Santa Barbara Attorneys Deliver A Scalding $2.6M Victory

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
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A confidentiality agreement precludes disclosure of the parties in this case. The incident occurred on July 3, 2010 at a popular national chain restaurant in Santa Barbara, California. After a cup of hot coffee was placed within reach of Baby M., she grabbed the cup, spilling the coffee onto her chest and neck causing severe burns.

Baby M.’s mother ran to the restaurant’s bathroom with Baby M., removed the coffee soaked clothing and saw Baby M.’s burned skin. The family rushed Baby M. to the emergency room at Cottage Hospital.

The lawsuit alleged that a server negligently placed a cup of hot coffee within reach of Baby M. The insurance company for the restaurant contended that the parents were at fault for inattention to Baby M. and the environment. The server stated that he saw the parents place the coffee in front of the infant.

Throughout the hotly contested litigation, attorneys’ Steven Andrade, Andrade Law Offices and Juan Huerta, The Law Offices of Juan Huerta, wanted to ensure that the award would cover the needs of Baby M. for the rest of her life and fully compensate her parents for their emotional distress.

Both attorneys and the family were delighted with the settlement of more than $2.6M. Baby M. will receive more than $1.8M over the course of her lifetime to ensure she receives proper medical care, counseling for her emotional well-being, and to finance her college education.

The position of Andrade Law Offices and the Law Office of Juan Huerta is that restaurants have a responsibility to properly train their employees with respect to safety practices when serving the public. The lawsuit uncovered several failure points in the company’s training programs and policies relating to maintenance of coffee temperature records, point of sale records and preservation of video surveillance. As a result of this case, and to their credit, the restaurant implemented more stringent training programs and policies for all of their restaurants to ensure the safety of their customers.

Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to severe burns from scalding liquid because they have thinner skin than adults resulting in deeper burns from the same exposure. Further, the same cup of spilled coffee will burn a much larger portion of a small child’s body than an adult’s body. Small children have less perception of danger and are unable to escape a burning situation on their own. According to Children Fire and Burn Prevention Programs, an estimated 65% of children ages 4 and under who are hospitalized for burns are treated for scald burns.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

From now on, if you walk into a restaurant with a child, sorry, but you are not getting any hot drinks. Nothing cold either, wouldn't want you to sue because baby got a cold. You will be served tepid beverages in paper cups - wouldn't want to risk a lawsuit in case baby got hold of the glass and cut herself.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
March 26, 2013 at 10:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Wow, what a deal, from old ladies to babies, if you spill a beverage of any temperature especially a hot beverage on yourself or your child, due to stupidity, you could make a couple Million in pay-back, I got to get on that band wagon!

dou4now (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 5:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

So the next time you buy a cup of coffee in a restaurant and it cost you $6, you'll know why.

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 5:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

But I will say that if the restaurant thought it was right, they could have let it go to a jury. They chose not to take the chance.

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 5:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Obviously there is some blame on the server's part and perhaps the restaurant if they did not in fact train employees on safety requirements, but since when did a parent's responsibility become zero? I'd say, yes, find an amount against the restaurant and server but also find a similar amount against the adult who put the baby in harm's way.

TrailHacker (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 6:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Too bad there weren't any surveillance cameras to record the incident. This sounds like one of those things where you had to be there to really know what happened.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 9:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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