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The BBC's Catherine Marston
"There could be as many as 40 people involved in the case"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 2 August, 2000, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
McDonald's sued over 'too hot' drinks
McDonald's has faced similar legal action in the US
Court action against the fast food chain McDonald's by customers who claim they were burned by the restaurant's hot drinks begins on Wednesday.

The case against the company in Manchester's High Court will argue that McDonald's knowingly served tea and coffee at dangerously high temperatures.

A total of 25 customers have so far taken the company to court in a joint action, five last year and 20 on Wednesday.

It is thought as many as 40 will eventually join the action, with further cases expected to be generated by the resulting publicity.

Lawyers for the customers claim that the company is breaking the Consumer Protection and Occupiers Liability Acts because its hot drinks are served at between 87 and 90 degrees.

Solicitor Adrienne de Vos, from Manchester law firm Slater Heelis Collier Littler, represents 12 customers.

"I know that some would say such drinks are meant to be hot and that people should simply take more care," she said.

Safety concerns

But "customers don't realise just how hot and dangerous these drinks are - they really don't appreciate the level of damage that can be caused," Ms de Vos said.

"McDonald's is an environment that attracts and caters for young children. By knowingly serving drinks at such dangerous temperatures they are being negligent and failing to exercise the duty of care that is every customers right."

But McDonald's said it was concerned about customers' safety and that its products were labelled with that in mind.

"All of our products, including drinks, are carefully prepared to precise specifications. All of our hot drinks are served in cups fitted with a lid and bearing the words "caution hot," the company said in a statement.

However, the company said it would not comment on the cases because of legal reasons.

"We will be examining the proceedings once issued and made available to us. However it will not be possible for us to discuss any individual cases."

McDonald's has suffered similar legal action in the US. A few years ago, it was ordered to pay a substantial amount to a customer who was scalded by its coffee.

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