Virginia Beach Woman Sues Qatar Airways in Hot Coffee Spill Lawsuit

A case in the 1990s when a woman who sustained burns from scalding coffee at McDonald's made legal headlines. Now a Virginia Beach woman has sued an airline in a hot coffee spill lawsuit.

The Virginia woman is seeking $850,000 from Qatar Airways and is calling for a jury trial, claiming she suffered serious burns from spilled coffee during a flight.

The hot coffee spill lawsuit accuses the airline of negligence in failing to provide care for the woman, Zahra Azizkhani, reported WAVY.com.

Media reports said Azizkhani purchased a ticket from Virginia to Tehran, Iran for a flight on Jan. 12.

Hot coffee spill lawsuit is brought against airline

Hot coffee spill lawsuit is brought against Qatar Airways

She ordered coffee from a flight attendant. The lawsuit claimed the attendant dropped and spilled the coffee onto her lap. The coffee was said to be “scalding hot” and burned Azizkhani’s stomach, the claim states.

The lawsuit alleged Azizkhani suffered a serious burn across her stomach that left her in extreme pain. She claims the flight attendant failed to help her.

Azizkhani is said to have reported the incident to a supervisor at Doha International Airport in Qatar. The supervisor saw her burns and told her to not let her clothes touch the burn area. However, Azizkhani told the airline supervisor she was traveling to Tehran where strict laws would not allow her stomach to be exposed.

She received no further medical treatment from Qatar Airways, the lawsuit claims.

WAVY.com reported the lawsuit said Qatar Airways showed a “willful, wanton and careless disregard” for Azizkhani’s health.

She is seeking a jury trial, $500,000 in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.

Lawsuits against airlines have been in the headlines this week. United recently announced it reached a settlement with a passenger who sustained injuries when he was dragged off a plane earlier this month.

Hot Coffee Spill Lawsuit Against McDonalds Made Headlines

The most famous hot coffee spill lawsuit was filed against McDonald's in the 1990s. It became a byword for spurious lawsuits. This is unfortunate because the woman who was burned by hot coffee suffered serious injuries.

Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico was sitting in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car when she was severely burned by a McDonalds’ coffee that she ordered at a drive-through. Liebeck sustained third-degree burns over about six percent of her body.

A jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages, which was reduced to $160,000 because the jury found her 20 percent at fault, as well as $2.7 million in punitive damages to reflect McDonald’s callous conduct. The punitive damages award was later reduced.

At the time McDonald's sold coffee at 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature high enough to cause third-degree burns in seconds, stated a report from the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.

Unlike New Mexico, Virginia has a harsh contributory negligence doctrine that bars recovery if an accident victim is even 1 percent to blame.

If you have been injured due to the fault of another person or a defective product, please call our Virginia personal injury lawyers at (757) 455-0077.

Mike Snellings

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