Woman who was scalded when coffee spilled in her lap at drive-through awarded €30k damages.

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A 29-year-old woman, whose thighs and genitals were scalded when coffee was spilled in her lap has been awarded €30,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.  The woman told Judge Francis Comerford that while being handed a large Americano at the drive-through restaurant a lid that had not been properly secured to the cup had come off causing her to be scalded in her thighs, groin and private parts.  Counsel for the woman said she had suffered extensive burns and, while having been treated with gel in the restaurant office, later had to attend hospital on six occasions to have her wounds treated. The defendant denied negligence in a full defence and had pleaded contributory negligence on the part of the woman.  In cross-examination the woman denied that she had put the large coffee cup between her legs in her car which had caused the lid to pop off. She said that while waiting to be served her car had been in gear and her feet had been on the clutch and brake but denied the spillage had been caused by her car jolting forward.  Judge Comerford said he accepted that the restaurants training policy of providing a cup carrier with every hot drink that was handed out of the service hatch had been breached by the staff member involved. He felt training procedures should have been followed and had not been on this occasion, which tipped the decision in the womans favour. He said CCTV coverage of the incident showed the car moving following the spillage.  The judge said it was a difficult case to value from a point of view of general damages. “They were bad burns in an extremely sensitive area, and I accept there would have been some impact on sexual activity for five months or so after the incident,” Judge Comerford said.  He said that while the injuries had been highly stressful and painful there had been no evidence of any permanent consequences as a result of them and therefore no necessity for damages into the future.  “There was also a high degree of indignity involved in the way things occurred and from the photographs it is clear there was some blistering which required ongoing dressings having to be applied,” Judge Comerford said.  He felt that despite the effects of the injuries not having lasted for a long period the court was of the view that the woman should be awarded the sum of €30,000 damages together with her legal costs.