The McDonald’s Broken Toilet Case

Plaintiffs certainly have high expectations for what McDonald’s should “know” in civil litigation these days. Back in the early 1990s, in the infamous Stella Liebeck McDonald’s hot coffee case, the plaintiff asserted that the fast food chain should have known that the beverage could cause serious harm to a person who did not appreciate the dangers that steaming hot drinks perched in laps could inflict. Now, just last week, an Illinois woman sued McDonald’s based on her claim that the restaurant should have known that a toilet located in its restroom was dangerous.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Plaintiff Cherry Hardie has filed a lawsuit against a Chicago-area McDonald’s after allegedly suffering injuries to her left arm and shoulder after the toilet upon which she sat broke underneath her. She has asked for damages exceeding $30,000.00 and claims to have suffered a “shock to her nervous system” and become disabled.

Now, if we were the lawyers taking this Plaintiff’s deposition, we would have a few interesting questions for her. First, we might ask why she thought it was okay to sit down in the first place, given the cleanliness of most fast food chain restaurant restrooms we’ve seen of late. Assumption of the risk, indeed. Next, we might ask what kind of notice she believed the restaurant may have had that a solid piece of commercial-grade porcelain might collapse. Finally, since Ms. Hardie claims she suffered severe, disabling personal injuries as a result of the mishap, we would ask about any prior personal injury suits. In fact, during our cursory online search for a copy of her complaint in this matter, we stumbled across this prior suit. Is it possible that the pro se Cherry Hardie in that prior Illinois lawsuit is the same woman now claiming to be victimized by the McDonald’s toilet? And what injuries was she claiming in this prior suit?

Cynical? Perhaps. But an important issue to explore nonetheless.

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