DOTHAN, Ala. (WIAT) — A woman is suing McDonald’s after claiming she unknowingly drank a cup full of an unknown chemical instead of coffee at a restaurant in Dothan, Alabama.
The lawsuit, which was filed Monday in Houston County, claimed that Sherry Head, of DeFuniak Springs, was at the McDonald’s on Ross Clark Circle on December 21, 2020 when she tried to order a cup of coffee in the drive-thru lane.
“Plaintiff ordered a caramel macchiato at the drive-through speaker, and a McDonald’s employee told her they couldn’t make one because the machine was being cleaned out,” the complaint stated. “Then Plaintiff heard someone in the background say ‘No, it’s ready to go!’ The employee then told her she could order the drink and she did so.”
The suit alleged that instead of coffee, the cup was full of a “harmful chemical,” which Head unknowingly drank and immediately felt a “burning and numbing sensation” in her mouth and throat.
Head claimed she re-entered the drive-thru line to tell employees what had happened. The lawsuit alleged that after the manager said their staff needed to be more careful, they told Head that it was “fine.”
“Plaintiff asked to see the label of the bottle of the chemical that had been served to her in the coffee cup and asked what she should do to get it out of her system,” the lawsuit stated. “The manager refused to allow her access to the bottle, although the manager and employees on duty at McDonald’s knew what chemical Plaintiff had been served.”
Both the manager and employees refused to call 911 or poison control at Head’s request, the lawsuit alleged, forcing Head to call them herself. The lawsuit claimed that due to drinking the chemical, Head injured her mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, digestive tract and other internal organs.
“I took a sip, and immediately my mouth and throat went numb, then started burning,” Head said in a statement provided by Baxley Maniscalco Attorneys at Law. “Now I have permanent scarring in my throat and may need corrective surgery.”
This is not the first time McDonald’s has been accused of accidently serving customers chemicals instead of coffee. In 2018, a manager at a McDonald’s restaurant in Alberta, Canada apologized after serving a cup of coffee with cleaning chemicals to a pregnant customer.
Through her lawsuit, Head and her attorneys are seeking $3 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. According to Alabama law, punitive damages are capped at three times the compensatory damages a victim can receive, or $500,000. It can be raised to $1.5 million if it involves physical injury. However, punitive damage caps did not apply to wrongful death or deliberately causing pain.