Mr Initial Man
There's more to the story. There is hot, and there is VERY hot. McDonald's coffee was VERY hot. McDonald's apparently pressurized the coffee makers so that the coffee could be heated past water's boiling point.
McDonald's KNEW that their coffee was dangerously hot, as there had been a series of very nasty scalds from the superheated coffee, and they'd been quietly paying it off. This woman simply decided to make a stink about it.
there's a lot more to it than that, and i dont think that there's evidence that they pressurized it to bring it beyond it's boiling point. the law jouranls of the day (easliy found via google, yahoo etc.) agree that they served the coffee at 180f while pretty much everyone else sold it at around 160f.
The fact that they were found negligent is still troublesome to many in the law and food service industry, including many with no particular loyalty or vested interest. It was widely assumed that the case would be dismissed, and a defense of the type mcdonalds can afford was never put together.
maybe they were negligent, maybe not. but if you spill coffee on yerself and sue the guy that made it, why not get drunk, crash yer car and sue jack daniels -- oh, they did that too? hmmm