San Diego family suing Walt Disney World for alleged hot nacho cheese accident

Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 12:19 PM | Contributed by Jeff

The Harris family's San Diego attorney, Sean Cahill, said their 4-year-old son Isaiah accidently spilled scalding hot nacho cheese on his face at one of Walt Disney World’s restaurants and it left him with a blister so large it’s almost as big as his upper lip. The family is suing Disney World.

Read more from KGTV/San Diego.

Saturday, February 12, 2011 12:00 AM

Good thing they didnt go to a Cedar Fair or Six Flags park! Their child might have ended up with hypothermia due to the cold cheese!!!
Seriously Disney should petition to have this kid taken from his dumb parents...


Bolliger/Mabillard for President in '08 NOT Dinn/Summers

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Saturday, February 12, 2011 12:37 AM
LostKause's avatar

I don't mean to be defending the parents here, but...

I have never ran into a "hot" cheese problem either. I would assume here that the cheese was served at too high of a temperature that was not the norm. If you spilled cheese sauce on your skin, you wouldn't expect it to burn a blister into it. If it happened to me, I'd probably be a little upset at the temperature too.

And four-year-olds usually handle their own food. That's normal. I can see it being the parent's fault for not checking if the cheese sauce was hot enough to burn a blister into the boy's skin, but I don't know how many people would think about the cheese sauce being that hot in the first place.


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Saturday, February 12, 2011 12:55 AM

Two things: Unfortunate accident and questionable parental supervision.

I sure wish I knew where to find the hot cheese since my complaint is that it's usually cold.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011 9:38 AM
OhioStater's avatar

In all seriousness, when people talk about "what needs changed" in this country, this is certainly one of them.

Think of the vast amount of resources that has already gone into this ridiculous "lawsuit". Lawyers' resources, the courts' resources, the media's resources, Disney's resources...not to mention the amount of money that may be exchanged. This kind of stuff (frivolous lawsuits) really needs to be put to a stop.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011 11:41 AM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar

I am going to sue the family for causing my ticket prices to skyrocket. ;)

I have burned myself many times with food, especially as a kid and at theme parks and restaurants. Who hasn't? My parents never sued anybody. Back then parents actually took responsibility for themselves AND their kids instead of blaming someone else.

What are they going to do next? Sue 7-11 because their kid drank their Slurpee way too fast and got brain freeze followed by an extended headache? They are already suing fast foods because of their kids' weight problems.

I hope this gets thrown out of court. We are the ones that ultimately pay out the wazoo for this.

-Tina

Last edited by coasterqueenTRN, Saturday, February 12, 2011 11:52 AM
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Saturday, February 12, 2011 11:58 AM

You know what really needs to change in this country? People need to stop being so quick to judge.

Many of the reactions in this thread are absolutely disgusting. There is simply not enough information in the news article to jump to the kind of conclusions that people have here. The article doesn't mention how much money the couple is seeking, so how in the world can anyone state with any certainty that this is a money grab?

I'm guessing that the vast majority of people here didn't even bother to watch the video in the article. As I said on the last page, that blister is not just some minor burn, and I can't think of any reason that any food item should be served at a temperature that could cause that type of tissue damage. Without knowing specifics of the case (what temperature the cheese was being served at, duration of exposure, how the burn happened in the first place), I think it's ignorant to pass judgment on either party. But I think it's worthwhile to point out that, judging from the evidence we do have, the couple may very well have a valid case.

People will undoubtedly compare this case to the rather infamous McDonald's coffee lawsuit. And I'm guessing the vast majority of people who cite that case as an example of a "frivolous lawsuit" also don't realize that the plaintiff in that case was hospitalized for eight days with third-degree burns from coffee being served much, much hotter than industry standard...and that the original amount of the lawsuit - $20,000 - barely covered her medical bills and expenses.

It's easy to sit in front of a computer and judge people based on a couple of pieces of information. It's a lot harder to think critically about an incident and consider all of the possibilities before leaping to a conclusion.

-Nate

Last edited by coasterdude318, Saturday, February 12, 2011 12:00 PM
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Saturday, February 12, 2011 12:19 PM

^Thank you for supporting/promoting personal irresponsibility...

The family was served nachos, which most likely means that the parents purchased the nachos and might have handed them to the kid or the kid took them off the counter. Further along at some point the kid spilled the nachos on himself. It sucks that he was hurt so bad, but this is like buying a butter knife at the store, taking it home, cutting yourself on accident, and then suing the company that made the butter knife, because it was too sharp. If the person who made the nachos spilled it on the kid, I think that is a legitimate lawsuit, but as it states it in the article the kid spilled it on himself.


Bolliger/Mabillard for President in '08 NOT Dinn/Summers

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Saturday, February 12, 2011 12:24 PM

How is suggesting that people consider not being so judgemental "promoting irresponsibility?" I never said Disney was at fault and that the lawsuit was absolutely legitimate, so thanks for proving my point about being quick to judge others.

Assume for the moment that the nacho cheese was served at a significantly hotter temperature than normal. That would be both irresponsible and negligent on Disney's part, and Disney would therefore shoulder a portion of the blame. That's not like cutting yourself on a butter knife. It's like buying something that says "butter knife" on the package and cutting yourself on it because it was actually a ginsu knife.

-Nate

Last edited by coasterdude318, Saturday, February 12, 2011 12:36 PM
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Saturday, February 12, 2011 12:51 PM

And four-year-olds usually handle their own food. That's normal. I can see it being the parent's fault for not checking if the cheese sauce was hot enough to burn a blister into the boy's skin, but I don't know how many people would think about the cheese sauce being that hot in the first place.

Oh give me a break.

Anything that is usually a solid to begin with (cheese at room temperature) that is now in a liquid state was initially HEATED at high temperatures to achieve its liquid state (nacho cheese).

How do you expect it to NOT be hot?

Totally a money grab. And them being from Chula Vista totally explains it.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011 2:26 PM
OhioStater's avatar

I worked at a movie theater in my teens that served nachos. I can tell you with 100% certainty that if you poured the cheese over your head, you would get blisters from the burn.

People will undoubtedly compare this case to the rather infamous McDonald's coffee lawsuit. And I'm guessing the vast majority of people who cite that case as an example of a "frivolous lawsuit" also don't realize that the plaintiff in that case was hospitalized for eight days with third-degree burns from coffee being served much, much hotter than industry standard...and that the original amount of the lawsuit - $20,000 - barely covered her medical bills and expenses.

And she should have ended up with zero dollars. And then gone to prison for starting such a retarded trend.


Do I feel sorry for the kid? Of course...that goes without saying. This is a little different than the poor girl at Six Flags who had her legs cut off.


All food served should now come with a coupon that reads "once this food goes into your hands, you are responsible for it".

Last edited by OhioStater, Saturday, February 12, 2011 2:47 PM
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Saturday, February 12, 2011 3:26 PM

Wow. I guess all I can say is that I'm happy I don't live in your world. I can't imagine anyone truly believing someone should face jail time for exercising his or her rights and for not breaking a law.

I don't believe companies should be held responsible for a consumer misusing a product. But when a product potentially poses an unexpected danger to a consumer due to falling outside of industry standards or recognized norms, I believe there is some liability there.

No food/beverage should ever be served at a temperature hot enough to cause third-degree burns from a brief exposure. There's simply no reason for it. I think probably everyone here has probably had nachos before. We're not talking about dunking your head in a vat of cheese; we're talking about an amount of spilled cheese causing burns major enough to require treatment 11 months post-burn. To me, that strongly suggests that the cheese was hotter than what is normally found, and certainly hotter than necessary.

Again, I don't believe anyone can confidently lay blame without knowing more of the facts of this case. But to suggest that these parents should go to jail or have their kids taken from them without even knowing exactly what happenedseems both excessive and ignorant.

And finally, for what it's worth, nacho cheese is not a solid at room temperature. It's certainly not being heated to achieve a liquid state.

-Nate

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Saturday, February 12, 2011 3:30 PM
OhioStater's avatar

I can't imagine anyone truly believing someone should face jail time for exercising his or her rights and for not breaking a law.

And if you thought I was being serious about prison time, I'm not sure what else to say.

And for what it's worth, our nacho cheese was solid. We had to melt it every day. And then we re-used it every day. For years. Eating it would most likely lead to death. Or at least diarrhea.

"Typically, to cause the type of burns that Isaiah experienced, the nacho cheese would... have been at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit," said Cahill, who admits he does not know the exact temperature of the cheese at the time.

And guess what? Nacho cheese warmers maintain temperatures of 140 - 160. Yes, I actually was a big enough nerd to look that up.

Last edited by OhioStater, Saturday, February 12, 2011 3:53 PM
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Saturday, February 12, 2011 3:58 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

OhioStater, have you read the real story about the McD's lawsuit? The media portrayed that as a frivolous lawsuit, but in reality, McDonalds was not only liable, but completely arrogant, and should have offered to settle with the woman when she simply asked for them to cover her medical bills after they served her hot coffee that they had been warned numerous times (and had complains numerous times before) reporting that the coffee was too hot. They were warned by customers AND experts and they didn't listen. That woman had every right to sue.

I worked at a movie theater in my teens that served nachos. I can tell you with 100% certainty that if you poured the cheese over your head, you would get blisters from the burn.

I did as well and I agree with you. In fact, our boss, who was very by the book and was super clean and what not but had us keep the cheese down lower than the manufacturer's suggested temp on the cheese warmer/dispenser because she felt it was too hot for customers, but the local health inspector made us turn it up to the suggested temp due to health concerns. We had several signs that the cheese was REALLY hot, and it was. In this particular case, having seen the blister, I still don't think this is an issue where they in any case should be suing Disney.

And finally, for what it's worth, nacho cheese is not a solid at room temperature. It's certainly not being heated to achieve a liquid state.

But the type that goes in those dispensers has to be kept at a certain temp for health reasons to kill bacteria. Unlike OhioStater, we had the bags of it that stayed in the cheese warmer until the bag ran out, and it had to be kept at a certain temp. It was a liquid when we received it in shipping, and we had a certain time that we had to get it in the dispenser and heat it up for use or it went bad very quickly. Usually those dispensers (the ones I've worked with) go to a max temp which is what the manufacturer and distributer (and health dept) suggest you keep it at.

I doubt this is a case of the kid just dropping nacho cheese on his lip, wiping it off, and getting a blister. Knowing kids, he probably got some on his lip, took a second to realize it burned, then started crying and it probably took a second or 2 before the parents reacted and got it off. I'm sorry, but again, a 4 year old shouldn't be eating hot nacho cheese.

HOT Nacho cheese is HOT. I wouldn't be buying it for a 4 year old to eat anywho...

Last edited by Tekwardo, Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:07 PM

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Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:05 PM
OhioStater's avatar

I have read the case, and I agree that McDonald's acted somewhat arrogant, but I also think the lady did not deserve a penny. If her diet Coke was for some reason boiling, and she got burnt by it, OK. This was coffee. Coffee. Hot, hot, hot, hot coffee. The fact that there needs to be a warning about hot coffee is absurd. They should not have had to cover her medical bills, in my opinion. It's an accident. It's part of life. Crap happens.

In America, if it happens, to you, there's a lawyer out there (who is really only interested in his/her wallet, not some human interest) ready to help you cash in.

I'm perfectly happy to agree to disagree.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:09 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Normally I would agree, but when a corporation is warned by experts that they keep something too hot, and have numerous complaints constantly, and they choose not to act on it by lowering the temp in an attempt to save money and keep the coffee longer, then they're liable when someone gets burned. I always felt the same way until I read up on how McDonald's kept getting warned. I don't think she should have gotten the money she did, but that's the price McDonald's pays for refusing to keep customers from being burned.

There's hot coffee, and then there is boiling water. She didn't order the latter, but that's pretty much what she got...


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Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:20 PM

Who should I contact to sue the sun? I had giant blisters on the tops of my feet when I didn't put sunscreen on them at the beach. No one warned me that the sun is hot, and could cause the tops of my feet to burn and blister! Maybe I should just sue disney instead, it's probably their fault anyway.

Last edited by Degado, Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:25 PM
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Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:39 PM
LostKause's avatar

coasterdude318 said:

No food/beverage should ever be served at a temperature hot enough to cause third-degree burns from a brief exposure.

I agree with this part especially. Food being hot enough to cause burns this severe is unexpected. If the cheese actually went into his mouth instead of onto his face, it would have burned his mouth instead, possibly causing severe burns anyways.

I worked at Sheetz once for about a year. The nacho cheese that they used was already liquid in the bag before it went into the cheese warmer / dispenser. I don't recall if it needed to be maintained at 160° though.


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Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:49 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Yes, it does, between 140-160. (I also worked at Sheetz).

Last edited by Tekwardo, Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:49 PM

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Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:56 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Just to put some stuff into perspective, I found this information on how long and at what temps it takes to cause 3rd degree burns:

at 113 degrees you get a 3rd degree burn after 5 hours
at 116.6 degrees, after 45 minutes
at 118.4 degrees, after 20 minutes
at 120, after 10 minutes
at 124, after 4.2 minutes
at 131, after 30 seconds
and at 140, after 5 seconds.
All temperatures are in Farenheit.

It takes 5 seconds for a 3rd degree burn to set in. But...count to five. That's quite a long time when it comes to letting something hot sit on your lip.

But...this was a 4 year old child. Where an adult would immediately know what to do to get the cheese off, he probably only knew to scream and cry. Perhaps he started to burn and started screaming, and it took a couple seconds for the parents to figure out what was wrong. Maybe it to 7 seconds to get the cheese off.

I still don't think that's Disney's fault. This was a 4 year old child that shouldn't have had the product. Should the parents of the child in Asia that was smoking at 1 year old sue the cig companies because the father gave him one at 1 year old and let him smoke? The kid is overweight and a chain smoker. The kid isn't old enough to make the decision to smoke.

Tell me this, would you give your child Coffee? Coffee is supposed to be served at between 155 and 175 degrees, both over that 5 second threshold for a third degree burn, but around the 140-160 degree temp of the cheese. But what about hot chocolate? Well, it's suggested to be served at 120 degrees, which takes ten minutes to burn.

Why didn't they give him some coffee to drink?

Because he's four.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:58 PM

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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011 5:01 PM

Some of what I've found online has suggested nacho cheese should be kept between 140 and 155 degrees. Five degrees may sound minor, but even miniscule temperature increases cause a significant decrease in the exposure time before burning. For instance, temps of 140 degrees can cause third-degree burns after 8 seconds. Increase the temp to 160, and you're looking at burns after just 2 seconds.

But all that said, who's to say that Disney's cheese was kept at those temps? That's the point I've been trying to make all along. Nobody knows what the temperature of the cheese was, nor the length of exposure or the circumstances surrounding it. So I think there's been a rather quick rush to judgemnt by many people here. (We also don't know how much money they're seeking, so I also think it's premature to assume they're just suing to make a quick buck).

I also wonder of the manufacturer of the cheese warmer could have some liability here. Depending on whether or not Disney was following the manufacturer's recommendations/instructions, I could see that being a possibility as well.

-Nate

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