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Saturday, 14 April, 2001, 08:23 GMT 09:23 UK
McDonald's pays over pickle
McDonald's restaurant
McDonald's: No admission of liability
By Malcolm Brabant

The McDonald's fast food chain has settled a lawsuit brought by an American woman who claimed she was disfigured by an extremely hot pickle.

Details of the deal are being kept secret, but court papers said it did not amount to an admission of liability on the part of McDonald's.

Veronica Martin filed a lawsuit claiming $110,000 damages for medical bills, lost wages and mental pain and anguish.

In 1994, the burger chain had to pay a customer $500,000 after a cup of coffee fell into a woman's lap and scalded her.

Husband deprived

Veronica Martin claimed she suffered a second degree burn on her chin after a scalding hot pickle fell from one of several small hamburgers which she and her husband bought from a McDonald's restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee.

McDonald's burger and chips
Will it carry a new warning about hot pickles?
Her husband also sued for $15,000, saying that he had been deprived of the services and companionship of his wife.

The lawsuit contended that the pickle was defective and unreasonably dangerous to the customer.

In its rebuttal, McDonald's insisted its product was safe.

The court papers say the case was settled to avoid the time and expense of a trial and was in no way an admission of liability on the part of McDonald's.

The fast food giant has been burned in the courts before.

Pickle warning

It was once ordered to pay $2.7m dollars to a woman who spilled a cup of coffee into her lap.

The damages were reduced on appeal to $500,000.

But the implications of the case terrified businesses so much that they began to label their goods with warnings that are blindingly obvious.

Most take-away coffee cups now bear a cautionary sign saying "hot coffee can be dangerous".

What is not clear is whether McDonald's will now advise people that one of the consequences of not eating their hamburgers properly is that their spouses may be deprived of services and companionship.

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