A Clovis woman who sued McDonald's for negligence after hot coffee spilled on her lap and burned her will ask a Fresno County Superior Court jury to determine her damages, her lawyer said Thursday.
Fresno attorney Nicholas "Butch" Wagner, who represents 74-year-old Joan Fino, said settlement talks between her and McDonald's ended Thursday without an agreement.
Because the discussions were confidential, Wagner said he could not reveal how much money McDonald's had offered to end the lawsuit. He said Fino will present her case to a Fresno jury next year.
Fino sued McDonald's in Fresno County Superior Court "in excess of $2 million," contending she suffered second-degree burns to her groin area after coffee spilled on her lap at the drive-up window of McDonald's in Clovis at Alluvial and Temperance avenues in August 2012.
Her case has captured some national attention. Wagner said he and Fino will be guests Friday of Neil Cavuto on the Fox News Channel in New York.
A lawyer for McDonald's has declined to comment. In its defense, McDonald's puts a warning -- in both English and Spanish -- on its coffee cup that says: "Caution Handle with Care I'm Hot."
Fino's case is similar to one that happened in 1992, when a cup of McDonald's coffee spilled on 79-year-old Stella Liebeck in Alburquerque, N.M. Liebeck, who suffered third-degree burns and was hospitalized, sued McDonald's and won big -- a jury awarded her $2.9 million.
Liebeck later became an instant celebrity, but for the wrong reason: late-night talk-show hosts, comedians, sitcom writers and political pundits accused her of filing a frivolous lawsuit.
Some politicians sought reforms in the legal system, hoping to cap multimillion-dollar verdicts. The trial judge reduced Liebeck's jury award to about $650,000 before both sides settled for a confidential amount.
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