Facts In order to gain a better understanding of the two lawsuits in question, one must first review the facts and pertinent information surrounding them. In the Libeled v. McDonald’s case, the defendant in the case was a major corporation – McDonald’s and the plaintiff was 79 year old, Stella Libeled of Albuquerque, New Mexico (Cain, 2007). In February of 1 992, Libeled visited a McDonald’s drive through and ordered a coffee (Cain, 2007). Her grandson, who was driving, moved the car up and stopped so that she could add cream and sugar (Cain, 2007).
When she opened it, the 190 degree coffee poured onto her lap and her sweatpants absorbed it, holding it near her skin (Cain, 2007). Libeled suffered third-degree burns which went through to her bones on the inside of her thighs, pelvic region, buttocks, and genitals (Cain, 2007). As a result, she spent eight days in the hospital where she had to have her skin grafted as well as treatments to remove the dead, unhealthy tissue (Cain, 2007). These burns left Libeled incapacitated for two years and she was permanently scarred (Cain, 2007).
Libeled contacted McDonald’s to discuss the incident with them and ask for payment of $11 ,OHO worth of her medical expenses (Cain, 2007). Since they ignored her, she hired Morgan Reed, a Houston attorney who previously worked on a case involving someone who Was burned by McDonald’s coffee (Cain, 2007). Reed also attempted to contact McDonald’s to get them to compensate Libeled for medical expenses and pain and suffering but they responded by agreeing to pay $800 (Cain, 2007). As a result, Libeled proceeded to file suit against McDonald’s (Cain, 2007).
The other case involved a local neighborhood dry cleaner, Custom Cleaners, and Roy L. Pearson, Jar. , an administrative law judge from Washington, D. C. (Fisher, AAA). Initially, in 2002, custom Cleaners lost a pair of Person’s pants and gave him a check for $1 50 a week later, but asked him not to come back (Fisher, AAA). Shortly thereafter, Pearson resumed doing business with Custom Cleaners insisting that without a car, they were the only dry cleaners that he had could access (Fisher, AAA). In 2005, Pearson brought in five suits for alteration because his new job required that he wear a suit every day (Fisher, AAA).
Pearson was set to start his new position on May 6th, but the pants that he dropped off on May 3rd were not ready on the 5th (Fisher, AAA). Custom Cleaners then promised that the pants would be ready early on May 6th. However, when Pearson arrived to pick them up, they were not there (Fisher, AAA). Pearson noted that Custom Cleaners had two signs on their wall: “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “Same Day Service” (Fisher, AAA). He was insistent that their business did not adhere to these signs, mainly because of his dissatisfaction with Custom Cleaners (Fisher, AAA).
A week later, the Chunks presented Pearson with pants that he said were not his, so he wrote them a letter asking for $1,150 to buy a new suit (Fisher, AAA). Eventually, Pearson would not accept that mount, so the Chunks subsequently offered him different amounts – $3,000, $4,600 and $1 2,000 ? in and effort to settle the case (Fisher, AAA). However, Pearson refused and decided to file suit, requesting $65,000,000 in damages claiming that Custom Cleaners was fraudulent, negligent, and running scams (Fisher, AAA).
Pearson represented himself, explaining that he was representing every wronged customer in Washington, DC (Fisher, AAA). Issues In each of the aforementioned cases, there were some significant issues that should be considered in order to fully understand the case. In the Libeled v. McDonald’s case, the main issue in the case is the issue of negligence. Prior to Libel’s case, McDonald’s had over 700 claims filed by people who were burned by their coffee (Girlie, 1994). Did McDonald’s fail to live up to a standard of care that a company should meet to protect Libeled from an arbitrary risk of harm?
Were Libel’s burns the result of negligence on McDonald’s part, making them liable? More specifically, the negligent actions leading to product liability in this case are negligent failure to warn and negligent provision of an inadequate warning (Subtask, Brenna & Browne, 2015, p. 189). Did McDonald’s deliberately serve excessively hot coffee? Another issue in the case between Libeled and McDonald’s, is whether the coffee that Libeled received was defective. When a customer purchases coffee they purchase it with the expectation that they can drink the coffee and not get third-degree burns.
Since this coffee was hot enough to cause third-degree burns, can it be concluded that Libeled did not get the product she originally intended on receiving? An additional issue in this case is whether McDonald’s was dismissive to Libeled when she contacted them about the incident and medical bills. Before Libeled filed a lawsuit, she annotated McDonald’s to tell them about what happened and to request their payment of her medical bills (Cain, 2007). Though both cases involved product and service liabilities, some of the issues in the Pearson case were different from those in the Libeled case.
Though there is an issue of negligence in both cases, the main issue in the Pearson case is that of negligent advertising (Fisher, AAA). Pearson explained that the signs that Custom Cleaners had on their walls were misleading to customers and caused them to have a false expectation (Fisher, AAA). Was Custom Cleaners negligently advertising what they could not roved? Another issue in the Pearson case is whether the amount that is being requested is reasonable. Per Person’s suite, he wanted $500,000 for attorneys fees, despite the fact that he represented himself; $2 million for emotional and mental distress; and $51. Million for a fund to assist D. C. Residents sue businesses (Fisher, Bibb). Is the amount Pearson is requesting comparable for the loss he claims to have Incurred? Additionally, whether Pearson should be held liable for his loss was an issue in this case. Pearson had an incident in 2002 where Custom Cleaners lost his pants, but he till chose to resume business with them (Fisher, 2007). When he decided to do business again despite a previous loss, should he be liable for any future losses? Applicable Laws In each case, there are applicable business laws.
In the Libeled case, the first law that is applicable to is the tort law, an injury to another’s person or property (Subtask, Brenna & Browne, 201 5, p. 153). The tort law is applicable because Libeled was injured as a result of being burned by McDonald’s coffee (Cain, 2007). These injuries gave her the right to file suit against McDonald’s in order to recuperate damages. This would be classified as a negligent tort since the injuries that Libeled sustained are considered to be due to negligence on McDonald’s part (Cain, 2007).
McDonald’s had over 700 claims of burns from their customers and did not take any action to rectify the matter by either lowering the temperature or by clearly labeling their coffee (Cain, 2007). In addition to tort law, product liability law is applicable in the Libeled v. McDonald’s case. This law is applicable because Libeled purchased coffee and assumed that she would be able to drink it without injury (Subtask, Brenna & Browne, 2015, p. 187). Since that was not the case, then McDonald’s would be held liable.
Based on the theory of negligence of the product liability law, McDonald’s had a duty of care to ensure that their product is received as expected without resulting in injury (Subtask, Brenna and Browne, 201 5, p. 188). Since the breach Of this duty resulted in Libel’s injury, then McDonald’s was negligent and liable for her Injuries. Another theory that is applicable to this case is the strict liability in tort theory. The coffee that Libeled received was considered to be defective because it was approximately 190 degrees (Girlie, 1994).
The fact that the coffee was so hot made it unreasonably dangerous and resulted in Libel’s third-degree burns. In addition, certain breaches of warranty apply to the Libeled case. McDonald’s coffee was unreasonably hot, which would be considered a breach of both the implied warranty of merchantability and the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. Based on the way the coffee was served, it was not “reasonably fit for ordinary and caused injury to the customer (Subtask, Brenna and Browne, 201 5, p. 196). In contrast, in the Pearson v.
Custom Cleaners the applicable law for this ease was the service liability law. Pearson went to Custom Cleaners to have his suit altered for work, but instead his pants were misplaced (Fisher, AAA). As a result, Pearson wanted Custom Cleaners to be held liable for their service, which resulted in the loss of his property (Fisher, Bibb). Moreover, since the service liability law is CEQ bivalent to the product liability law, the negligent theory is applicable as it was in the Libeled case (Subtask, Brenna and Browne, 2015, p. 212).
Custom Cleaners had a duty of care to ensure that the services they provide would not result in damages to their customer’s repertory or person. Since that duty was breached, they can be considered negligent. Pearson also asserted that two laws were applicable to his case – common law and consumer protection law (Finland, 2014). He felt that with their “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “Same Day Service” signs, Custom Cleaners committed common law fraud and violated some consumer protection law provisions (Finland, 2014). Pearson had his own personal interpretation of what he believed the signs meant (Finland, 2014).
Judge and/or Jury Decision Both of these cases went to trial and there were two different outcomes. In he Libeled case, the jury decided that McDonald’s was liable (Cain, 2007). They decided this liability was based on the sale of a defective product, breach of the implied warranty of fitness for particular purpose, and breach of the implied warranty of merchantability (Cain, 2007). As recuperation for Libel’s injuries, the jury awarded $1 60,000 for compensatory damages and $2. 7 million in punitive damages for negligent conduct on McDonald’s part (Cain, 2007).
However, the presiding judge, Judge Robert H. Scott, reduced the punitive damages amount to $480,000, resulting in a total award of $640,000. 9 (Cain, 2007). Judge Scott dismissed the case with prejudice (Cain, 2007). He also ordered that Libeled and McDonald’s participate in a settlement conference after the verdict was given (Cain, 2007). During this conference, a settlement was reached that was never disclosed to the public (Cain, 2007). In the Pearson v. Custom Cleaners case, Pearson failed to file a request for a trial by jury in a timely manner (Finland, 2014).
Later on, he filed a motion for trial by jury that was denied, so his case was heard by a trial court (Finland, 2014). The trial court concluded that Pearson did not sufficiently purport his claims that Custom Cleaners lost his pants and/or violated the service liability law (Finland, 2014). Furthermore, the trial court rejected Person’s claim that Custom Cleaners committed common law fraud and violated provisions the consumer protection law with their “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “Same Day Service” signs (Finland, 2014).
These claims were rejected based on the fact that Pearson did not present any law or premise that adequately supported them (Finland, 2014). Ultimately, judgment was given in favor of the defendants, Custom Cleaners, in every aspect of this case (Finland, 2014). Analysis of Judge and/or Jury Decision Once a judge or jury decides a case, many are often left wondering wonder whether the decision that was made was appropriate. In the Libeled v. McDonald’s case, the jury made the right decision to hold McDonald’s liable and award Libeled damages (Cain, 2007).
Libel’s case of negligence was supported by the evidence that showed that McDonald’s knew that their coffee was excessively hot and served it that way to “maximize flavor” (Cain, 2007). Moreover, it was discovered that McDonald’s had over 700 burn claims from their hot coffee and that they did not appropriately label their hot coffee Cain, 2007). Thus, McDonald’s should have been held liable for negligence. This case also involved question of product liability as McDonald’s coffee was the object in question.
When a person purchases coffee, they expect to be able to drink it. Such was not the case with the coffee that Libeled purchased, so the coffee would be considered defective. The coffee would also breach the implied warranty of merchantability; at 190 degrees, it was not fit for drinking. The 190 degree coffee would also breach the implied warranty of fitness for particular purpose since it injured Libeled when she ride to “use it. ” On the basis and proof of product defect and the breaches of implied warranties, Libeled deserved a favorable decision (Cain, 2007).
As opposed to the Libeled case, the Pearson case’s decision was not favorable for the plaintiff. The trial court’s decision that the defendants, Custom Cleaners, were not guilty was appropriate. Person’s case was an issue that involved the service liability law and the advertising aspect of the negligence theory. He had to prove that, as a result of Customs Cleaners’ service, there was detriment to his property. In terms of the service liability aspect of the case, Pearson was not able to adequately establish that Custom Cleaners lost his pants (Finland, 2014).
Additionally, the fact that Custom Cleaners presented a pair of pants which had a tag number that matched his receipt worked against him (Fisher, AAA). Moreover, Pearson argued that Custom Cleaners advertising was negligent and misleads customers because they hung “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “Same Day Service” signs on their wall. In this regard, Pearson argument was that these signs denoted “an unconditional and unlimited warranty of satisfaction to the customer as determined solely by the customer, without Edgar to the facts or to any notion of reasonableness” (Finland, 2014).
The trial court did not accept Person’s view based on case law that established that a claim of a negligent business practice is based on how a rational consumer views and understand the practice (Finland, 2014). Person’s view of what the signs promised him was irrational, so he could not prove negligence on Custom Cleaners’ part Ethical Issues Both cases involved a matter of honesty: McDonald’s deliberately gave their customers a product that was unsafe and Custom Cleaners presented information to their customers that was not clarified. In the Libeled v.
McDonald’s case, the ethical issue was the fact that McDonald’s knowingly served coffee that was hazardous to their customers in order to maximize its taste (Cain, 2007). McDonald’s disregarded their customers’ safety by choosing to serve coffee at scalding temperatures because it was recommended that the taste was optimal at that temperature (Cain, 2007). In regard to the issue of ethics, an organization is responsible for maintaining a reasonable balance between societal and economic performance when some of their customers’ rights or benefits will be ignored and some will be enhanced (Hosier, 201 1, p. ). Based on the testimony of McDonald’s executives, it seems that McDonald’s chose to totally ignore their customer’s rights in order to increase their economic performance. This ethical issue was the same as the legal sessile in that on both fronts; it is a display Of McDonald’s dishonesty and negligence. In the Pearson case the ethical issue was that a business should not present a claim that they are not able to meet because people may be misled. It is evident that Pearson had an unreasonable interpretation of the signs that appeared on Custom Cleaner’s wall.
However, evidently, there are people ho would incorrectly define the signs and believe that Custom Cleaners was dishonest. Business owners should also take ethical duties into consideration when establishing their business; one of these duties is honesty (Hosier, 201 1, p. 89). Through this consideration, Custom Cleaners could assess their business and its displays in order to ensure that they are consistent with their ethical duties. Consequently, they may have had consideration for a person that would misinterpret their guarantee of satisfaction and same day service.
That person, like Pearson, would question Custom Cleaner’s honesty if they id not get what they believed was a desirable outcome. This ethical issue, like in the Libeled v. McDonald’s case, is consistent with the legal issues. Additionally, both cases involved an ethical issue of justice. In the Libeled case, she was burned by coffee that she bought to drink (Cain, 2007). This coffee left her permanently scarred and incapacitated for two years (Cain, 2007). This injury also caused Libeled to incur expenses, which she tried to get McDonald’s to pay (Cain, 2007). This payment would have satisfied her desire for justice.
However, McDonald’s was non-responsive and dismissive o she was compelled to file suit (Cain, 2007). On the other hand, in the Pearson case, a pair of his pants were lost and this was not the first time (Fisher, AAA). Custom Cleaners offered to give Pearson several different amounts of money, but his desire for justice was not satisfied (Fisher, AAA). Therefore, he filed a suit for an amount that he believed was repayment for his loss, and “emotional and mental distress” (Fisher, AAA). The ethical issue of justice is consistent with the legal issues for each case they went to trial to bring justice to the wronged parties.
Frivolous or Not Both of these cases have been deemed frivolous and the media continues to perpetuate this belief, but research proves otherwise. The popular belief that the Pearson v. Custom Cleaners case was frivolous is correct, but the Libeled v. McDonald’s case was not frivolous. Both cases involved a product/ service liability on the part of the business, but, in the Pearson case, an effort was made on the part of Custom Cleaners to try to recuperate damages for the loss before suit was filed (Fisher, AAA).
McDonald’s blatantly disregarded Libel’s request for payment of her medical expenses and had no intention of compensating her (Cain, AAA). Libeled did not intend on filing suit against McDonald’s, she was just requesting payment of medical bills. When Libeled felt like she had no other options, she was forced to take McDonald’s to court (Cain, 2007). In addition, the Libeled case was not frivolous because McDonald’s was proven to be dishonest, negligent, and liable for her injuries by law (Cain, 2007). Therefore, Libeled was entitled to receive damages.
Pearson, on the other hand, had no basis to support claims he was making in court (Finland, 2014). He was not able to prove by law that Custom Cleaners was fraudulent, negligent or, even, that they lost his pants (Fisher, AAA). Lastly, the Libeled v. McDonald’s case was not frivolous because Libeled did not go into court requesting a large amount of money; Libeled was only requesting payment for her medical expenses (Cain, 2007). On the other hand, Pearson came into court requesting $65 million, which was not logically comparable to the loss he suffered (Fisher, AAA).
Advice for the Future Regardless of the issue of being frivolous or not, both cases involved business owners that did not take all the precautions necessary to avoid a lawsuit. Would advise both McDonald’s and Custom Cleaners to be honest with their customers. McDonald’s should appropriately label their coffee to let customers know that it is extremely hot, so that customers know what they are getting. This would enable them to avoid any product liability resulting from product defects or implied warranty breaches.
Custom Cleaners should add explanations to their signs, so they are not held liable for negligent or fraudulent advertising. In addition, Custom Cleaners should post a sign with their policy on what happens if a garment is lost. This would ensure that a customer knows what to expect if a loss occurs. Furthermore, I would advise McDonald’s to lower the temperature of their fee to avoid future suits. McDonald’s could also give customers the opportunity to select their coffee temperature. Instead of just giving excessively hot coffee, they should provide different temperature options to their customers.
This would allow customers who want excessively hot coffee to have it, while those who do not can choose reasonably hot coffee. Would also recommend that McDonald’s be more responsive to their consumers. Had McDonald’s been responsive to Libeled when she contacted them, they could have avoided a lawsuit (Cain, 2007). Lastly, McDonald’s should show more care and concern for their consumers. Art of the reason that the jury decided in favor of Libeled was due to McDonald’s nonchalant attitude during the trial (Girlie, 1994).
Conclusion In conclusion, consumers purchase products and use services with the expectation that these products and/or services will be as advertised without injury (Subtask, Brenna and Browne, 2014, p. 187). If products and/or services do not meet expectation and/or cause injury, then a company can be held liable for violating product and service liability laws (Subtask, Brenna, and Browne, 2014, p. 187). In this paper, an examination was done of two popular lawsuits that were considered to be frivolous – Libeled v. McDonald’s and Pearson v. Custom Cleaners.