Cal student suing In N Out because coffee she spilled on herself was too hot
SFGate – A UC Berkeley graduate who was severely burned after spilling hot coffee on her lap filed a lawsuit Thursday against In-N-Out Burger claiming employees in Oakland refused to call an ambulance. Hedy Chen claims employees at the drive-through restaurant ignored her screams and repeated requests to call 911. Instead, she was given a pack of ice, which can exacerbate scarring, according to the suit filed in Alameda County Superior Court.
“What they were supposed to do was call 911 because the operators know that” ice is bad, said Kirk Boyd, her lawyer. “They said there is a policy of not calling 911. That policy violates their duty of care to customers.” Arnie Wensinger, the executive vice president for the Irvine-based chain, said he couldn’t comment on the lawsuit. “However, all In-N-Out Burger associates are authorized to assist our customers and to call 911 in emergency situations,” he told the Chronicle in an e-mail.
The case is reminiscent of a notorious 1992 case in which a New Mexico woman won a $2.7 million judgment against McDonald’s after she was burned by coffee. The Oakland incident occurred April 1, 2013, after Chen, who was a business student at UC Berkeley, picked up a friend at Oakland International Airport. It was around 10 p.m. when the two friends decided to stop at the In-N-Out drive-through window at 8300 Oakport St. in Oakland for coffee and a sandwich.
The suit alleges that the employee handed Chen, who was wearing shorts, an “excessively hot” paper cup with no protective sleeve. “It’s just scalding,” Boyd said. “She took it in her hand, but it was so hot she couldn’t hold onto it.” The coffee spilled onto Chen’s thighs and lap. The pain caused her to scream “call 911, call 911,” Boyd said. The worker refused, citing company policy. Employees finally handed her a bag of ice and told her to move her car out of the way despite her continued screams for help, Boyd said,
“Ice is a bad thing to give for burns. It exacerbates the wound and the scarring,” Boyd said. Meanwhile, “she’s got second-degree burns and all they are worried about is her moving her car so they could get to the next person in line.” Chen, whose friend eventually called 911, was treated for three days at the Bothin Burn Center at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco.
“It was second-degree burns,” Boyd said. “She still has scars to this day.”
Can’t say the blame isn’t shared here but most of it’s on In N Out.
First off, Chen’s gotta know that getting coffee from any non-coffee establishment is a big no-no. Coffee is either going to piping hot or lukewarm, no in between plus nobody goes to a burger place for coffee. You go for burgers and these burgers are popular so there is going to be a line (as always) out the ass to get them, so don’t come in here looking for your coffee to be served to you on a platter, and why are you getting coffee at 10 PM after you already got your friend at the airport? You’re home free, just drive home. You get the coffee so you can stay up later to get the asshole friend with a late arrival time. Lotta errors on her part.
That being said, I don’t think any fast food employee is given any education on how to treat burn victims nor are any required. Seems like the mistake this worker made is not giving her a sleeve for her coffee, which doesn’t surprise me because NO ONE GOES TO IN N OUT FOR COFFEE. Even McDonald’s is a stretch and they have had a marketing campaign for theirs. So really this guy just flat out didn’t know the 911 policy and asking the driver to pull to the side was probably in poor taste. That’s all I can see here.
P.S. Ice is bad for burns? This is news to me.