En esta ocasión informaremos de un caso de fuera de nuestras fronteras, más concretamente en Nuevo Méjico, EEUU. Nos referimos al caso de Doña Stella Liebeck contra McDonald´s, También conocido como el caso del café de McDonald´s y la demanda del café caliente
En 27 de febrero de 1992, Doña Stella Liebeck, una mujer de 79 años de Albuquerque, Nuevo México, acompañaba como copiloto a su nieto en dirección a un restaurante McDonald´s. Se acercaron a la ventanilla del McAuto y pidió una taza de café. Su nieto aparcó para que su abuela pudiera echar el azúcar a su café, por lo que nuestra protagonista puso la taza entre sus rodillas y tiró de la tapa de la taza de cartón. En el proceso ocurrió la desgracia, la mujer derramó el café, que se encontraba a unos 88º C, sobre su regazo, sus pantalones de algodón absorbieron el café y lo sostuvieron contra su piel, escaldando sus muslos, nalgas e ingle.
Doña Stella fue llevada al hospital, donde se determinó que había sufrido quemaduras de tercer grado en el 6% de su piel y quemaduras menores en más del 16%, permaneciendo en el hospital durante ocho días mientras se sometía a un injerto de piel. Durante este período, perdió 9 kg, casi el 20% de su masa corporal, pasando a pesar 38 kg. Precisó atención durante tres semanas, y sufrió una desfiguración permanente y estuvo discapacitada durante dos años.
Pero, Alguien tendría la culpa, ¿no? Aunque fuera una mínima parte McDonald´s era responsable, y en dicha proporción deberían haber sufragado los gastos médicos y lesiones, pero ¿Era culpable de verdad? ¿Había cometido alguna infracción la cadena? ¿o era culpa de la abuela?. En definitiva, el culpable paga. Veamos como fue el juicio y qué fue lo que decidió el Tribunal del distrito de Nuevo Méjico.
Los abogados de Stella descubrieron que McDonald’s requería a sus restaurantes mantener el café de 82 a 88 ° C, y a esas temperaturas el café causaría una quemadura de tercer grado en 2 o 7 segundos. Éste abogado argumentó que el café nunca debería servirse a más de 60 ° C como tantos otros establecimientos, solo bajando la temperatura a 71 ° C  aumentaría en 20 segundos el tiempo para que el café produzca una quemadura. Los abogados de nuestra protagonista argumentaron que estos segundos adicionales podrían proporcionar el tiempo adecuado para eliminar el café de la piel expuesta, evitando así muchas quemaduras.
Otros documentos obtenidos de McDonald’s demostraron que entre 1982 y 1992 la compañía había recibido más de 700 informes de personas quemadas con café de McDonald’s en diversos grados de severidad, y aun así la empresa no evaluó sus prácticas, aunque admitió que si cualquiera bebiera ese café recién servido se quemaría la boca y la garganta.
Finalmente, uno de los famosos jurados populares de los EEUU sentenciaron que se aplicaban los principios de negligencia corporativa y encontró que McDonald’s era un 80% responsable del incidente y Stella tenía solo un 20% de culpa; recibiendo nuestra anciana 160.000 $ en daños compensatorios y 2,7 millones de dólares en daños punitivos, por lo que nuestra protagonista pasó a ser millonaria, y seguro que el incidente le pareció menos grave con todo ese dinero en el bolsillo.
Está claro que la cifra es una locura si tenemos en cuenta lo que fue, por lo visto los miembros del jurado llegaron a esta cifra por los ingresos de café de uno o dos días, que fueron de aproximadamente $ 1.35 millones por día, lo cual tiene cierto sentido. Esto me hace plantearme la cantidad de dinero que ingresa McDonald`s en un solo día exclusivamente en café y que si hubiera demandado a “cafetería Lola” la indemnización no habría sido tan suculenta.

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