Atlanta woman receives $3M settlement after hot coffee spill at Dunkin' in Sugar Hill in 2021

The Dunkin' in Sugar Hill, Georgia.

An elderly woman from Atlanta has reached a $3 million settlement in a lawsuit against a local Dunkin' franchise after she suffered severe burns from a coffee spill, according to a press release. The incident occurred in the drive-thru of the Dunkin' on Nelson Brogdon Boulevard in Sugar Hill on Feb. 18, 2021.

According to her attorney, Morgan & Morgan attorney Benjamin Welch, the woman ordered the coffee in the drive-thru. After the employee handed her the coffee, the lid of the coffee cup came off, causing second- and third-degree burns to her thighs, groin, and abdomen. These injuries necessitated extensive skin grafts.

Welch commented on the case, saying, "America may run on Dunkin, but our client had to re-learn how to walk due to the severity of her burns. Her burns were so severe that she spent weeks in the burn unit at Grady Health and has had to entirely alter the way she lives her life. Walking still causes her pain, she can't go out in the sun, and she must apply creams and ointments to her burns several times a day."

The lawsuit alleged that the accident would not have occurred if the drive-thru employee had properly secured the lid on the coffee cup. Golden Donuts, LLC, the franchisee that operates the Dunkin' location, agreed to a $3 million settlement to compensate the woman for her injuries and the negative impact on her life.

The Dunkin' in Sugar Hill, Georgia. (FOX 5)

The victim incurred over $200,000 in medical bills and continues to struggle with day-to-day activities. At the time of the incident, she was 70 years old and had recently retired from a long-held position as a federal government employee.

John Morgan, the founder of Morgan & Morgan, stated, "One of the most famous lawsuits in American history centers around scalding coffee that caused severe burns. Yet restaurants still have failed to learn their lesson to prioritize customers' safety. We hope this settlement sends a message to all restaurants and franchisees: this isn't complicated; train your employees properly and prioritize customer safety."

This settlement draws parallels to the well-known Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants case, often referred to as the "hot coffee lawsuit." In that case, plaintiff Stella Liebeck suffered third-degree burns after accidentally spilling McDonald's coffee on herself. Despite misconceptions about the case, Liebeck was in the passenger seat, and the car was parked when the incident occurred. McDonald's had previously received numerous complaints about the temperature of their coffee and reported injuries.