FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The family of a 4-year-old girl who allegedly suffered a severe burn from a Chicken McNugget four years ago is suing a South Florida McDonald’s franchise and the parent company of the fast-food chain, court records show.
The complaint, originally filed in a Broward County court in September 2019, alleges that McDonald’s was guilty of poor training and failing to protect its customer when the child was scalded on the leg after receiving the Happy Meal from a McDonald’s drive-thru.
Neither side is disputing that the child suffered burns, the Sun-Sentinel reported. The argument is over which side to blame.
Opening arguments in the case were made in Broward County Circuit Court on Tuesday, the newspaper reported. According to online court records, the lawsuit was brought by the child’s parents, Philana Holmes and Humberto Caraballo Estevez, against Upchurch Foods, Inc., a McDonald’s franchisee in Tamarac, and McDonald’s USA.
Holmes and Estevez are seeking more than $15,000 in damages, court records show.
According to the lawsuit, Holmes went to the McDonald’s drive-thru in Tamarac on Aug. 21, 2019, and ordered a six-piece Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal for her 4-year-old daughter, WPLG-TV reported.
According to Holmes’ pretrial deposition, the child had dropped a nugget on her lap, which became stuck between her thigh and the vehicle’s seat belt, the television station reported.
The food remained lodged for about two minutes and left the girl “disfigured and scarred,” according to court documents. She allegedly suffered second-degree burns.
“Every once in a while she looks at (the scar) and refers to it as her chicken nugget,” Estevez said in a pretrial deposition, according to WPLG.
“The Chicken McNuggets inside of that Happy Meal were unreasonably and dangerously hot ... and caused (the victim)’s skin and flesh around her thighs to burn,” the lawsuit states.
“If it’s preventable, it’s warnable. You should warn someone about it,” Jordan Redavid, who is representing the girl’s parents, said in court on Tuesday, according to WPLG. “If you don’t do that, then you’re liable.”
According to defense attorney Scott Yount, the McDonald’s in Tamarac was not to blame, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
“Chicken McNuggets are designed to be eaten, not to be pressed against the thigh of a 4-year-old girl for two minutes,” Yount said. “Ms. Holmes purchased 32 chicken McNuggets that day. The evidence will show (that for) 31 of them, there was no problem.”
“We take every complaint seriously and certainly those that involve the safety of our food and the experiences of our guests,” McDonald’s said in a statement on Monday, according to the Sun-Sentinel. “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 trial is focusing only on whether McDonald’s is liable for the child’s injuries, the newspaper reported. If the plaintiffs win, a second trial will determine damages.