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Personal Injury Lawsuit for Hot Apple Cider Burns

March 11, 2014 | Posted In Personal Injury/Negligence |

In the colder temperatures of fall and winter, hot beverages make for better days, providing a little bit of warmth and comfort when everyone is bundled up. But an overheated beverage can be dangerous, and now, a New Jersey woman has filed a lawsuit against Dunkin Donuts, claiming that their failure to provide a reasonably temperate beverage caused her to suffer severe burns, and shell out thousands of dollars in medical care, personal injury attorneys in New Jersey report. 

Jennifer Fragoso, of Essex County, filed a personal injury lawsuit against Dunkin Donuts and Anju Donuts, the owner of the local store where she purchased the two-hot cider. In Fragoso v. Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. d/b/a Dunkin Donuts, she charges the business and the individual location with negligence, breach of express and implied warranties, and product liability, and claims that the company put her in danger by heating her drink to excess. 

Fragoso, now 24, was sitting in her parked car outside of the Belleville Dunkin Donuts when the lid on her hot apple cider came loose, and she spilled the drink onto her lap in September 2012. She claims to have suffered second and third degree burns as a result of the spill, and spent several months undergoing treatment and therapy at the Burn Center of St. Barnabas. Even after many rounds of treatment, Fragoso still has unsightly, permanent scarring across her upper thighs, and she may have to have surgery in the future. 

In her lawsuit, Fragoso does not lay blame on the company for failing to provide adequate warnings, or for giving her a shoddy cup or lid, but rather for failing to ensure that the beverage was just right. While she obviously wanted a hot cider, she claims that the degree to which her drink was heated was “beyond industry standards to the point where patrons could not safely consume it because it was not reasonably fit, suitable, or safe for its intended purpose.” 

Fragoso’s lawsuit is similar to the hot coffee lawsuit filed against McDonald’s in 1994, which was a groundbreaking case for tort reform, according to personal injury attorneys in New Jersey. In Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, a jury in New Mexico awarded an initial $2 million to a woman who suffered severe burns after spilling a hot coffee on her lap. The evidence from that case determined that McDonald’s standard serving temperature for its’ coffee ranged from 180-190 degrees—temperatures at which liquids become dangerous, and capable of causing third degree burns. Dunkin Donuts has yet to confirm the temperature to which they traditionally heat their beverages, but Fragoso’s lawsuit contends that a reasonably heated beverage would not have been so dangerous had it been spilled.

At Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, our New Jersey personal injury attorneys represent anyone who has been injured as a result of another’s negligence, whether it is a company or individual. If you have suffered an injury, contact an HCK attorney for a consultation about your case. 

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