Hot coffee spill in McDonald's drive-thru. $145K. San Diego County.


Yes, this really is another McDonald's hot-coffee case (the famous case was back in 1994). Plaintiff won against the owner-operator of the McDonald's restaurant.

The Case

  • Case Name: Ortiz v. McDonald's
  • Court and Case Number: San Diego Superior Court / 37-2018-00014613-CU-PL-CTL
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, October 23, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, March 20, 2018
  • Type of Case: Negligence
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. John S. Meyer
  • Plaintiffs:
    Claudia Ortiz, 40, homemaker.
  • Defendants:
    Scarob, Inc.
    McDonald’s Corporation
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $145,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $108,750
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Verdict against Scarob, Inc. (the owner-operator). At the conclusion of plaintiff’s case, the court granted McDonald’s Corporation’s motion for non-suit.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 25% to plaintiff.
  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 9-3 negligence; 10-2 all others

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Rejali Law Firm, APC by Omid Rejali, San Diego.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law Offices of Christian B. Green by Ron Poirier, Sacramento.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):


  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):


  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):


  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):


Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff received second-degree burns when coffee spilled on her at the drive-through of a San Diego McDonald's. The restaurant was owned and operated by defendant Scarob, Inc.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Negligence: that the lid on the medium size cup of coffee plaintiff ordered through the drive-through was not securely fastened by the employee prior to handing it to plaintiff.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That there was no evidence that the lid on the cup was loose. That plaintiff was negligent in the handling of the coffee cup after she received it from the employee at the drive through restaurant. As to injury, that plaintiff's scarring was very minimal.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff received second degree burns to her groin area. The injuries left scarring.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: None.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: None.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: February 2019: $50,000. Not accepted by defendant.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: August 2019: $50,000. Not accepted by plaintiff.

Additional Notes

Per defense counsel:

Plaintiff's attorney requested $545,475 from the jury.