The family of Olivia Caraballo has scored a massive victory in court against a Florida McDonald’s. On July 19, Caraballo, who was severely burned by a scolding hot chicken McNugget in 2019, was awarded a whopping $800,000 in damages for the incident, according to CBS News.
At the time of injury, Caraballo was four years old when her mother purchased the steaming chicken nuggets from a drive-thru at a McDonald’s restaurant in Tamarac, Florida.
Initially, the youngster’s mom, Philana Holmes, pleaded with the court to award her now 8-year-old daughter $15 million in damages. Still, after deliberating for over an hour Wednesday, jurors settled on the amount above. The family will receive $400,000 in damages that they endured over the past four years and $400,000 to cover future expenses related to the incident. The check will be issued by McDonald’s franchise operator Upchurch Foods.
“I’m actually just happy that they listened to Olivia’s voice and the jury was able to decide a fair judgment,” Holmes told reporters outside the courtroom, according to the report. “I’m happy with that. I honestly had no expectations, so this is more than fair for me.”
On July 18, Holmes took to the stand with an emotional testimony detailing the pain her daughter endured when the scolding McNugget burned her.
Holmes had just purchased Happy Meals for her son and daughter when the incident occurred in 2019. As she pulled away from the McDonald’s drive-thru window, Holmes heard her daughter yell in pain when a nugget fell on the side of her leg. She pulled into a parking lot to find the chicken nugget jammed between Olivia’s thigh and the seat belt. The young girl suffered second-degree burns from the incident.
According to the report, initially, McDonald’s argued that they had followed standard protocol on the day of the incident. Under the law, the restaurant is required to serve the food hot enough to prevent salmonella poisoning. Still, lawyers for the family argued that the food temperature was above 200 degrees. The fast food chain representatives claimed that the food was no more than 160 degrees.
The Daily Mail noted that jurors spent hours reviewing photos of Caraballo’s second-degree burn and listening to the audio of her painful screams from the day of the incident. Holmes testified that the burn turned red and sore in the weeks following the incident. She said her daughter would have accidents on herself to avoid touching the scar with her clothing. Lawyers for the young child argued that her physical pain turned into emotional suffering.
“It’s not perfection. It’s not a badge of honor to have a scar as a woman. It’s not fair at all, but that’s the society we live in,” the family’s lawyer Keyla Smith argued in court.
Holmes echoed a similar statement during her testimony. The mother of two claimed that her daughter often comments about getting the scar removed.
Despite having a bit of discomfort, the brave 8-year-old has carried on living a normal life. Caraballo is back in school and will “hopefully” get the scar “revised soon,” Holmes added.
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