Family Sues Denny’s For Hot Coffee Spill, Makes Bank

$500,000 for Coffee Spill

$500,000 for Coffee Spill

If you’re looking for a way to earn some quick cash, there are a few options: you can go through your closets and find some old electronics to sell on Craigslist, you can pick up an extra shift from the food runner on Monday lunch and get an extra $15 or you can order some hot coffee at Denny’s and then spill it all over yourself and then sue those mother fuckers for serving you hot coffee.

A family in Upstate New York chose the third option and sued Denny’s when their 14-month old little girl spilled a cup of coffee on herself. The child suffered first and second-degree burns and the family gave evidence that stated the girl will need a lifetime of medical care. The case was settled out of court for $500,000, the family claiming that it was the negligence of the waitress that caused the accident because she should not have put the cup of coffee anywhere the child could reach it.

First off, let me say that I feel awful that a baby got all burned up by hot coffee. I’m sure it was not a pleasant experience for anyone involved. According to Wikipedia, first and second degree burns need anywhere from five days to three weeks to heal, which is a far cry from a “lifetime,” but I can only assume that the skin of a 14-month old is more easily damaged than the dry, wrinkled and leathery-like skin of the 47-year old man who is writing this blog post. What I take issue with is that the parents. Rather than taking responsibility for their own child, they feel fine in blaming the waitress for allowing this accident to happen. Let’s imagine that the baby was probably in a highchair and has the normal height of a 15-month old girl which is about 30”. Unless this baby is some kind of neanderthal-like orangutan with knuckles that drag the ground, her reach would be far less that 12”. It seems highly unlikely that any waitress, no matter how inexperienced, would put a cup of coffee within a few inches of a baby. And even if she did, isn’t it the parent’s responsibility to be aware of what is happening around their baby? Could it be possible that the waitress set down the cup of coffee far enough away from the baby, but the parents were the kinds of parents who let their kid stand up in the booth and reach across the table to grab shit when they aren’t looking because they are too busy texting on their cell phone or Instagramming a picture of their goddamn Lumberjack Slam®? Yeah, it’s possible.

And how much do you want to bet that if the coffee wasn’t hot enough, they would be the ones that would leave a 10% tip and then write on the receipt something like “Coffee was ice cold!!” Look, I’m really sorry that this kid got some coffee spilled all over but where’s my half a million dollars for that time a customer wasn’t paying attention and bumped into me making me spill a whole pot of coffee all over myself? All I got was a stained apron, a red welt on my arm for a week and a “sorry, I didn’t see you there.” This country will let you sue for anything and Denny’s was scared to go to court so they just wrote out a check for $500,000 and called it a day. (In other words, this family can now afford 125,000 orders of the $4 Everyday Value Slam®)I recently saw an image online of a paper coffee cup in Canada that made of fun our litigious society. It’s ridiculous what people will sue for (and again, I am not doubting that the little girl was hurt), but c’mon. People need to take some fucking responsibility for their own actions and quit looking for a way to cash out on every opportunity. It’s like suing McDonald’s because you’re fat. Or suing the beach because you got a sunburn. It’s maddening.

Pretty sure they are making fun of Americans.

Pretty sure they are making fun of Americans.

From now on, Denny’s servers, when you place a cup of hot coffee on any table with a child at it, I would suggest putting that coffee inside a locked safety deposit box. The key to that box should be inside a sealed envelope and given to the parents who then must sign a waiver stating they are aware that upon opening the safety deposit box and retrieving the hot coffee, they are accepting full responsibility for anything that could potentially happen with that hot coffee. After signing the waiver and having it notarized and faxed to the manager, only then can they have the coffee. Of course at this point, the coffee will be “ice cold” and the server will have to take it to the microwave to heat it up for two minutes and start the whole process over again. Or just serve iced coffee from now on, but I can totally see that someone suing because “that ice cube stuck to my tongue and ripped off part of my taste buds and now I can’t enjoy food anymore.” My answer to that would be, “Who the fuck cares? You’re at Denny’s.”



28 thoughts on “Family Sues Denny’s For Hot Coffee Spill, Makes Bank

  1. David Burch

    We went to denny’s Wisconsin Dells 2/11 2018 we did a carry-out order we got the steak Skillet with no onions no mushrooms over easy eggs we get home the skillet is filled with extra onion and mushroom all the eggs were over hard got to order french toast it was overdone it was burned it was obvious you could see that it was burnt I asked the bacon to be extra crisp it was like not even done I guess you can say we won’t be going back to Denny’s with that kind of service maybe it’s just carry-outs- I just know I was disappointed and when we called they say oh we’re sorry that’s it

  2. Mary

    Coffee: Hot.
    I’m pretty sure that unless you order ICED coffee, you will receive HOT coffee. After all the complaints I’ve heard of lukewarm coffee, that stuff had better be hot. I’ve burned my tongue on hot coffee, but that was me being impatient for caffeine, it was not a cause to sue. Perhaps we should re-name it HOT coffee, like hot chocolate, so nobody gets the impression that the coffee they ordered will be mildly warm! It’s your own fault if you fail to understand the language that we’ve all agreed on, not the waitress or coffee shop or restaurant that serves you an appropriately defined beverage. Not to mention, let’s make sure we serve it in stay cool cups with locked lids, since people can’t control not spilling it on themselves all the time so they can sue a place serving hot coffee.
    I’ve burned my mouth on steaming hot pizza too, and dropped molten cheese on my lap; maybe I can sue my local pizza place for daring to allow me to handle the pizza before it’s been properly cooled! Or, I can kick myself for once again being impatient and burning my own mouth.

  3. Rachael

    I think that it is easy to talk about the parents being inattentive or the waitress being negligent. But, nobody was there. As a parent, I have found that when the food comes I have to move plates or coffee as soon as the server puts it down because they do place the items right in front of my kids. There have been plenty of times where I barely had a chance to grab the steaming fajita plate the server is putting down right in front of my baby. So, it actually happens a lot. So, the question is, when did the baby grab the cup? Right when the server put the cup down and the parents did not have time to react, or were the parents negligent in not making sure the hot coffee was in reach? Details…details..


    Yeah, now there are disclaimers on absolutely everything! I did appreciate Maegan realizing the distance a server can strech and therefore assist them in clearing off a place for the server to set them, (thank you for that)

    What I cant stand is while a table ‘does you a favor’ by stacking the plates all willy nilly in a pile in the middle of the table. Their table with a fucking SUV sized stroller holding newborn twins in it on the end of iT which you then have to carefully pick up without dinnerware impaling the cargo. Help please, parents!

  5. Sasha

    “From now on, Denny’s servers, when you place a cup of hot coffee on any table with a child at it, I would suggest putting that coffee inside a locked safety deposit box. The key to that box should be inside a sealed envelope and given to the parents who then must sign a waiver stating they are aware that upon opening the safety deposit box and retrieving the hot coffee, they are accepting full responsibility for anything that could potentially happen with that hot coffee. After signing the waiver and having it notarized and faxed to the manager, only then can they have the coffee.”
    Damn good idea! 😀

  6. Elyse

    The real issue is the temperature of the coffee. If it was hot enough to severely burn skin then the restaurant was negligent. As someone else mentioned, that was the issue in the McDonald’s case. I worked in a coffee shop and we had to take the temperature of each coffee dispenser every 4 hours. The thing is, if you walk into any public place and are wheeled out on a stretcher, let’s say it’s a grocery store and you slip on a puddle of water. Who pays the medical bills? You get a lawyer and they’ll only take it if they think there was negligence. If there’s no grounds it will get thrown out.

    1. FormerRestaurantManager

      No, the bigger issue in the McDonalds case was that the woman in question was wearing cheap polyester pants of some sort that stuck to her skin and worsened the burns. And no, she made nothing, because the lawyers and the taxmen took almost all in the end. The lawyers made the decision to sue Ronald & Co because the clothing maker was a cheap sweatshop brand that wasn’t gonna be able to pay out as much as McDonalds. Sue the wealthiest party, not the one with the most blame, because this way your lawyer will get a fatter check.

  7. FormerRestaurantManager

    Personal experience- give the kid the freaking sippy-cup first. That way his/her hands are full and distracted. Set the coffee down last, and mention that it is hot (duh). Not blaming the server at all, but I just learned to do things a certain way simply because I didn’t want to deal with the bullshit.

  8. Dogtroep

    I’m a pediatrician and I have seen COUNTLESS cases where a child grabbed a parent’s hot drink or a pan on the stove and scalded themselves terribly. Should we be taking the parents to court in these cases and making them pay damages to their children? Or should we just say fuck it, kids grab anything in reach (even when you think it’s safely put up) and be extra careful? I don’t think there should be different liabilities in public than at home. (Unless, of course, the server spilled it on the child.)

  9. Cortney

    I work at Denny’s in upstate new york (obviously not this one) but I can tell you yes, our coffee is hot(really you don’t say?). BUT the parents should have definitely been watching their child. Although you also have to take into account how big is the booth, also it has placemats, silverware and people like to not move their shit over when you are putting drinks down. Also I myself make it a point to put the coffee as far away from a child as possible IF I CAN because these are issues. If it’s not far enough away I make a comment like “I’m sorry can you just move that over, I don’t want the baby to grab/knock that. It ULTIMATELY comes down to the adult costumers at the table. And they were just plain irresponsible!

  10. Hannah

    Well on one hand, why should the coffee be hot enough to burn your very skin off? And on the other hand,the parents only had ONE job, look after your kid. I see both sides, it’s 50/50

  11. Karma Girl

    I’m withholding judgment until I learn more about the case. I felt the same way over the lady who burned herself with McDonald’s coffee until I learned that she wasn’t driving, she was in a parked car, and that McD’s had been warned by various people that the coffee was way too hot to be safe and just didn’t care.

  12. Becky

    This…this is why I hate people. I’m a server and a parent, and guess what, if one of my little asshats grabbed a cup of coffee and got mildly burned because they were screwing around after undoubtedly telling them 37 times not to touch it, I’d call it lesson learned and finish my grand slam.

  13. maria G

    I have to say yes on both parties. The waitress if at all experienced would know better because little kids are quick to grab and can really reach for being so little.
    Plus the parents should of been paying attention.

  14. steph

    The parents here were not paying attention to the child. So it’s Denny fault that she grabbed the cup!!!! Just an excuse to make money!!! All the parents saw was dollar sign in their eyes!!!!!

  15. Lisa

    Ridiculous & maddening! I can only hope that these idiot parents can’t touch the money except for med. bills and/or when the kid is 21.

    I hate how sue happy people are….and no responsibility taken by the parents. Disgusting.

  16. Miss Merlot

    Most important thing I got from this post – you are 47…?!?!??!

    From photos I would have put you at late twenties and not a day older!

  17. Maegan

    My 2 year old spilled a hot beverage down her torso and thighs…her skin peeled away in seconds. It was pretty horrific. 1st & 2nd degree burns. The problem is you won’t know for a while how the damage is healing…if the scarring will cause problems you won’t see until adulthood. My daughter had a really bad burn and blister over her nipple. It’s totally possible she could have the kind of scarring that would prevent normal breast development as she goes through puberty or even have problems if she tried to breastfeed an infant later in life.

    I have no way of knowing what actually happened to this family in particular…servers for my family have often set things down immediately in front of the baby b/c she’s in a high chair…we move them down quickly b/c the server can only reach so far…luckily we’ve only had dropped knives and spilled kiddie drinks.

    For a young child…with unknown future issues…the settlement makes sense.

    1. curtis

      This settlement makes no sense Maegan. I am sorry that your child had a hot liquid spilled on her, and had the skin peel away quickly. However where is it the fault of Denny’s because the parents were not willing to move the cup away from the child? Like you said, maybe the server had to place the cup in front of the high chair because of her reach. If that was the case, then move the cup away. Be aware of your surroundings, and take responsibility for your own actions, or lack thereof. The server did not dump the coffee on the child. She placed it on the table. These types of lawsuits are ridiculous. But answer me this question, why was your 2 year old playing with a hot liquid anyway, causing her to pour it down her torso? Shouldn’t you have stopped that before it happened, or better yet, made sure there were no hot liquids near a 2 year old in the first place. Who did you sue for that one?

      1. Maegan

        I wasn’t speaking to the servers actions…I’m sure the Denny’s legal team thought it was the best thing to do for a baby injured in their restaurant.

        I was explaining my child’s injury as an example of a LIFETIME OF CARE. After about 6 weeks there was no more open skin…after 6 months there was only slight discoloration. But any scar can grow tissue without being obvious.

        As for my own child…I poured water for hot chocolate from a thermos in to a cup. I told her not to touch it, but she was excited and didn’t want to wait…while I was trying to put some things on the table my child tried to slide the cup towards her so she could see in. The table was a criss cross metal mesh of some kind…and didn’t allow for sliding. I reacted immediately, but couldn’t stop the cup from going over. Fuck you very much for basically saying I’m a lazy, abusive, litigious parent.

        1. nick


          Only one idiot mis-understood your situation. shit happens, they are also called accident, we learn from them. You did not blame anyone else than you, and I am sure curtis has no kids that he raised himself, so who cares?
          I fell sorry for your daugther, understood the long-terms risk, but who knows, i am sure that she will grow well.
          stay safe.

  18. Bear

    Hang a sign in all restaurants saying: Because of dip-shit customers, greedy POS personal injury attorneys and dumb ass judges/juries your coffee will not exceed 98.6 degrees.

  19. Krista

    True, In Canada we sue people far less than in the USA. It is, however, becoming more of a thing.
    The only incident I recall being legit was the woman who sued McDonald’s over their hot coffee. Read up on it. Their coffee was silly hot, and she was badly injured. And after lawyers/court fees, she did NOT make out like a bandit!

    1. a girl

      when i was four i got scalded by water because you know, water literally jumps out of the pot when is hot but we didn’t sue it im12 now and me and a group of my friends were working on a project and a friend burnded with the gluegun i got hurt pretty badly and i was like nah its allright doesn’t even hurt so what a difference between a gluegun and cup of coffee?


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