Liebeck v McDonalds
This is one of the most famous lawsuits won against a business. The case arose when 80-year-old Stella Liebeck spilt a McDonald’s takeaway coffee on her lap and suffered third-degree burns on her body.
McDonald’s had hundreds of complaints about the serving temperature of its coffee, which had been tested at up to 50 degrees hotter than other chains. Originally, Liebeck wanted just $800 to cover her skin grafts but when McDonald’s refused, she was eventually awarded $2.7 million.
Over the years, McDonalds have faced a number of serious lawsuits that have jeopardised their business. The infamous ‘McLibel’ case became the longest case in British history when McDonald’s sued environmental activists that had been handing out negative leaflets about the business. The case dragged on and while it largely ended in favour of McDonald’s, it confirmed some allegations such as child exploitation and animal cruelty.
Apple v Samsung
Two titans of the technology world have been battling for a long time over the features of their phones. The disputes over patents include features such as scrolling, zooming, touch screens and design. Remarkably, the judgement in the UK said that Samsung wasn’t ‘cool’ enough to have copied Apple’s designs.
Apple has been the subject of a barrage of lawsuits, including similar infringement claims from Nokia, Kodak and three Chinese companies, as well as accusations of price fixing, data protection violation and racial discrimination.
Rosenberg v Google
Some business lawsuits have become famous simply because of the ridiculousness of the claims. For example, a woman named Lauren Rosenberg sued Google for over $100,000 in 2009.
She had followed the directions of Google Maps but when it led her onto a rural road where cars travelled at high speed, she carried on, trusting the map’s guidance. She was found to have wandered dangerously onto the wrong side of the road, which didn’t have a pedestrian path and was hit by a car. The disclaimer on the app advising that directions may be unreliable was enough to see the charges entirely thrown out of court.
Peters v Universal Studios
America is quite a litigious society, so there are many notorious cases of consumers suffering accidents or misfortunes and suing the businesses responsible. Cleanthi Peters sued Universal Studios for $15,000 dollars because she claimed their haunted house was too scary.
She was chased by Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, tripped and fell. They claimed they had suffered ‘extreme fear, emotional distress and mental anguish.’ However, she probably realised the absurdity of the situation, as the lawsuit never materialised.