McDonald\'s Lawsuit

Posted on: Fri, 08/10/2007 - 11:56pm
mommamia8's picture
Joined: 11/13/2005 - 09:00


Man says hold the cheese, claims McDonald's didn't, sues for $10 million

by Justin D. Anderson
Daily Mail Staff

A Morgantown man, his mother and his friend are suing McDonald's for $10 million.
The man says he bit into a hamburger and had a severe allergic reaction to the cheese melted on it.

Jeromy Jackson, who is in his early 20s, says he clearly ordered two Quarter Pounders without cheese at the McDonald's restaurant in Star City before heading to Clarksburg.

His mother Trela Jackson and friend Andrew Ellifritz are parties to the lawsuit because they say they risked their lives rushing Jeromy to United Hospital Center in Clarksburg.

The lawsuit alleges Jeromy "was only moments from death" or serious injury by the time he reached the hospital.

"We're interested in seeing McDonald's take responsibility and change a systemic quality control problem that endangers the lives of up to 12 million Americans with allergies," said Timothy Houston, the Morgantown lawyer representing the plaintiffs.

Houston said his clients were in Morgantown in October 2005 and stopped at the Star City McDonald's on the way home to Clarksburg. Jeromy Jackson was living with his mother at the time.

Jeromy did his part to make it known he didn't want cheese on the hamburgers because he is allergic, Houston said.

He told a worker through the ordering speaker and then two workers face-to-face at the pay and pick-up windows that he couldn't eat cheese, Houston said.

"By my count, he took at least five independent steps to make sure that thing had no cheese on it," Houston said. "And it did and almost cost him his life."

After getting the food, the three drove to Clarksburg and started to eat the food in a darkened room where they were going to watch a movie, Houston said.

Jeromy took one bite and started having the reaction, Houston said. One of the three immediately called the McDonald's to let restaurant employees know they had messed up the order, but had to cut the call short when Jeromy started having a bad reaction, Houston said.

At least two managers at the McDonald's called the Jacksons afterward to apologize for what happened, Houston said.

McDonald's representatives offered to pay half of Jeromy's medical bills -- which totaled about $700. When Houston became involved, he said the company offered to pay all the medical costs.

The plaintiffs weren't interested, and McDonald's wasn't offering anything more than medical costs.

The Jacksons and Ellifritz filed the lawsuit on July 18 in Monongalia Circuit Court.

Houston didn't know if McDonald's had yet been served with the complaint.

The lawsuit seeks damages on two counts of negligence, one count of intentional infliction of emotional distress and one count of punitive damages.

The fast-food giant has been sued before.

In one notorious instance in 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from Albuquerque, N.M., sued McDonald's after she suffered third-degree burns from spilling a hot cup of coffee in her lap.

A jury later awarded Liebeck $2.9 million.

Posted on: Sat, 08/11/2007 - 12:11am
BS312's picture
Joined: 09/05/2001 - 09:00

He should have looked before he bit.

Posted on: Sat, 08/11/2007 - 12:53am
kandomom's picture
Joined: 01/12/2006 - 09:00

Absolutely should have checked the burger before he started eating. Turn on the lights and look before settling down to a movie! And why did they call McDonald's to complain when he was having a reaction? Before taking care of the reaction?

Posted on: Sat, 08/11/2007 - 2:10am
mom2boys1975's picture
Joined: 07/19/2007 - 09:00

Okay I was thinking the same thing while reading and didn't know if I was being insensitive.

Posted on: Sat, 08/11/2007 - 3:20am
SFMom's picture
Joined: 11/27/2006 - 09:00

It's terrible that he had a reaction, and that the McDonalds messed up. But I agree, he should have looked at it first. It's a different story if the cheese would have been "hidden" in the burger somehow, unidentifiable by just looking. But the cheese was right there on top of the burger. Somebody from his family should have checked first.
I mean, why would you leave your life in the hands of hourly-paid fast food workers?
I think they are probably trying to set some sort of precident. But it's not a good example. If the allergic substance had been hidden in the food, and the workers lied to him about what was in it, I think it would be a different story. Or, if the allergic substance was in the food and nobody knew because it wasn't labeled properly.

Posted on: Sat, 08/11/2007 - 7:28am
chanda4's picture
Joined: 12/14/2006 - 09:00

You can ask, you can ask, you can ask...but you've got to take some responsibility yourself before you eat! I have to order *PLAIN* hamburgers as well....but I ALWAYS check before giving to my child. Just with EVERY label, EVERY ingredient list, I check the plain hamburger happy meal as well. And yes they do mess up, but I wouldn't allow McDonald's to read a label to see if the ingredients are milk free without verifying myself as well... this is no different. Yes McDonalds needs to be more careful, but in the end, it's *our* responsibility to make sure what we put in our mouths is safe. Now if he'd ordered the hamburger without cheese and they peeled it off because they forgot, then tried to serve it to him...then that is grounds for being sued...negligence. I think them offering to pay his medical bills was justified and generous.
Chanda(mother of 4)
Sidney-8 1/2(beef and chocolate, grasses, molds, weeds, guinea pig, hamster & asthma)
Jake-6 1/2(peanut, all tree nuts, seeds(all-sesame, sunflower, poppy, pine nut) beef, chicken, eggs, coconut(also avoiding legumes), trees, grasses, weeds, molds, cats, dogs, guinea pig & eczema & asthma)
Carson-4 (peanut, tree nuts, milk, soy, egg, beef and pork, cats, dog, guinea pig, hamster, grass, mold, dust mite and EE)
Savannah-1 1/2 (milk, beef and egg, dog(avoiding peanuts, tree nuts, strawberries, seeds, legumes and corn)
[This message has been edited by chanda4 (edited August 11, 2007).]

Posted on: Sat, 08/11/2007 - 8:10am
PAMomInPA's picture
Joined: 04/04/2006 - 09:00

I'd have a little more sympathy if it was a hidden ingredient that was misrepresented but if you have a severe milk allergy you look for cheese! And you probably don't risk eating burgers at a McD's where practically every sandwich comes with cheese and regardless of allergies, it's always been risky to ask for exceptions.
Lawsuits like this are only going to make restaurants less sympathetic to food allergy sufferers. They'll post blanket allergy statements on their doors and worry less about making food safe.

Posted on: Sat, 08/11/2007 - 11:50am
TwokidsNJ's picture
Joined: 05/28/2005 - 09:00

I agree with PAmom in PA. If he's that severely allergic to cheese, he should be worried about cross contamination and not be eating at McDonalds. And checked his own burger.
I worry about the implications of this type of lawsuit too.

Posted on: Sat, 08/11/2007 - 11:52am
SallyL's picture
Joined: 02/20/2006 - 09:00

I agree - they screwed up but he really should have checked. Especially since they normally come with cheese on them!!! I ALWAYS check my DD's burger - and that's just for ketchup (we order plain due to concerns re cross contamination with mayo).
I realize he mentioned it a few times to them, but if I were him, I would have checked before I even pulled away from the window!

Posted on: Sat, 08/11/2007 - 11:54am
smudgesgarden's picture
Joined: 02/26/2006 - 09:00

if the guy was that alergic to dairy why would he eat there anyway? the kids who make the burgers dont change there gloves between makeing burgers and cheese burgers.
plus hes 20! look before you eat, duh! even my 3 1/2 year old son knows better!
cant beleive that he won his case.

Posted on: Sat, 08/11/2007 - 12:57pm
PinkPoodle's picture
Joined: 06/12/2007 - 09:00

I think eating at restaurants pose known risks. Looking at your food for possible allergens is very important, especially for something you can blatantly see. It would be one thing if the burgers looked OK and then he later found out they peeled the cheese off and then wrapped it up and served it to him...
My DS has no allergies (his sister does)---he likes his burgers with ketchup only. I always check it before driving away from the drive-thru. I'd say 40% of the time it is made incorrectly with mustard, pickles. It is purely a preference of his taste and I still check for accuracy.
Its also FASTfood---and when people move quickly to get orders together at minimum'd better double check your order and then realize you're still taking a risk. In an ideal world, every fast food order would be perfect as ordered, but I think it is a far away goal.
McD's is going to put the blanket risk/ warning statements on their doors and windows like Dunkin Donuts stating there are allergens in the store and anything could be cross contaminated. I personally appreciate such a sign, but many will be disappointed to see that when they drive up to one of their few 'safe' restaurants on their list.
I love the friend/mother reasoning of why they are also sueing: "risked their lives trying to get Jeromy to the hospital"--ever hear of 911? Also, as a mother, it is my obligation to my children to risk my life if theirs are in jeapordy.
Off my soap box. I hope there is another side to this story than what I am now hearing, but to me this almost seems calculated (cynical me)....just happened to not turn the light on and see the cheese--the room was so dark, etc., etc.



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