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Woman sues Chick-fil-A after hot coffee spills on her lap at drive-thru

An Athens woman is suing Chick-fil-A claiming they handed her a hot coffee with a defective or lid, or one that was not on tightly, causing it to spill on to her lap. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
An Athens woman is suing Chick-fil-A claiming they handed her a hot coffee with a defective or lid, or one that was not on tightly, causing it to spill on to her lap. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

An Athens woman is suing Chick-fil-A claiming they handed her a hot coffee with a defective lid, or one that was not on tightly, causing it to spill on her lap.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Fulton County Court and names Chick-fil-A and the Commerce location where the incident occurred.  The victim's attorneys allege the store was negligent.

According to the lawsuit, Leigh Mehalick purchased two large hot coffees from the store located on 30563 Highway 441 while she was in the drive-thru. The employee handed Mehalick the first coffee without any problems. When the employee handed Mehalick the second cup, the hot beverage spilled into Mehalick’s lap.

“We are aware of the complaint from August, and conducted a full investigation at that time. The safety of our guests is of the utmost priority at Chick-fil-A Commerce,” said location owner Margaret Phillips in a statement.

Mehalick’s attorney declined to comment on the case.


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Mehalick suffered severe and permanent burns as a result of the spill resulting so far in $21,000 in medical expenses, the lawsuit alleges. She is requesting an unspecified amount for past and future medical expenses and attorney fees.

Chick-fil-A is just the latest fast food chain to be sued after incidents with hot beverages. A Colorado woman sued Starbucks in 2017 after a cup of hot tea spilled on to her through a drive-thru window.

Cases such as those have precedent that dates back to 1994. That year, McDonalds initially had to pay a customer more than $2 million after a cup of coffee spilled in her lap while she was at a drive-thru. A judge later reduced that amount and both parties settled for $600,000.

A documentary about the case called "Hot Coffee" was released in 2011.


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In other news:

Chick-fil-A on Track to Become Third Largest Fast Food Chain The chicken chain will claim the No. 3 spot in the U.S. in sales by the end of 2018. This is big jump from being the No. 7 spot in 2017. Analyst Mark Kalinowski initially predicted Chick-fil-A would take the No. 3 spot in 2020. He recently updated his forecast that it would be third by 2019. In 2017, Chick-fil-A sales grew by $1.1 billion. It is difficult to calculate exact sales because Chick-fil-A is a private company. The nearest competitor w