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Subject:  Re: Hot Coffee Date:  3/2/2013  8:15 PM
Author:  sykesix Number:  418797 of 507003

We're wearing you down, I can tell ;) Do you think that people who eat contaminated meat are also responsible themselves? How about those who get electrocuted by a power drill that looks like all the other power drills they've ever used?

I don't, but hold that thought...

"Brew" temperatures and "serve" temperatures are different, and there is a very big difference in scalding properties between 170 and 185. Notice how the curve bends sharply upwards between 160-170 and goes off the charts at 180 and above.

Right, so you are brewing and 200+ and holding the temperature at 170 (as per the ANSI standard for home coffee makers). So what's the temperature of a freshly brewed cup of coffee at home? I dunno. You pick a number. But the number is somewhere in that ballpark. Keep that number in mind.

Back to your first point. I expect meat to be safe to eat, but I realize there are some safe handling rules I need to follow as I prepare it. Same with the drill. I expect the drill itself to be safe but I realize that I shouldn't touch the bit while it is spinning. Some burden is on the operator.

One of the main arguments of the plaintiff and in this thread is that McDonald's was serving coffee much hotter than normal, so the coffee was "defective." But it really wasn't that much hotter. If we look at your chart it looks like the scalding starts in about 0.25 seconds at 170 and about 0.10 seconds at 185. Just for the sake of argument, let's say McDonald's coffee was hotter than normal. Even at 160 you can get scalded in half a second. Undoubtedly getting burned by 185 degree coffee is worse, but coffee doesn't become "safe" at <insert the temperature you think most home coffee is served at>. Safer maybe, but not safe. You can scald yourself just fine with 160 degree coffee. No one should be thinking "I don't have to be careful with hot coffee because it is safe if I spill it on myself." The normal SOP is to NOT spill it.

But Liebeck did spill it. She spilled a product commonly served at a temperature that is unsafe if you spill it on yourself. Even if it was a little cooler it still would have been unsafe. The coffee was not defective. She had a reasonable expectation that it was hot. She was the operator. It was her responsibility not to spill it.

The only one argument that makes sense to me is that McDonald's coffee was too hot, and therefore her injuries were worse than they otherwise would have been. But I don't even buy that. In one of the dismissed coffee lawsuits I mentioned, the coffee maker was set at 185 by the Bunn technician. If Bunn is setting their commercial coffee makers at 185 that pretty much makes it the industry standard. I think people expect and are accustomed to hot coffee and what happened to Liebeck was a freak accident.

Back to you :)
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