McDonalds Enacts New Anti-Lawsuit Policy

Martha Throebeck on Friday, August 11, 2000

from the over-one-billion-lawsuits-served dept.

In a move to counter lawsuits involving spilled hot coffee, all McDonalds restaurants will now require that customers pass a "Hot Beverage Safety Course" and sign a "No Lawyers Agreement" before they can purchase any hot drinks. People who do not meet these requirement will only be able to buy room temperature coffee that's been left on the counter for twenty minutes.

One year ago a handicapped worker (hired under the Americans with Disabilities Act) spilled hot coffee on a customer at the drive-thru window. The victim (or, rather, her lawyer) wants upwards of half a million dollars. For McDonalds, it's a lose-lose situation: if they discriminate, they could be sued under the ADA, but if they don't discriminate, well, they could be sued anyways.

The new policy is designed to prevent such rock-and-hard-place situations in the future. All McDonalds restaurants will now offer daily safety classes, lasting about 30 minutes, in which customers will listen to lectures and watch a short video on the dangers of hot beverages. Graduates of this class will only get "hot coffee privileges" after they sign a contract in which they forfeit their right to hire a lawyer or file a lawsuit in the event that they do something stupid and burn themselves with their coffee.

In addition, all beverages served at a temperature greater than 80 degrees will only be delivered in spill-proof, child-proof, danger-proof, lawyer-proof, idiot-proof insulated containers that resemble a baby bottle.

"These new Coffee Delivery Devices might be cumbersome to drink from," acknowledged a McDonalds executive. "But you'll never burn yourself because it's impossible to take the lid off."

For those customers that are unable to pass the safety class, or unwilling to sign the dotted line, McDonalds will still offer barely lukewarm coffee in styrofoam cups. "If you let it sit in the sun for a few hours, it might warm up to the desired temperature," advised the McDonalds executive.

He added, "If you don't like this new policy... tough! Direct your irate mail and complaints to the overachieving lawyers that filed suit against us. It's their fault!"