By Angela Frewin
SOLICITORS co-ordinating a potential group action against McDonald's from customers who claim to have suffered severe burns from spilled hot drinks have welcomed an out-of-court settlement made to one of the victims.
Larraine Coeshott of Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire, accepted a £4,000 settlement from the fast-food giant.
She had suffered from blistering and a permanent red mark on her leg after another customer spilled a cup of tea into her lap in a Norfolk branch.
Adrienne DeVos, a solicitor at Slater Heelis in Sale, Cheshire, said that while the case set no legal precedent, its success and the willingness of McDonald's to settle was "helpful and encouraging".
Her firm, along with another, Palmer Wheeldon in London, is co-ordinating more than 20 Legal Aid scald cases (see Caterer, 18 December 1997, page 8; 26 March, page 14; and 30 April, page 11).
Coeshott's solicitor Michael Ballinger commented: "There are cases being brought against McDonald's on behalf of small children involving much more serious injuries than Larraine suffered.
"If this case had gone to court it could have established a very good precedent, but McDonald's made an offer we couldn't refuse. Other claimants will be able to take some encouragement from it." Coeshott said she was pleased to have won the "maximum award for my degree of burns".
A spokesman for McDonald's would not comment on the settlement, but said: "McDonald's takes the welfare of its customers very seriously. There is a trained first-aider on every shift in our restaurants."