Complete the answers to the seven questions at the end of Case 23, “McDonald’s: The Coffee Spill Heard “Round the World”, pp. 676-679.
1. What are the major issues in the Liebeck case and in the following incidents? Was the lawsuit “frivolous” as some people thought, or serious business?
2. What are McDonald’s social (economic, legal, and ethical) responsibilities toward consumers in the Liebeck case and the other cases? What are consumers’ responsibilities when they buy a product such as hot coffee or hot hamburgers? How does a company give consumers what they want and yet protect them at the same time?
3. What are the arguments supporting McDonald’s position in the Liebeck case? What are the arguments supporting Liebeck’s position?
4. If you had been a juror in the Liebeck case, which position would you most likely have supported? Why? What if you had been a juror in the pickle burn case?
5. What are the similarities and differences between the coffee burn case and the pickle burn case? Does one represent a more serious threat to consumer harm? What should McDonald’s, and other fast food restaurants, do about hot food, such as hamburgers, when consumers are injured?
6. What is your assessment of the “Stella Awards?” Is this making light of a serious problem?
7. What are the implications of these cases for future product-related lawsuits? Do we now live in a society where businesses are responsible for customers’ accidents or carelessness in using products? We live in a society that is growing older. Does this fact place a special responsibility on merchants who sell products to senior citizens?