20 Years Ago Today: Stella Liebeck Spills Her Coffee

“Oh, no!” you exclaim.  “Not another hot coffee post!”

But today is quite an anniversary.  Twenty years ago today, on February  27, 1992, the world’s most famous litigant, 79 year old Stella Lieback, ordered what would become the most famous cup of hot coffee in America.  It was in Albuquerque, New Mexico at a McDonald’s drive-thru located on Gibson Boulevard.  She was inside her grandson’s Ford Probe.  He drove from the drive-thru to a parking spot, where Ms. Liebeck, clad in jogging pants, placed the cup of coffee between her legs and then attempted to pry open the lid.  She somehow lost control and the coffee spilled into her lap.  She was attempting to add sweetener to the coffee.  The rest is history, which we need not repeat here.  However, if you are interested in doing a little historical reading, we recommend you check out our Stella Liebeck McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case FAQ file as well as our history of reporting on other hot coffee cases here.

(Oh, and to our pal Steve McConnell of the Drug and Device Law blog, please note that we made it through the entire post without a “It was twenty years ago today . . . .” Sgt. Pepper’s reference.

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