McDonald's, franchise owner liable for girl's burns from hot Chicken McNugget, jury says

Split verdict finds McDonald's failed to put warnings on food, but not negligent
McDonald's Chicken McNuggets
Posted at 3:10 PM, May 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-11 15:24:58-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A South Florida jury returned a split verdict Thursday in a lawsuit alleging hot chicken nuggets from an area McDonald's left a 4-year-old girl severely burned.

The Broward County jury found fault with McDonald's and the franchise owner for the second-degree burns that the girl suffered while eating Chicken McNuggets at a McDonald's in Tamarac in 2019.

Her parents, Philana Holmes and Humberto Caraballo Estevez, sued the popular fast-food restaurant and franchise owner Upchurch Foods Inc. after the girl suffered second-degree burns from the "unreasonably and dangerously" hot Chicken McNuggets in her Happy Meal, the lawsuit alleged.

One of the nuggets got stuck in the girl's car seat and burned her leg, the lawsuit claimed.

Philana Holmes receives Happy Meals with hot Chicken McNuggets that burned 4-year-old daughter in 2019
Philana Holmes receives two Happy Meals from the drive-thru of a McDonald's in Tamarac in 2019. A lawsuit later claimed her 4-year-old daughter suffered second-degree burns from the hot chicken nuggets.

Lawyers for McDonald's and Upchurch Foods argued they weren't at fault, but the jury disagreed.

The jury found that McDonald's and Upchurch Foods failed to put warnings on the food, leading to the girl's injury, but weren't negligent.



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McDonald's provided a statement to NBC affiliate WTVJ disagreeing with the decision.

"We take every complaint seriously and certainly those that involve the safety of our food and the experiences of our customers," the statement said. "Together with our franchisees, for nearly 70 years, we have consistently served customers safe, high-quality food using strict policies and procedures. This was an unfortunate incident, but we respectfully disagree with the verdict. Our customers should continue to rely on McDonald's to follow policies and procedures for serving Chicken McNuggets safely."

Holmes spoke to WTVJ after the verdict.

Philana Holmes speaks to WTVJ after verdict in Chicken McNugget lawsuit, May 11, 2023
Philana Holmes says she's "thankful" that McDonald's and a South Florida franchise owner has been found liable for failing to put a warning label on hot Chicken McNuggets, contributing to her daughter's second-degree burns, May 11, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"Just thankful that Olivia's voice was heard through great lawyers, and I'm glad McDonald's now has to acknowledge there's a warning that needs to be put out there," Holmes said. "Just thankful."

Attorneys for the parents said another trial will determine how much McDonald's and Upchurch Foods will have to pay in damages.