Hot McNugget leaves young girl with second degree burns, McDonald's found liable

May 14 2023, 7:20 pm

A jury in Florida has decided that McDonald’s is to blame for not warning customers after an overheated chicken McNugget fell on a girl’s leg, leaving her with second-degree burns.

South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that the incident occurred in August 2019 at a McDonald’s in the city of Tamarac, Florida. Philana Holmes, the girl’s mother, recalled how she ordered Happy Meals for her son and daughter from a drive-thru. She never received a warning that the food might be hot.

She then handed the food to her children in the back seat and drove away. Her daughter, who was four years old at the time, started screaming, forcing Holmes to stop at a parking lot.


That’s when she discovered that a nugget had fallen between her child’s thigh and seatbelt where it stayed for two minutes, leaving her with second-degree burns and scars.

Holmes took a video of the incident and the footage was played in court. According to the report, the girl is autistic and did not testify.

Along with the child’s father, Humberto Caraballo Estevez, Holmes filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s for negligence and improper training. Upchurch Foods, the franchise operating the McDonald’s restaurant, is also being sued by the family for “failing to protect the safety of its customers.”

However, lawyer Scott Yount stated that the company was not at fault.

“Chicken McNuggets are designed to be eaten, not to be pressed against the thigh of a four-year-old girl for two minutes,” he said.

Keith Homan/Shutterstock

Ralph Fernandez, who acts as the liaison between McDonald’s and Upchurch, testified that the chicken is cooked to 160°F (71°C). That temperature is then maintained until the nuggets are served. McDonald’s lawyers argued that temperatures are maintained to prevent salmonella.

When asked if the nuggets are hot enough to cause burns, Fernandez replied, “That is not the intent.”

After a two-day testimony, the jury ruled that McDonald’s did not warn customers about the dangers of its hot Chicken McNuggets. According to the jury, McDonald’s is to blame for not providing instructions on how to safely handle the food, while Upchurch was liable for negligence and not warning customers.

Another jury will decide how much McDonald’s and Upchurch will have to pay.

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