Free «McDonald’s Case Analysis» Essay Sample

The Major Issues In The Liebeck Case

The major issues in the Liebeck case are on the basis she sustained third degree burns following the coffee spill. The third degree burns were evident as she reached an emergence room. At the same time after the spill Liebeck spent eight days in a hospital because the burns were over 6% of her body. Carroll & Buchholtz (2011) noted that another major issue is that Liebeck lost 20 pounds during the ordeal and at times was basically immobilized. Though McDonald was requested to turn down the temperature of the coffee by Liebeck the company overlooked the requests.

The lawsuit was a serious business because of the company’s gross negligence. Instead of McDonald’s taking into consideration the serious issues raised by various clients, the company moved for summary dismissal of the case, defending the coffee’s heat and blaming Liebeck for spilling it. Carroll & Buchholtz (2011) says that the lawsuit was a serious business because according to the company, Liebeck was the contiguous cause of the injury. The lawsuit was not frivolous as some people thought because the evidence presented by the prosecution grabbed its attention. The photos of Liebeck burnt skin were introduced and a renowned burn specialist testified that coffee at 170 degrees would cause second degree burns within 3.5 seconds of hitting the skin. 



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McDonald’s Social Economic, Legal And Ethical Responsibilities T Consumers

McDonald’s should be answerable lawfully for the harm that it caused to Liebeck, for the hospice bills and in addition for the purpose of good will. McDonald’s product caused harm to its consumer and therefore the company should have at least asked for forgiveness for its blunder instead of holding the consumer responsible for everything that happened. In many instances people tend to set aside benevolent expectations and focus on ethical outlooks particularly those forces that mainly come into tension with ethics, economics and law (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2011). In McDonald’s decision making situations, ethics, economics and law should be the central variables that must be considered and balanced against each other in the quest to make wise decision.

McDonald’s must fulfill all the three responsibilities in relation to Liebeck case. Carroll & Buchholtz (2011) says that the management of McDonald’s should ensure the action is profitable, in compliance with the law and represents ethical behavior. The company’s action should be both profitable and ethical. This is because if McDonald’s actions are ethical, there is a good chance it is also legal but the guideline again is to proceed cautiously.             

Consumer’s Responsibilities When They Buy Products

The customers carry their share of liability because company’s such as McDonald’s publish warnings and dangers that are associated with consumption of their products. Moreover consumers should have some liability, especially when knowing the products they are buying. This is because the quality of hotness is not an inherent characteristic of the coffee or hamburgers (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2011).

Also even if McDonald’s did heat its coffee to higher temperatures than most restaurants do, it is still tricky to understand why it should be responsible for the woman’s fault of dumping hot coffee in her lap. Carroll & Buchholtz (2011) claims that the consumers should clearly understand the ever-present warnings which come from susceptibility that the manufacturers of coffee or hamburgers are legally responsible for damages if they fail to warn consumers about possible risks. In this context, consumers must be able to cede away the responsibility to make their own determinations of risk.       

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How Companies Give Consumers What They Want And Protect Them At The Same Time

The core responsibility of business is to deliver consumer value by providing quality products at fair prices. Consumer’s rights should be the starting point. The consumers have the right to be safe. McDonald’s is lawfully responsible for injuries and damages caused by their products even if they have no reason to suspect that their products might cause harm (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2011). The company should be willing to go beyond the tiny print warning on the cup that says the contents are hot. McDonald’s should at the same time be willing to change its coffee policies and procedures. Carroll & Buchholtz (2011) noted that the company must be able to scrutinize itself and perform a methodical evaluation of how well it is caring its consumers. The company should establish goals for social audit and determine how to measure the achievement of consumer protection.      

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The Arguments Supporting McDonald’s Position In Liebeck Case

McDonald moved for summary dismissal of the case, defending the coffee’s heat and blaming Liebeck for spilling it. Carroll & Buchholtz (2011) says that McDonald’s felt that Liebeck was the immediate cause of the injury. The company further acknowledged that the coffee was hot and that is how customers wanted it. Experts indicated that coffee standards entail that it should always be served hot. Carroll & Buchholtz also noted that Liebeck had only herself to blame as she was unwise to put the cup between her knees (2011)

The Arguments Supporting Liebeck Position

Liebeck filed a lawsuit charging McDonald’s with nasty laxity for selling coffee that was unjustly unsafe and unsatisfactorily manufactured. Carroll & Buchholtz mentioned that Liebeck wanted her compensatory damages including pain and suffering and triple that amount in punitive damages (2011). Another argument supporting Liebeck position is that a quality assurance supervisor at McDonald’s claimed that the company did not lower its coffee heat despite 700 burn complaints over ten years (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2011). Another important argument supporting Liebeck position was that the company knew its coffee sometimes caused serious burns but it was not planning to go beyond the tiny print warning on its cups. Also it was noted that McDonald’s was not intending to change any of its coffee policies or procedures claiming that there were more serious dangers in restaurants. 

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My Position As A Juror In The Liebeck Case

If I had been a juror in the Liebeck case I would suggest that McDonald’s compensates the Ms. Liebeck. This is because from the safety consultant’s view, there were 700 complaints about in every 24 million cups sold by McDonalds. As a juror I would support compensation because initially Liebeck had requested that McDonald’s pay $90,000 for her medical expenses, pain and suffering. Instead the company countered with a generous offer of $800 as compensation. This implied that the company cared more about statistics than its customers. In addition, I would support Liebeck because the coffee she purchased was defective had excessive heat and because the cup had inadequate warnings. Also I will support Liebeck based on the allegation that McDonald’s acted with conscious indifference for the safety of its customers.  

My Position As A Juror In The Pickle Burn Case

In the pickle burn case a woman claimed that she was permanently scarred by a hot McDonald’s hamburger pickle. MAR Inc. which operates under McDonald had no wrongdoing. Therefore as a juror I would suggest that McDonald’s should not make any monetary payment to Veronica despite contending that she suffered a second degree burn on her chin after an extremely hot pickle fell from one of the small burgers she purchase in October 1999. As a juror in the pickle burn case I would not recommend compensation because the burn marks in her chin were not permanent as in the Liebeck’s case.  

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The Similarities And Differences Between The Coffee Burn Cases And The Pickle Burn Case

The similarity in both coffee spill and the pickle drop cases is that the customers were permanently, bodily and psychologically wounded as a result of the severe conditions of the foods that were served by the company. The main difference is that the coffee spill case was much more disturbing for Liebeck than the pickle burn case. Also in both cases the impending threats of harm are present because of the evidences and the amount of area that coffee can cover; hence the coffee spill case can be perceived as potentially more dangerous. 

The Case That Represents A More Serious Threat To Consumer Harm?

The coffee spill case represents a more serious threat to consumer because Stella lived out the rest of her life in pain and despoilment, with possibly a few hundred thousand dollars to reimburse her for years of psychotherapy and a daughter's lost wages. The amount of

hot coffee burns that happen are numerically irrelevant when compared to the billion cups of coffee McDonald’s sells yearly.

What McDonalds and Other Fast Food Restaurants Should Do about Hot Foods Such AS Hamburgers When Consumers are Injured

The company must ensure that there is evidence of injury caused by hot foods before it embarks on the compensation plan. The companies should compensate injured consumers of punitive damages on the basis that the consumer followed the safety precautions indicated in the packaging units.McDonald’s should make serious efforts to warn its consumers by placing adequate warning on the lid of the cup in which the cup is served. When consumers are injured, the company involved must engage in settlements outside the court. Fast food companies must be willing to pay for the medical expenses and pain and suffering caused by hot foods when the customer is injured despite observing safety measures.

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Assessment Of The Stella Awards

Stella Liebeck award was appropriate although it made light of serious problems. This is because the company was responsible on the claims of product fault, infringe of the implied warranty of merchantability and violation of the disguised warranty of fitness for particular purpose. Also Liebeck injuries demanded for an award of $200, 000 compensatory damages. The award of $2.7 million in punitive damages was appropriate based on the findings of unruly, uncontrolled and malevolent conduct towards its consumers.

The Implications Of These Cases For Future Product Related Lawsuits

The implications of these cases for future product related lawsuits are that consumers are well informed and they know their rights. This implies that companies must take enough precautions through regular trainings to avoid recurrence of such lawsuits. The company can only do so much to avert such incidents from occurring again. Another implication is that McDonald’s should be responsible legally for the harm that is caused and for the hospital bills after selling faulty foods to customers. 

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Are businesses responsible for customer’s accidents or carelessness in using products

Yeswe now live in a society where businesses are not responsible for customer’s accidents. This is because McDonald’s should have at least expressed regret for its mistakes in its place of blaming the consumer for everything that happened. Also businesses are not answerable for customers accidents because more than 700 claims has been made against McDonald’s but the company had refused to change its policy.  In addition, 700 complaints should have been enough for McDonald to take action and try to examine what precisely was happening. This case indicates that some businesses are choosing quality over consumers resulting to neglect of their social responsibility and ethical implications of total disregard of the consumers. 

The Responsibility Of merchants who sell products to senior citizens

Yes it is the responsibility of merchants to observe safety precautions when selling products to senior citizens. This is because companies should give consumers what they want and ensure that the coffee cups and other packaging units are manufactured with visible caution signs. In addition, companies must take remedial measures and warnings when dealing with senior and elderly customers. For example lids of hot beverage cups should be embossed with the words that give enough warning. Customers must be given the opportunity to choose the temperature of their beverages before purchasing. On the other hand it important to clarify that an elderly customer should be well-informed enough to comprehend the risks of certain foodstuffs that they purchase. 


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