Frank Sutton bought a McDonald’s fried chicken sandwich at the Daniel Boone Truck Stop in Duffield, Virginia, on August 8, 2005. When he bit into the sandwich, Sutton said, “the grease from the inside of the chicken sandwich spread out all over my bottom lip, my top lip, down onto my chin.” Sutton immediately dropped the sandwich. His wife dabbed his face with ice as blisters formed on his lips. Sutton reported the incident to a pair of McDonald’s employees, one of whom reportedly said, “This is what happens to the sandwiches when they aren’t drained completely.” Sutton’s lips continued to bother him. He went to a doctor who provided lip balm and told Sutton to avoid excessive exposure to sunlight. Sutton thereafter sued McDonald’s and the local franchise owner, Roth, for negligence, among other claims. At trial in a Virginia federal district court, Sutton testified that he thought the sandwich was “negligently prepared” or “defective,” but the judge rejected Sutton’s negligence claim reasoning that Sutton failed to establish the standard of care that Virginia product liability law requires. (Using either federal standards, state standards, or reasonable consumer expectations, Sutton was required to demonstrate a standard of care that was breached leading to his injury.) The judge also ruled that Sutton was contributorily negligent (contributed to his own harm) by failing to “exercise reasonable care to see that he wasn’t eating something too hot.” Sutton appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
a. In your judgment, was McDonald’s negligent in this episode? Explain.
b. Did Sutton contribute to his own injury? Explain.

  • CreatedOctober 02, 2015
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