When a child was hungry, mom Philana Holmes purchased her a happy meal from McDonald’s. However, the Chicken McNugget Happy Meal that Holmes purchased from a Tamarac McDonald’s drive-thru location was extremely hot. Holmes recorded her daughter screaming out in pain after receiving second-degree burns from the hot chicken, and now Holmes is taking McDonald’s to court after filing a lawsuit against the fast-food giant for serving “dangerously hot” chicken to her toddler.
Now, Holmes and the father of the injured child, Humberto Caraballo Estevez, have filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s for negligence and improper training. They accuse the corporate fast-food chain as well as the franchise operator, Upchurch Foods, of failing to secure the safety of their customers when serving scorching hot chicken nuggets to the children.
On Tuesday, the Broward, Florida courtroom filled with the screams and shrieks of the 4-year-old victim. The attorneys for the plaintiffs also delivered their opening arguments to say that the franchise owner should have known they were sending out dangerously hot food through the drive-thru window. The attorneys also claim that the McDonald’s corporation should have set stricter safety standards for their hot food orders to ensure that no children are burned when eating the food.
Meanwhile, defense lawyer Scott Yount argued that McDonald’s should not be blamed for the incident. “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.
The chicken nugget burned the girl after it got wedged between her thigh and the seatbelt. The hot chicken nugget touched the girl’s skin for so long that it caused second-degree burns and scaring that continues to affect the victim to this day.
On Monday, McDonald’s issued a statement about the case.
“We take every complaint seriously and certainly those that involve the safety of our food and the experiences of our guests,” it said. “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.”
In the case, lawyers called witness Ralph Fernandez, who serves as a liaison between the franchise owner, Upchurch, and McDonald’s USA. In his testimony, Fernandez insisted that Chicken McNuggets are cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature is maintained until the food is served. The temperature is required to ensure the food is fully cooked.
“Is it hot enough to cause burns?” plaintiff’s lawyer John Fischer asked.
“That is not the intent,” Fernandez responded.
The trial is being overseen by Broward Circuit Judge David Haimes. Experts expect the trial to be brief because they are focusing on whether or not McDonald’s is responsible for the little girl’s injuries. If the family wins the case, they will have a second trial to determine the damages that should be paid out.