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$2.6M Settlement for Baby Burned by Hot Coffee

Restaurants have a responsibility to properly train their employees with respect to safety practices when serving the public

A settlement of $2.6 million was reached for ten-month old “Baby M.” who suffered pain and scarring on her chest and neck from a hot coffee that a restaurant employee placed within the infant's reach.

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.

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.

Throughout the hotly contested litigation, attorneys’ Steven R. Andrade of Andrade Law Offices in Santa Barbara, CA -- a member of The National Trial Lawyers -- and attorney Juan Huerta of Santa Barbara, 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 $2.6 million. 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.

A confidentiality agreement precludes disclosure of the parties in this case. The case settled in January 2013.

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