Scalding Coffee Lawsuit In New York
New York precedent on the issue of scalding coffee that caused first and second degree burns provides:
"The fact that the coffee was hot enough to cause injury if not properly handled does not mean that it was defective or negligently served. Where, as here, a product by its very nature has a dangerous attribute, liability is imposed only when the product has an attribute not reasonably contemplated by the purchaser or is unreasonably dangerous for its intended use. (See, Robinson v. Reed-Prentice Div. of Package Mach. Co., 49 NY2d 471, 479.)" ( Huppe v. Twenty-First Century Rests., 130 Misc 2d 736, 738, affd on opn below 116 AD2d 797.)
In Huppe, the plaintiffs failed to present evidence from which a trier of fact could find that the coffee was so hot that it exceeded the reasonable or customary standards for such a product, and consequently the Huppe plaintiffs' claims for defective or negligently served coffee were dismissed.
Furthermore, because "the hotness of the coffee was such an essential and intended attribute of the product ... defendant had a duty to warn of its temperature only if it exceeded the reasonable range of temperature for such a product" ( Huppe, supra, at 739).
As there was no evidence that the coffee in Huppe was hotter than contemplated by plaintiffs therein, the Huppe court found no duty to warn.