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.

Monday, February 14, 2011 10:14 AM

I wonder how good the family's health insurance, or if they even have health insurance? Healthcare in your country is insanely expensive, even for a simple visit to the hospital to treat a burn.

I would not be surprised if the family is trying to cover their medical bills.

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Monday, February 14, 2011 10:17 AM
rollergator's avatar

djDaemon said:
That said, I think it goes without saying that Disney is going to settle.

And that to me is part of the problem AND part of the solution. Huge settlements tend to make/allow people to abrogate their own personal responsibility for their safety and that of their family members. Also, knowing Disney's penchant for quick and quiet settlements leads people to immediately think "lawsuit" - meaning more lawsuits in the near future.

By the same token, big losses DO tend to motivate businesses to act swiftly - something comment cards are notoriously poor at accomplishing.


You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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Monday, February 14, 2011 11:18 AM
Tekwardo's avatar

Muncie All Star said:
Regardless, you shouldn't be handed food that is going to scald you.

Then don't drink coffee, eat hot nacho cheese, or order countless other foods that are required to be kept at a temperature of at least 140* (and trust me, there are plenty).

I'm not a health inspector, but good grief, do you really need nacho cheese to be so hot that you have to let it cool down before you eat it?

According to the health inspector, yes. Having actually used these type of cheese dispensors and having experience cleaning them and maintaining them, the cheese must be kept at a certain temperature or stuff starts growing.

When I worked at Sheetz, during the winter, we received a shipment of nacho cheese that, due to weather, was just about 2 days past the (very short) use by date, and should have been heated 2 days prior to our receiving it. It had nasty stuff in it and we had to write it off as waste. Cheese is not something to play around with.

There must be an appropriate level of cheese temperature that would keep out any food borne bacteria and not cause burns.

Like was posted earlier, if you serve the cheese at around 140*, it takes 5 seconds to cause 3rd degree burns. As an adult, you're responsible enough to not let the cheese sit on your lip for a full 5 seconds. Four year old children aren't. And the appropriate level of keeping the cheese is apparently between 140* and 160*. Just an FYI, according to most sites I've looked at, the lowest temperature that hot food (any hot food) should be kept at is 140*, which, according to the chart on page 2, only takes 5 seconds to cause a 3rd degree burn. So 140* temps for any food will burn you after 5 seconds of exposure. If you dont' want to run the risk, don't eat any hot food that isn't cooked to order.

I would expect any food I order to be served at an appropriate temperature. Even if I spill it, I shouldn't expect to be scalded like that child.

But 140* is an appropriate temperature. Oh, and you should always re-heat any food that has cooled (leftovers, etc.) at 165*. These are health standards.

Difference is, if an adult spills it, they know what to do, unlike a 4 year old.


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Monday, February 14, 2011 11:36 AM

One question, though...

The cheese sits in the dispenser at 160 degrees or whatever.

Given that it oozes out in a relatively narrow stream in open air, then sits on warm chips, what is the normal rate at which that heat is dissipated? How quickly do the nachos get from cheese dispenser to customer? The real issue isn't the temperature when the molten cheese comes out of the dispenser, the temperature issue is how warm is the cheese when it crosses the service counter?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


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Monday, February 14, 2011 12:55 PM

Tek, the problem I see here is that the parents are sue happy. They refused to take responsibility for thier own actions and put it where it shouldn't be. After the product gets in the hands of the consumer then the responsibility is placed on the consumer. The parents need to take responsibility for the accident of their 4 year old spilling the cheese sauce on his head and face. I feel sorry for the kid but it was his own fault for doing that.

In the case of the hot coffee at McD's, the customer knew that the coffee was hot and should have let it cooled off to some degree before drinking it. I know that there was a rash of suits filed because the idiots deliberately spilled the coffee in the laps and then claimed it was MCD's for thier accident.

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Monday, February 14, 2011 1:27 PM

Majorcut said:
In the case of the hot coffee at McD's, the customer knew that the coffee was hot and should have let it cooled off to some degree before drinking it.

Are you deliberately ignoring what others are posting regarding the McDonald's law suit?


Brandon | Facebook

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Monday, February 14, 2011 1:30 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

Majorcut said:

In the case of the hot coffee at McD's, the customer knew that the coffee was hot and should have let it cooled off to some degree before drinking it.

Do you even know what happened in that suit? She didn't "drink" the coffee. It was served at almost boiling, and when she set it between her legs (her fault, I agree, but still shouldn't have been that hot) and it spilled, it caused burns that it shouldn't have. Burns that should have been prevented had McDonald's payed attention to experts, and previous complaints.

The point wasn't that she was burned on hot coffee, it was that the coffee was so far beyond reasonable, temperature-wise, that it did way more just cause a little redness when spilled.


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Monday, February 14, 2011 1:53 PM

Not having much in the way of experience with cheese dispensers, can you really control the temperature settings the same you can with, say...an oven or stove? I admit that I don't know how the dispensers that use bags really work, but I've seen several of those large metal tub cheese dispensers that you either ladle out or squirt out (think large hot fudge tubs) up close, and from what I recall there is simply an on/off switch and it is more like a single setting slow-cooker. Doesn't seem like you could overheat the cheese with one of those, but maybe the newer, upright bag dispensers have controls on them; though I wouldn't see the need as the cheese must be kept within a certain temperature range and the ability to lower or raise the temp. beyond that range just seems...useless.

Last edited by maXairMike, Monday, February 14, 2011 1:54 PM

Original BlueStreak64

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Monday, February 14, 2011 2:33 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Dave-The cheese is to be put on just before you give it to the customer. I'd say just a few seconds if that between cheese dispensation to handing it over.

Majorcut-Not if, as Andy and Nate have said could be the case, the company (Disney/Mcdonalds) is keeping the temperature too high. In this case we don't know, but based on what was said in the article that the cheese that caused the burn was likely 160*, that would be within the limit of what it's supposed to be heated at. I think the parents are responsible, but that doesn't necessarily mean thats the case, and yes, it does depend on the circumstances and temp surrounding said cheese.

Mike-be it the ladle kind or the dispenser kind, there is always a temperature knob. At least from what I've seen, and I've worked with both, both in a business setting (Sheetz/movie theater) and as a volunteer at the high school football game concession stands as late as last year.

Nacho Cheese is hot. Too hot for children, IMO. We're all speculating without cold hard facts (Or should that be hot, melty facts?). We have a difference of opinion. That being said, don't ignore that information that has been stated if you're going to comment, jeesh.


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Monday, February 14, 2011 2:38 PM
birdhombre's avatar

I'm just surprised that "nacho cheese" contains real cheese at all, let alone anything that was capable of keeping bacteria alive. :)

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Monday, February 14, 2011 3:02 PM

Tek, stop defending this lawsuit which is a joke to begin with. You are putting the responsibility on Disney for the little kid for pour the cheese sauce on himself.

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Monday, February 14, 2011 3:07 PM

With how little info we have, no one is in a position to have an informed position on this lawsuit. It's just as irresponsible and misguided to blame the plaintiff as it is to blame the defendant at this point.


Brandon | Facebook

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Monday, February 14, 2011 3:14 PM
rollergator's avatar

^Well put, Brandon. When, and if, the facts truly come to light, then we MAY be in a better position to judge.

Let's just say for the sake of argument that this is the 16th different customer to get badly burned on their nachos (half sued, half simply filed complaints with Corporate) - and that Disney keeps setting the temp on the cheese sauce too high (170* for instance)...would you feel that the lawsuit is still "absolutely frivolous"? Lawsuits do serve a purpose beyond compensating injured parties.

All that being said - parenting varies WIDELY from person to person...if you have kids yourself, please err on the side of caution. Thanks.


You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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Monday, February 14, 2011 3:18 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

Majorcut said:
Tek, stop defending this lawsuit which is a joke to begin with. You are putting the responsibility on Disney for the little kid for pour the cheese sauce on himself.

LOL U mad bro?


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Monday, February 14, 2011 3:20 PM

Ahh, memes. :)


Brandon | Facebook

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Monday, February 14, 2011 3:45 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Where in the Sam Hill did I ever defend the lawsuit. Heck, I stated that I didn't even feel sorry for the kid. Read the information, jebus...

Read what rollergator said. If Disney is serving hot nacho cheese at an unsafe temp, then they're likely going to be sued at some point. And that's what happened to McDonalds because they were serving a dangerous product.

What if the tables were turned, and Disney kept their nacho cheese below safety standards and people kept getting sick? Who is at fault?

But, now, if there was a warning that the food may not be safe for consumption and some parents purchased it and gave it to their 4 year old, then what?

I'm only giving my personal opinion here. I think it's a stupid lawsuit that will get settled out of court. I think it's assanine to give a 4 year old any food that is hot (Coffee, nacho cheese, hot chocolate, etc) because 4 year olds aren't responsible.

But what Nate and Andy and others (including myself) have pointed out is that if Disney was out of compliance, knew they were out of compliance, and remained out of compliance, then the people have the right to sue.

Actually, the have the right to sue regardless, and I think that's what's going on here, but I digress...


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

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Monday, February 14, 2011 4:47 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Vater said:
So was the post 'undeleted'? Because it's there, right above mine.

Yep. It seems it was undeleted.


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Monday, February 14, 2011 5:27 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

djDaemon said:
Ahh, memes. :)

Sometimes, they're just so appropriate.


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011 4:08 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

I sat on a jury once for a civil lawsuit and it was one of those cases where if I had my regular Carrie hat on reading the newspaper or posting on CBuzz and passing judgment, I would have thought there was only one logical way to view the case. But after the law was read to us by the judge and we were reminded of our responsibility to stick to and uphold the law as it was written, there ended up being only one way to "rule" and it happened to defy logic. That's just the way it goes sometimes.

Not everything is as black and white as it seems when you read about it in the news.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011 7:01 PM
OhioStater's avatar

But after the law was read to us by the judge and we were reminded of our responsibility to stick to and uphold the law as it was written, there ended up being only one way to "rule" and it happened to defy logic. That's just the way it goes sometimes.

That does not mean you cannot act differently based on what you believe is right. That makes for a speedy trial outcome. Of course, you may get labeled as an "activist juror" and keep them held (and not make many friends in the process).

That's one way laws get changed. Like the Bush-labeled "activist judges" who did the right thing by marrying homosexual couples...when something breaks morality, you can choose a different path.

Last edited by OhioStater, Tuesday, February 15, 2011 7:03 PM
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