better. McDonald’s has done a lot in recent years by putting healthier – not healthy, healthier than older items – on the menu and including the caloric intake for each item.  They do not have to provide such information but are doing the ethical thing, as they are fully aware of the national obesity epidemic.  It is a socially responsible step in the right direction.       


Devan, A. (2010, August 27). McDonald's and Product Liability Lawsuits. Retrieved November 8, 2012, from Yahoo Voices:

Obama, V. (2010, January 5). Liebeck V. McDonald's Restaurants or "McDonald's Coffee Case". Retrieved November 8, 2012, from Yahoo Voices:

O'Brien, G. (2011, May 31). Marketing to Children: Accepting Responsibility. Retrieved November 8, 2012, from Business Ethics: The Magazine of Corporate Responsibility:

The Actual Facts about the McDonald's Coffee Case. (1996). Retrieved November 8, 2012, from the Lectric Law Library:

Wald, J. (2003, February 17). McDonald's Obesity Suit Tossed. Retrieved November 8, 2012, from CNN Money:


  1. I mostly agree with you on the Pelman case, parents and consumers must take an active role and responsibility for what they consumer or allow their children to eat. However, I disagree that McDonald's had no liability in the Leibeck incident. They mandate that coffee is served at a temperature hot enough to cause third degree burns, even after settling over 700 other burn claims. I believe they failed to use due care in serving drive thru coffee.

  2. As Cynthia says above, do you think McDonald's is in any way liable considering they received complaints and settled previous cases of burn injuries from the coffee? If a company has a defective product (as could be argued to be the case with the boiling coffee) should they address that?
    Your story about getting tea that was scalding hot is a good example and valid point. Thanks for your post, I enjoyed reading it.