As hard as it may be to believe, there is such a thing as a legitimate personal injury/negligence claim that involves the plaintiff - in this case a child - being burned by hot coffee; The mere fact that an incident involves hot coffee doesn't inherently mean that the claim is without merit, or "frivolous."
By the same token, that a child was awarded money under these circumstances doesn't in and of itself constitute concrete proof that our jury system is too flawed.
Let me explain.
In the last few weeks, a Staten Island court returned a $600,000 judgment in favor of a child who was injured at a social function when a 40-cup coffee urn that was placed rather precariously placed, tipped over onto a child, causing the child to suffer severe second and third-degree burns to her pelvic area, and required her to spend 10 days in a special burn unit of a New York hospital. Unlike the infamous McDonald's hot coffee case, even the defendant in this case did not contend that the child had anything to do with the placement of the hot coffee.
(Interestingly, the facts of this case are not that different than this case involving a burn from hot soup that we handled.)
And here's why this award has no bearing on our view of New York juries:
Since the caterer's insurer failed to answer the complaint in a timely manner, the award was made by a referree - not a jury - following a hearing on damages.
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