The flying toilet paper dispenser, part II…

A good friend who faithfully reads my blog and is probably the most thorough fact checker I’ve ever known discovered some additional details about a blog I posted earlier this week. That story regarded a woman who sued a Taos McDonald’s for assault by a toilet paper dispenser.

The woman claimed she was injured when she tugged on a toilet paper roll in the dispensing mechanism in her stall at the McDonald’s in Taos and it detached from the wall and struck her head.

Not so fast, responded the courts to her claim. My fact checker discovered a judgment in her claim in 2017, noting it was “dismiss(ed)/decided by dispositive motion/dismiss(ed) by judge/party” — which I think means it was tossed out of court for being a bit too frivolous.

So why wasn’t the hot coffee suit against McDonald’s in Albuquerque that I mentioned in my blog dismissed way back in 1994 as being too frivolous? The court ruling in that product liability case was for $2.86 million in damages to the woman who claimed she had been burned by hot coffee spilled after she was served at a drive-up window. The amount was eventually reduced to $860,000 and a final settlement, not disclosed, was made after that. The case became a “poster boy” for tort reform after the settlement.

Several years after the case had been resolved, I had an opportunity to discuss the outcome with an attorney friend who had been involved in the litigation. He told me that the judge made his decision because McDonald’s was so cavalier about responding to the suit which it considered to be frivolous. (As an aside, the judge in the case was someone who I knew in college. I have a great story about him I may share at a later date.)

So now, when you now get coffee at McDonald’s, I think you still see some words of caution about dangers of hot liquids on the cup. So far, I have seen no such disclosures on toilet paper dispensers.

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