Girl awarded $800,000 after she got second-degree burns from a McDonald’s chicken nugget

20 July 2023, 11:15

Philana Holmes and her daughter Olivia Caraballo, 7, in court in Fort Lauderdale
Philana Holmes and her daughter Olivia Caraballo, 7, in court in Fort Lauderdale. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

A family from Florida have won $800,000 in damages from McDonald’s after her daughter received burns from a chicken nugget.

The hot McNugget fell into the lap of Philana Holmes’s daughter Olivia - causing second-degree burns, after her mum handed it to her in a box in their car in 2019.

After two hours of deliberations, a jury in the US awarded the family, $400,000 for the past four years and $400,000 in future damages.

Mrs Holmes told reporters outside: “I’m happy with that. I honestly had no expectations, so this is more than fair for me.”

“I’m actually just happy they listened to Olivia’s voice and she, the jury was able to decide a fair judgement, I’m happy with that.”

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Olivia was left with a scar on her inner thigh after she was given a box of ‘unreasonably and dangerously’ nuggets and she several in her child seat, with one of them burning her leg, causing scarring.

Olivia’s mother said she wasn’t warned that the food might be unusually hot. She said she pulled up in the car park nearby when her daughter began screaming in pain.

McDonald's and franchisee Upchurch Foods, argued during the trial they were not at fault, but the jury decided they failed to put warnings on the food and that led to the child's injury.

McDonald's was found not negligent for causing the burns.

In a famous case in 1994 a woman named Stella Liebeck was burned by a hot coffee from McDonald’s. The chain was ordered to pay out nearly $3m but a judge reduced the $2.7m award to $480,000, which he said was appropriate for the “willful, wanton, reckless” and “callous” behaviour by McDonald’s.

After the case McDonald’s coffee cups were forced to carry a warning label.