Russian citizen sues McDonald's over spilled coffee

A Muscovite filed a $3,500 lawsuit against the fast food corporation

The fashion to sue fast food enterprises has reached Russia. Thirty-seven-year-old Muscovite Olga Kuznetsova claimed a 100,000 ruble ($3,500) compensation from McDonald's for the burn that a spilled cup of coffee had left on her body. The suit has been filed at one of Moscow district counts.

According to the story as told by the claimant, she was coming out of McDonald's restaurant on May 5th: “I pushed the heavy door with my hand, while carrying the tray with the other. The door slammed and spilled the cup of coffee on me. I asked the personnel of the restaurant, if they could help me out, but they just said that they had run out of ointment and brought a towel and some ice,” Olga Kuznetsova said. The woman addressed to a hospital and then went to Russia's Sklifosofsky's Institute, where she was diagnosed with first and second degree burns.

Kuznetsova's lawyer believes that the restaurant violated the customer's right for safe services and broke the requirement of the Russian Surgeon General, which obliged public catering establishments to have first-aid kits.

The administration of McDonald's division in Russia believes that the claim from the Russian client is not worth considering. “There is a warning written in Russian on every McDonald's coffee cup: “Caution, hot!” The written warning guarantees that the goods are safe for customers,” the company's press secretary Svetlana Polyakova believes.

Manager of the restaurant consulting project of the company Restcon, Andrey Petrakov, thinks that the situation could be classified as an attempt to obtain money from a large company. According to Petrakov, the Russian claimant's decision to act so was caused with similar incidents that she had probably seen in American movies.

”What blackmail are you talking about? I have suffered from bodily harm, I had to take three weeks off from work, doctors still say I should hide from direct sunlight,” Olga Kuznetsova claims. The woman says that it would cost her much money to remove traces of the coffee burn left on her body.

The coffee lawsuit filed by the Muscovite is the first one in Russia's law practice. Legal experts differ in their opinions as far as its perspective is concerned. Lawyer Kirill Smirnov thinks that the claimant has very few chances to win the trial, as McDonald's lawyers have had such incidents in the past. Another lawyer, Gamlet Atanesyan, is certain that Kuznetsova's lawsuit may be upheld: “Services must be safe. Customers are not supposed to think that something can fall down on them from the ceiling, that a chair can break, or a door can slam them, as it happened in this case,” the expert said. 

Stella Liebeck is considered the most successful claimant at this point. Ten years ago she was awarded with $640 thousand in damages over a spilled cup of coffee. A lot of other people followed her example. The case provided the inspiration for the True Stella Awards for most incredible lawsuits within the American court system. Stella Liebeck spilled hot coffee on her lap, which resulted in the third degree burn. McDonald's spokespeople stated that it was the customer who was guilty of the incident, but Liebeck eventually won the trial: the court ruled that the lids to McDonald's coffee cups were designed badly and there was no specific warning written on the cups.

American citizen Veronica Martin from Tennessee sued McDonald's in 2001 over a hot pickle. The woman filed the $110,000 lawsuit against the corporation claiming that she had been burned on the chin by a hot pickle. Veronica stated that the injury from the second degree burn left a permanent scar on her chin. Veronica's husband, Darrin Martin, followed his wife's example and sued McDonald's too seeking the $15,000 compensation over the fact that he had been deprived of conjugal communication with his wife during a certain period of time.

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Author`s name Olga Savka