News of another hot coffee lawsuit just came out, a Vineland, New Jersey man said he suffered second degree burns on his thighs and groin from his scalding Dunkin' Donuts beverage because his lid was loose allowing the spill. Let me say this, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  We've had so many of these cases that I have to ask, why isn't anyone changing the temperatures? It would be in the restaurants' best interest to do that right? Actually, it isn't.

Dan Cox is an expert witness and legal consultant for hot beverage law suits. He even wrote the book on it...no really, he did. It's titled "Handling Hot Coffee" and he tells us why the chains risk it. Apparently, Americans have become accustomed to a certain taste when it comes to their hot beverages. In order to extract the exact flavor from the coffee beans, tea leaves or cocoa, that chains are known for, the beverage has to be a certain temperature which is well above the threshold for burning skin.

On any given day, there are roughly 10 hot coffee/hot tea or hot chocolate law suits in progress.  Remember the McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit back in 1994 that put all this in the main stream?  People think that temperatures have been reduced in their favorite beverages as a result of that lawsuit, but that's actually a myth.  Warnings have gone on the cup warning how hot the beverage is, but the temperature itself has not been altered. If it is, the taste changes and sales may drop off. I guess we're picky like that.

It makes sense from a money perspective when you think about it, how many cups of hot liquid are sold every single day? Do you think they want to rock the boat of that profit by changing the taste? Absolutely not. The typical temperature of a hot fast food beverage ranges from 165 to 180 degrees, any cooler than that there is a difference in taste quality. For comparison, a hot bath would be about 105 degrees and you would inch your way into it. In a sit-down restaurant you can expect the coffee to get up to 180 degrees.

Lids and hot beverages have led to lawsuits against both Dunkin' and Wawa in the past. In another case back in 2014, a woman sued a Ramsey Dunkin' because the lid of her cup of hot tea popped off, spilling the hot liquid onto her lap. The tea was said to be served at a temperature not intended for human consumption.
Then, a Somerset woman settled her lawsuit against Dunkin' for $522,000 in 2015 after suffering burns on her face and neck when she tripped over a curb in the parking lot.
The parents of a 3-year-old girl who was severely burned by a spilled hot cup of coffee at a Neptune City Wawa filed a federal lawsuit in 2018 claiming the temperature was way too hot for normal standards.

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Another complaint, was from a woman at a Dunkin' Donuts store in Belleville, N.J., back in 2012. Her apple cider was said to be excessively hot beyond industry standards.  The lid was dislodged causing third degree burns and permanent scarring on her thighs. The driver was trapped in the car by her seatbelt and she was wearing clothing that could not be quickly removed to stop the burn.

Dunkin' Donuts' staff have stated in the past that they train their employees to never hand customers un-lidded cups of coffee or tea, instead customers are handed their cup only after a staff member has secured the lid and checked it twice.
All Dunkin' Donuts' hot beverage cups display a warning that reads, "CAUTION: THIS BEVERAGE IS EXTREMELY HOT."  Do you think that takes their liability away?  I'm curious what you think!  Email me Shannon@943thepoint.com
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