A DeFuniak Springs, Florida, woman is suing McDonald’s for $13 million, claiming she ordered coffee from a restaurant in Dothan and was served cleaning chemicals that injured her.
The 15-page suit was filed Monday morning in Houston County Circuit Court, seeking $3 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.
According to the lawsuit, Sherry Head ordered a caramel macchiato from the drive-thru window at McDonald’s on Ross Clark Circle in Dothan on Dec. 21, 2020.
Head said she was told the drink was unavailable, as the machine was being cleaned. Then Head heard someone in the background say, “No, it’s ready to go!” according to the lawsuit.
She was served the coffee with the lid on. She took a drink and experienced a “burning and numbing sensation in her mouth and throat,” the suit states. When she opened the lid, she saw something that appeared to be a chemical.
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Head said when she reported it to the store, according to the suit, the manager screamed to employees, “I told y’all you have to be more careful about that!” before turning back to her and saying it was “fine.” When Head asked to see the label of the chemical that had been in her coffee cup, the manager refused, and did not call 911 or poison control. The manager then “slammed” the drive-thru window shut, according to the suit.
Head called 911 herself, and emergency responders were also denied access to the chemical bottle, according to the lawsuit.
The McDonald’s listed in the suit is located at 3520 Ross Clark Circle near Montgomery Highway and across from Home Depot. It is among the local McDonald’s restaurants operated by Murphy Family Restaurants. Owners Gerry Murphy and Cheryl B. Murphy of Enterprise are listed as defendants along with their company GCSC Enterprises LLC, McDonald’s Restaurants of Alabama, McDonald’s USA LLC, and McDonald’s Corporation.
“We are aware of the complaint filed in the circuit court of Houston County,” McDonald’s owner Gerry Murphy told the Eagle. “Immediately upon learning of this concern, we conducted a thorough investigation to understand the facts. The health and safety of our customers and employees is always a top priority.”
Head’s attorneys — Alyssa Baxley and Adam Maniscalco of Baxley Maniscalco LLP in Oxford, Alabama — say she is suffering from injuries to her mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, digestive tract, and other internal organs, as well as “anxiety, fear and mental anguish.”
According to Head’s attorneys, she has been diagnosed with scarring and narrowing in her throat, difficulty swallowing, chronic gastritis, acid reflux and abdominal pain. She may need surgery to preserve her ability to swallow.
This story, published first by al.com, includes information from Dothan Eagle staff reports.