Ontario woman says she was scarred by McDonald’s coffee
A quick stop for drinks at the McDonald’s drive-thru turned into a harrowing experience for one family.
After hearing a Canadian take McDonald’s to court over a hot coffee incident, Elizabeth Hatim shares her story of pain and frustration.
According to Hatim, on July 12, 2021, she was at a McDonald’s in Harmony and Taunton in Oshawa, Ontario.
Hatim and her family went to the drive-thru and ordered five drinks, including a small coffee with milk and sugar on the side.
“When we drove to the pick-up window to take our order, the young lady at the window handed the tray to my husband, the driver,” Hatim said.
“This employee put all four cold drinks in the drinks tray, which is only designed for four drinks. She put the hot coffee in the middle, diagonally between the four cold drinks, but that middle spot isn’t designed to hold a fifth drink,” she said.
They thought maybe the fifth cup was filled with milk because they had never received such an overloaded tray.
“We know from other fast food places that they sometimes get milk in a cup if you ask for it as an accompaniment,” Hatim said.
“My husband took the tray and handed it to me. At that moment, the hot coffee that wasn’t fixed on the tray ran down my legs,” Hatim said.
“My brain didn’t register it at first as it looked like an out-of-body experience. I could literally hear myself screaming in pain like the sound was coming from someone else,” she said.
“My scream was so loud that the employees standing in the drive-through window all stopped their work and looked over in horror to see what had happened… I was in such excruciating pain,” Hatim said.
Hatim says the staff did nothing to help her. The apologetic shift supervisor, who reportedly said the employee should have used a different drinks tray, gave them his business card and said they could report the incident later as the family was on their way to an appointment.
After the incident, she took pain medication for days and used cold compression to relieve the pain.
“I had a scar that I wanted to lighten with several products and treatments, but because it was getting too expensive I had to stop,” Hatim said.
According to Hatim, she has been in touch with McDonald’s about compensation, but her contact would “rarely” respond to calls or emails.
“When we finally got in touch with him … he referred to an incident that also happened to him at McDonald’s. He said he received little compensation. He went on to say that if I took legal action, I wouldn’t get much either,” Hatim said.
That deterred Hatim at the time. Since then, she has “suffered in silence, with a scar that will forever commemorate that terribly painful day,” says Hatim.
Now she is interested in taking legal action, calling her response “unacceptable”.
“McDonald’s clearly defined and wrote down its mission, values and ethical statements. But when an incident like mine happened, where were their beliefs and their values?”
“No one should have to experience what I experienced… My advice, no matter how big or small a situation, you are your own greatest advocate,” Hatim said.
We reached out to McDonald’s for comment and will update this story.
None of the allegations were proven in court.
In the US, legal precedent for a case like this includes the so-called infamous Liebeck v. McDonald’s restaurants hot coffee case, which received a storm of media attention in the US in 1994.