Click To Call

Email Us For A Free Consultation

No fees for inquiries

(Free consultations are available only in personal injury cases
& it costs nothing to inquire). All inquiries are confidential.
Read our disclaimer

HKQ Firm News

Hot Coffee Movie

The Bill of Rights is sacred, and so is your family’s safety. If someone causes harm to you or your loved one, the Seventh Amendment guarantee your right to hold them accountable before a jury of your peers in a court of justice.

Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old mother and grandmother from Albuquerque, N.M., was badly injured by a company’s deliberate decision to put profitsahead of people’s safety. She was the unfortunate victim in the infamous McDonald’s coffee case.

Incredibly, large corporations chose to add insult to Stella’s injuries by deliberately distorting the truth. In fact, for decades Wall Street corporationsand the insurance industry have been trying to undermine our jury system and limit your constitutional rights through various proposals known collectively as “tort reform.” That is why they spent so much time, money and effort to mislead you about the injuries to Stella and more than 700 of McDonald’s unsuspecting patrons.

Now, a new HBO documentary, “Hot Coffee,” blows the lid off the McDonald’s coffee case by exposing what really happened and exploring the many ways that Wall Street is trying to take away your rights. If you care about your family’s safety or our precious Constitutional rights, I urge you tosee this movie with your friends and families.

What the Critics Are Saying About “Hot Coffee”

  • “Eye-opening indictment of the way big business spins the media.” — Variety

  • “Entertaining, informative … vividly illuminating.” • Hollywood Reporter

Where Can I Find “Hot Coffee”?

You can find out more about “Hot Coffee” at

The official movie trailer/preview can be found online

The real story about the McDonald’s hot coffee case can be found online at

You can rent “Hot Coffee” through Netflix and other move-rental companies, or you can purchase it at online retailers such as

The Real Facts of the McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case

Here are some of the facts about the lawsuit filed by Stella Liebeck, the 79-year-old Albuquerque, N.M., woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald’s:

  • Stella worked full-time, was active and did not suffer from clumsy or failing coordination before the accident.
  • She was not an invalid and she was in good health.
  • Stella was not driving the car. Her adult nephew was driving.
  • Stella was a passenger in the front seat.
  • After picking up food and coffee at a McDonald’s drive-through, her nephew pulled into a parking space and stopped the car so they could fix their coffees.
  • Stella did not hold the coffee in her crotch area. Like many of us would have done, she positioned the coffee between her knees and held the cup with her left hand while she tried to remove the lid with her right hand.
  • Contrary to in misinformation disseminated by paid PR agencies, late-night talk show hosts and others who tried to downplay Stella’s injuries, she suffered third-degree burns – the worst kind – to her groin, buttocks and legs, and had to undergo multiple painful skin-graft surgeries. The film “Hot Coffee” shows numerous shocking and gruesome pictures of her injuries.

Hot liquid in the range of 180 degrees or hotter, if it is in contact with your skin for more than a few seconds, will produce very serious burns. If you’re lucky, it will produce second-degree burns. If you’re not so lucky, it will produce third-degree full thickness burns requiring skin grafts and surgery.” – Dr. David Arredondo, Stella Liebeck’s Surgeon¨

According to the McDonald’s franchise operations manual (at the time of the incident) coffee must be brewed at a “holding temperature” of 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • According to surgeon David Arredondo, who performed Stella’s surgery, any liquid 180 degrees or hotter that makes contact with your skin will produce second-degree or third-degree burns.
  • Stella had no intention of suing McDonald’s. She sent a letter asking McDonald to pay her medical bills, which totaled $10,000.
  • McDonald’s offered her $800.
  • Between February 1983 and March 1992, McDonald’s admitted receiving more than 700 complaints about burns from hot beverages, but refused to change its manual.
  • McDonald’s Quality Assurance Group Manager Chris Appleton, when asked about the history of burn complaints, replied, “I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m glad the number’s not higher … I’m really pleased it’s not more than that.”
  • The jury awarded Stella $160,000 in compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages to punish the fast-food corporation for its willful negligence. The punitive damage figure was based on two days’ worth of McDonald’s coffee sales.
  • Judge Robert H. Scott, the trial judge in the case, subsequently reduced the award of punitive damages from $2.7 million to $480,000, but characterized McDonald’s conduct as “willful, wanton, and reckless behavior.”

About HKQ Law

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Report, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm across multiple categories in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



As Hourigan, Kluger and Quinn addresses the concerns raised by COVID-19, the health and safety of our clients, employees and friends of the firm remain our top priority.

These are very difficult and scary times and we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and symptom free. We recognize that so many of you are understandably anxious about your health, the economic impact of this pandemic and all of the consequences of social isolation.

We also recognize that many of you are anxious about how the coronavirus is impacting the Court systems, our firm and your cases. Although all of our offices are closed, our firm has remained fully operational and we have initiated procedures that allow all of our attorneys and staff to work remotely from their homes. Each of us and our staff will respond to any emails and calls about your cases as quickly as possible.

Our Federal and State Courts have instituted significant changes in their calendars as a result of the coronavirus. Although most courthouses are closed to the public, and Hearings and Trials will be delayed for some time, there are matters that can proceed telephonically and by video. Despite these changes in the Court calendars, we are working diligently on your cases and are determined to do whatever we possibly can to assure an early and just recovery for you and your loved ones. Even under these difficult circumstances, we believe that "Nobody will work harder for you than we will."

With regard to new potential clients, we are not in a position to have an in-person new client meeting, but we will be conducting these initial meetings via phone. New potential clients should call us for a free telephone consultation at (570) 287-3000.


Back to Top