Texas Deputy Sues 911 Caller For Not 'Adequately Warning' Him Of Potential Danger Or 'Making The Premises Safe'

from the so,-you-want-to-get-paid-for-investigating-only-'safe'-situations? dept

A very unique lawsuit being filed by a Texas sheriff’s deputy has the chance to set a very chilling precedent if the court finds in favor of the plaintiff. In the history of ridiculous personal injury lawsuits, this one sets a new standard. Sure, we’ve seen criminals sue homeowners for injuries sustained during burglaries and customers sue businesses for their own failure to recognize that traditionally hot liquids are hot [a false equivalent as pointed out by many, many commenters — my bad {TC}], but this is a brand new angle.

Here are the details on this recently-filed lawsuit.

A Houston-area deputy has sued the family of a man he fatally shot following a 911 call last year, alleging he and others who responded were not properly warned about the danger they faced.

In a lawsuit filed this week, Harris County sheriff’s Deputy Brady Pullen is seeking up to $200,000 from Carmina Figueroa, a relative of Kemal Yazar, for injuries he suffered, including a concussion and a broken nose…

Figueroa “had a duty to exercise ordinary care in adequately (warning) others that her resident or guest Kamal Yazar posed a violent threat to others due to his ingestion or smoking of ‘bath salts’ or some other mind altering substance, and to make the premises safe,” according to the lawsuit.

Pullen is seeking damages for past and future medical expenses, mental anguish and loss of past earning capacity.

Yes, a deputy is suing the family of a man he killed because he escaped the presumably deadly situation with a concussion and broken nose. Notably, other responding officers have decided not to file suit — perhaps because they sustained no injuries, or perhaps because doing so would be incredibly stupid.

Two things that should be noted:

First, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia admits the lawsuit is “unusual” but is taking a hands-off approach to Pullen’s legal battle. But more interesting than that is that the shooting itself is still “under investigation” despite occurring nearly 8 months ago on December 30, 2012. Apparently, Pullen and others involved have been on “paid administrative leave” since that point.

Second, and more pertinent to the case at hand, Pullen’s own filing claims that he was called to the scene by EMS responders, which would place the liability for an “improper warning” on the EMS unit, not the homeowner. The first responders should have been able to convey any warning about the potential danger of the situation, and from Pullen’s own words, they actually did.

On information and belief, someone at Defendant Figueroa’s residence placed a “911” call on December 30, 2012, and requested that an ambulance be sent to Defendant’s residence to treat Kemal Yazar who had been either smoking or ingesting a drug commonly called “bath salts” or some other mind altering substance for days. At some point in time, prior to calling EMS, because of Kemal Yazar’s state of mind, Defendant decided to evacuate the children from the home for safety reasons. Plaintiff, a Harris County Deputy Sheriff, was dispatched to Defendant’s residence to assist EMS with an “aggressive or non compliant person“.

It certainly isn’t the 911 caller’s duty to provide the officer with all the details he or she will need to assess the situation. They aren’t trained professionals who can provide an accurate assessment of the danger level. 911 callers are often in danger themselves, something that often prevents them from going into detail.

More bizarrely, Pullen claims 911 callers have a “duty” to “make the premises safe.” If for no other reason, the lawsuit should be tossed because of this claim. What does Deputy Pullen think the emergency phone number is for? Reporting jaywalking and check fraud? The logic Pullen’s deploying absolutely boggles the mind.

And even if you buy all of Pullen’s ridiculous arguments, the fact remains that the defendant didn’t call him to the scene. The EMS unit did and that’s where the “liability” should lay.

Beyond that, there’s the fact that law enforcement officers know that every situation they walk into is potentially dangerous, as Sheriff Garcia himself points out.

“As trained public servants, our presumption when receiving and responding to emergency calls is that there is an element of danger present. As public servants, it is our duty to respond to those calls as quickly as possible,” Garcia said.

Attorney Joel Androphy says this lawsuit is highly problematic for citizens who find themselves in dangerous situations.

He adds, “if you allow suits like this to go forward, it will have a chilling effect on all people that want to make 9-1-1 calls because they will be afraid if something happens to the police officer”.

Valerie Salvati points out how far a suit like this would extend liability:

It would also raise the question of if an officer gets hurt on your property if you didn’t call them for help. Should a homeowner be responsible for the injuries of someone he didn’t want there in the first place? What if the homeowner isn’t aware of the extent of the danger in a given situation? It would seem more appropriate for this to be handled by workers compensation than in suing the homeowner.

Another attorney is even harsher in his assessment of Pullen’s case:

Criminal Attorney Brian Wice calls the lawsuit “a slap in the face to first responders everywhere.”

“Look, police officers know everyday, everywhere they go, they could be in a dangerous situation, so this guy is going to try step out and collect money for taking that risk,” said Wice.

Holding individuals responsible for the actions of other adults has always been a terrible idea. Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against someone else simply because the person who actually injured you is dead is a new low bar for vindictive pettiness. Doing this as a law enforcement officer whose job expectations include the possibility of being injured or killed — and as someone who was warned the situation would be dangerous — sets the bar so low its indistiguishable from the ground.

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Comments on “Texas Deputy Sues 911 Caller For Not 'Adequately Warning' Him Of Potential Danger Or 'Making The Premises Safe'”

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Rabbit80 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Erm what????

A kettle boils at 100?C – the same temperature as the boiling water from McDonalds coffee machines. That’s a law of physics. also a quarter of the temperature of boiling would be -179?C, pretty close to the boiling temperature of liquid oxygen. This would indeed give you severe burns, of the frostbite kind!


Re: Re: The physics of coffee.

Hot water cools down. It cools down quickly. Even boiling water will quickly cool down to a safe temperature for handling. This is why home brewed coffee and coffee obtained from other vendors is far less dangerous than what McDonalds was selling.

A few degrees matter and McDonalds was ignoring common industry practice as well as damaging the product.

They were cutting corners and knew they were creating a more dangerous situation. They also sought to suppress coverage of the situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The physics of coffee.

” Even boiling water will quickly cool down to a safe temperature for handling.”

Depends on whether or not it’s covered. Water has a high heat of vaporization so if it’s uncovered as it evaporates it takes a lot of heat with it. If it’s covered it will cool down much more slowly since now all of the heat must escape through matter (and it’s not forget that coffee cups are intentionally low conductors of heat so that they can maintain heat).

In fact the high heat of vaporization of water can be used to very cheaply keep your house cool by pouring cheap tap water on, say, your roof. As even small amounts of water vaporize it takes enormous amounts of heat with it (you can do the math) and it would be much cheaper than air conditioning. However, in some places with droughts this maybe illegal, particularly places where tap water is government subsidized.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Agree. The McDonald’s coffee lawsuit is thoroughly misunderstood based on very early media stories. The temperature of the coffee was way above what even reasonably hot coffee should have been, and if I’m remembering right, left second degree burns after a very brief exposure. Since Techdirt normally likes to heap scorn on the media for leaving out very important details, it should not perpetuate myths even if they have become part of the cultural record.

Just keeping you honest, Tim.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re:

And you know what else makes this a spectacular fail every single time some pundit tries to exploit it?

The woman tried to reason with McDonalds, asking only for the money to cover medical expenses and lost income, totaling about $20k (her current medical bills had been about $10k at the time). McDonalds offered her $800.

McDonalds was progressively offered larger settlements throughout litigation – $90k, $300k. The jury gave her $160k in compensation and $2.7 million in punitive damages – two days worth of coffee revenue for McDonalds. The judge eventually reduced that to 3x compensation damages, and she settled with them before the appeal.

Liebeck vs. McDonalds is perhaps one of the worst examples to use when remarking on the excess of litigation in our society.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Or they wanted to serve it as expediently as possible to get on to the next customer. The coffee maker they used was close to what a barista would use today since the temperature of the water pulls out more flavour from the beans, making the coffee arguably better. At the time it was determined that the common temperature of coffee was about 60? C, which is right around the temperature when it is best to drink.

Basically the story has been butchered twice.

First time, by people claiming that hot coffee = logic and sueing over it is ridiculous.
The other butchering is what is getting repeated here, where McDonalds is suddenly the evil empire without a care for their customer.

The truth is that the case was mostly spectacular because of the unusual circumstances. McDonalds overhearing warnings and not following their competitors more cautious approach was what tipped the bread-basket.

The only extreme thing about the case was the compensation and damages awarded. The rest was a judgement call on an unclear issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The other butchering is what is getting repeated here, where McDonalds is suddenly the evil empire without a care for their customer.

McDonalds overhearing warnings and not following their competitors more cautious approach was what tipped the bread-basket.

Just to be clear, McDonalds didn’t “overhear warnings” 700 customers had filed complaints in a 10 year period and they had paid out over $500,000 is settlements with people similarly burned.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Hence why I mentioned the expedience, which is a big part of the problem. How many customers in a fast-food restaurant would wait 10 minutes for a coffee when they specifically chose the place for its fast service?
Waiting 10 minutes, changing to another type of brewer or having storage with the right temperature could have saved McDonalds the trouble. In this case they could have compromised the quailty and installed a sufficiently heated storage or used lower temperature coffee brewers, which they didn’t.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Actually, you are badly mistaken

The proper brewing temperature for coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. McDonalds procedures and policies call for coffee to be brewed at a temperature between 176 and 194 degrees — already cooler than the traditional temperature.

Coffee that is not served immediately after brewing starts to taste bad in direct proportion to how long since it was brewed. It’s not possible to cool coffee to safe bathing temperatures without diluting it or producing iced coffee instead of hot coffee.

If your home made coffee is a quarter the temperature of McDonald’s coffee, you’re doing it wrong.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

Just yesterday I was telling a friend about how great Techdirt is, and the comments are on-topic by intelligent well-read people. I sure hope she doesn’t read this thread.

Facts from the Coffee trial: Coffee can cause burns above 130F. McDonalds stores its coffee at 180-190F. McDonalds was punished for not warning anyone that its coffee was hotter than it needed to be. See https://www.citizen.org/congress/civjus/archive/tort/myths/articles.cfm?ID=785 or http://centerjd.org/content/faq-about-mcdonald%E2%80%99s-coffee-case-and-use-fabricated-anecdotes.

Secondly for the person who came up with -170 degrees after dividing by four, time to go back to the 4th grade. That IS where you didn’t learn division, right? No positive number divided by four gives you any negative number. Since using the little calculator icon seems difficult this morning for you allow me to help out. 180F/4=45F. Note that there’s no reference in the article to a quarter the temp… it’s just inane bickering amongst commentators on this thread.

Finally one commentator said this lawsuit was probably in retaliation for the deputy still being under investigation. Perhaps someone could point out where in the article it says that the 8 month investigation is as a RESULT OF or CAUSED BY or its length is LONGER DUE TO any such effort on the part of the family. (Of course if it were so that would make the deputy’s position EVEN weaker.)

Cheers and don’t go forgittin’ yall’s gazintas.


Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

He said “a quarter of the temperature” not “a quarter of the thermal energy.” Either would be irrelevant to this discussion, but since he said “temperature” and not “energy” it’s fair to use any common scale.

You do get that the whole “four times” or “divided by four” means nothing and shouldn’t have even entered this discussion, right?

There’s no positive liquid coffee temperature reading (which C, F, and K use, but feel free to invent your own) which when divided by any positive integer (e.g. 4) yields a negative number.

So “No, he’s completely right” is wrong.



Rabbit80 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

No – I am right.

Let me spell it out for you. The only sensible scale to use when saying a quarter of the temperature is kelvin since all other scales go into minus figures and its impossible as you say to divide using minus figures. EG – what’s a quarter of -100 F? -25 F is hotter?

Boiling water = 373K
Quarter of the temperature is 93.25K
Convert to Celsius = -179.25 C

Since I live in a country that uses Celsius, that is my preferred unit for quoting temperature.

My point was literally that using something like “1/4 the temp of..” was stupid. In that we are in agreement I think!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

No, you are completely wrong. 99.999999% of people on this planet would understand his statement to mean 1/4 of 100 or 25 Degrees. That you take his words and, ignoring the obvious meaning of them, re-interpret them speaks more to your idiocy than to his error.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

I’m an engineer, and saying 1/4 of 100 C is 25 C is just plain ridiculous. You have to move to an absolute scale.

Think about it, in your world, you’ll get different answers depending on whether you start with Fahrenheit or Celsius, which is crazy. You have to convert to Rankine or Kelvin and then do the calculation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

Just to fight a little more…

You sure as hell can take 1/4 of 100C – the units are right in the damn equation.

This is basic math.

You are using applied math, which is too complicated for most people.

Also let’s remember that a statement like ‘1/4 of the temperature’ was hardly meant to be scientifically accurate.

This is literally the dumbest argument in the history of history. Yeah, literally

DataShade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

It depends on whether you’re responding to a technical specification that an object be cooled to “1/4 -4C” or if, say, you hand someone a drink with ice cubes in it and they go “whoa how cold is that drink, it feels like it’s -4 degrees, it should be like 1/4 as cold as that!”

Don’t be pedantic. Or, rather, don’t be needlessly pedantic.

aldestrawk says:

Re: Re: Re:2 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

In casual conversation (e.g. not in a science lab) we often make comparisons or descriptions that aren’t scientifically accurate. I don’t start criticizing people when they talk about the sun going down. Similarly, we often talk about weight when we really mean mass. The discussion is about hot coffee, so making a ratio comparison assuming only positive temperatures, while scientifically inaccurate, serves the function of a loose comparison of how hot the coffee is. I understood the point Silverscarcat was trying to make, although he should have included whether the scale he was using was Celcius or Fahrenheit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

100 Deg C = 373.15 Deg Kelvin

25 Deg C = 298.15 Deg K

298Deg K = 76.73 deg F

A bit different to a cup of boiling water (100degC) becoming an ice cube the temperature of Liquid Oxygen when it cools to a quarter of it’s original temperature !!

PlayNicely says:

Re: Re: Re: McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

You do realize that the temperatures at which the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales are zero are a matter of definition, i.e. arbitrary?

Multiplication and division simply do not work in these scales, if for no other reason than that the result of multiplication or division would depend on which scale you used. The only sensible temperature scales when talking about multiplication or division are those that share a well-defined zero, for example the kelvin scale.

You might want to catch up on basic physics before turning to the forum filled with righteous indignation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

not arbitrary but based on ‘something’. It’s assumed that 1/4 of something is 1 fourth of it’s original end value.

So if you had a cup of boiling water at 100Deg C you would say 1/4 of 100 Degrees is 25 degrees.

If you have a fridge that is at 0 DegC and you set it to -4 Deg C, when it is at -1 C is can be said it’s at 1/4 of it’s final (set) temporary.

It’s not arbitrary and 0C does not mean NO HEAT, because you can have minus temps on the Celsius scale.

In engineering it’s called an ‘offset and span’ problem, or a scaling problem, you cant simply convert it to another scale then divide that number by 4 and convert back.. That would be STUPID.

But there are a lot of stupid people about..

what is 1/4 of $4000 in debt (ie -$4000) it would be -$1000.

It’s not very hard, even some TD readers will get it, the ones still capable of self thought..

So if I owe you $4 Dollars and I give you a quarter of what I owe you I would give you $1.

crade (profile) says:

Re: McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

Mcdonalds was punished for having coffee the way their customers wanted it and now I have to drink cold coffee and be treated like a moron with a label that says “warning, coffee is hot you frickin moron” because someone spilled it on themselves. And your comment is ridiculous. Coffee doesn’t “need” to be any temperature, they just sell it at the temperature that they have decided most of their customers like it at (at least before, now they sell it so it goes cold before you get it back to your table)..

Whatever temperature they serve the damn coffee at, it’s hot enough to burn you dumbass so be careful with it. You shouldn’t need a label calling us all morons to know that.

WysiWyg (profile) says:

Re: Re: McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

There’s a pretty big difference between “oh, that’s hot” and “OH MY GOD I’M ON FIRE!” hot. Or, in other words, if my coffee can give me second degrees burns, then HELL YES they should need to put a nice warning label on it, something along the lines of “will kill you if ingested directly”.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

Mcdonalds was punished for having coffee the way their customers wanted it

Actually, no. The McDonald’s coffee case wasn’t that simple at all, and once I learned about it more, I realized that the decision was more right than wrong. For example, that McDonald’s had, over a period of years, received many, many complaints about the temperature of the coffee and at least several people had been badly burned. It wasn’t “the way customers wanted”.

It’s very interesting to read up on the actual facts of the case and compare them to how the case is consistently portrayed in the media — the media portrayal is so wrong that you’d think they were talking about two entirely different things. It’s a case study of how misleading the news media can be.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

The only way the decision could be more right than wrong would be if mcdonalds were actually at fault, and for that to be true they would have had actually done something wrong like spilled the coffee on the customer or used a faulty cup that melted or something. Serving their coffee hotter than usual is not doing something wrong.

It makes absolutely no difference how “oh so super duper hot way above boiling” their coffee was, that is completely irrelevent. Coffee is supposed to be hot and there is nothing wrong with making it hotter than usual and it doesn’t need a warning to tell you it’s hot. It doesn’t even matter if thats not how the customers wanted it, it’s up to them how hot they want to serve their coffee, and if the customers don’t like the temperature mcd’s served their coffee at they can easily go somewhere that likes to serve it colder.

Actually, hereabouts, we have cups that say “if you were in the U.S., we would have to tell you: coffee it hot”. But even here we still can’t get hot coffee in a restaurant anymore, and I have to nuke my coffee right out of the keurig devices or it will be cold before I can drink it..

Even more ridiculous, you gotta boil tea to steap it, so your tea is still going to be really hot anyway.


Re: Re: Re:2 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

for that to be true they would have had actually done something wrong like spilled the coffee on the customer

You mean like keeping the coffee at an unusual and dangerously high temperature?

You have a very crude understanding of personal responsibility.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

Of course not, Coffee is supposed to be at dangerously high temperature. If it’s wrong to keep your coffee hot, I’m going to hell.

It’s not wrong to keep your tea hot either except apparently people can figure out that it’s fine for tea but somehow for coffee it’s wrong.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

Yes, my understanding of personal responsiblity must seem crude to someone who blames the coffee.

If you are wearing thin pants, it could burn worse.. No, no, I know what you are thinking, but it’s not the pants fault.. If you are driving while holding your coffee, it’s more likely to spill.. No, no it’s not the car’s fault or the city’s fault for making a bumpy road.. grow up, I know it sucks that someone got burned really bad, but accidents happen.

Do you think if I took that coffee and threw it in someone’s face and it killed them they would let me off the hook because it’s not supposed to be so hot? Common, take some responsibility people. It’s not going to make any difference whether the label says “hot” or not, it’s hot. Be careful and if you spill it on yourself, it’s going to burn you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

Do you think if I took that coffee and threw it in someone’s face and it killed them they would let me off the hook because it’s not supposed to be so hot?

Define “off the hook.” You probably wouldn’t be charged with first degree murder if you could prove that it wasn’t your intention to kill your target. Courts take into account mitigating circumstances, for sure.

I have to ask, if this coffee that you can’t live without has to be so hot that it burns skin to the degree that skin grafts are necessary, then how do you actually drink it? It’s going to do even more damage to the soft tissue in your mouth, esophagus, etc…

Common, take some responsibility people

Why don’t you take some responsibility and actually research the case that you are so smug about. You seem completely uninformed here, having taken the tort-refomers characterization of the case at face value. Here’s just one quick run down of the facts.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

Of course I can live without all sorts of freedoms including the freedom for restaurants to server hot coffee, it’s just stupid that we all have to. Not sure if you drink coffee.. but basically, the way it works is that you don’t guzzle it when you buy it, you put it in your cup holder and drink it slowly over the course of your 2 hour drive, 40 minute meal, whatever. You get it extra hot at the beggining so that it’s still somewhat hot by the time you actually finish it…
When you first get it (I’m talking back when you could get hot coffee) you would have to sip it carefully because.. well.. it’s hot lol

Off the hook means means off the hook. Not responsible for killing, blinding, whatever, the person (cuz, you know, it’s the coffee’s fault for being too hot). Of course it’s not first degree murder unless you plan it in advance, thats not relevant. If you stab someone, and they die you don’t get off because the knife shouldn’t have been so sharp.

I have “researched” this case in the past. But really, what is there to know besides “the coffee was hot (super duper hot, like almost as hot as tea still is everywhere)” and “she spilled it all by herself”, no one did it for her.

There is really no other information than that.. and yes, I checked your fact sheet. I don’t see anything else relevent.. Some expert said he doesn’t think it’s neccessary to have coffee that hot, so what?, mcdonalds admits that people don’t know how bad you can get burned if you are wearing sweats and spill spill scalding hot coffee on yourself.. The didn’t like mcdonalds attitude.. They didn’t have warning labels.. Seriously.. they are supposed to be a restaurant not a babysitter.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

  1. crade, you’re a fucking douche…
  2. tea is NOT -generally- supposed to be made with boiling water, sub-boiling water, and -generally- steeped for 3-4 minutes…
  3. you seem so very fucking glib about it being super hot, like that is how it is supposed to be (it isn’t, but you’re a douche); yet you WILL NOT define WHERE there would be a bright line of it being TOO UNEXPECTEDLY DOG DAMN HOT…

    i don’t even drink the mud water, love the smell of coffee beans being ground, but hate the bitter brew…

    did i mention you are one gigantic douche ? ? ?

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

Well the line for me is simple.. it’s too hot when the customers don’t like it and stop buying it, at which point mcd’s adjusts it accordingly.

I’m being glib because to me it’s a completely ridiculous lawsuit and it annoys me to no end that people keep justifying it because of how hot the coffee was when it makes absolutely no difference. Yes, tea is supposed to be served boiling hot.. but basically so was coffee until this lawsuit happened. Coffee and Tea are both hot and should be considered dangerous, always.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

“At 150 maybe 160 degrees, it takes less than one second to have a second or third degree burn”, and even after this lawsuit, coffee is still served at least that hot.. It’s fricken dangerous, don’t spill it on yourself.. Consider it a permanant warning label on every single hot liquid that you have not yet tested it’s temperature. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news / a “douche” but it’s true, mcdonalds, or any other coffee will burn you bad if you spill it on yourself.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

Having worked in the Hospitality industry for several decades, and having researched proper coffee brewing methods for personal use and pleasure, I can report the following as facts:

1. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Proper brewing temperature for coffee is 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Standard holding temperature for coffee is 185 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 45 minutes (then the flavor starts to degrade and acidic flavors become more pronounced).
4. In the organizations that I worked for, or was familiar with (until this case) I have never heard of a complaint for coffee being too hot, but I have had complaints about coffee being too cold.
5. These numbers will change if done at elevation, ie. Denver vs New York for instance.
6. Yes, 185 degree liquid can produce severe burns.
7. The serving temperature of the coffee was not out of line with industry standards.

S says:

Re: McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

The negative number came from converting degrees Kelvin to Celcius/Fahrenheit scales. You can’t just divide 180/4 because you’re assuming that 0F is the coldest temperature, which it is not. The Farenheit scale drops below 0 to -458F, so that’s where the negative number came from.

JMT says:

Re: McDonalds coffee... division by four... and stupid deputies

“Secondly for the person who came up with -170 degrees after dividing by four, time to go back to the 4th grade. That IS where you didn’t learn division, right? No positive number divided by four gives you any negative number. Since using the little calculator icon seems difficult this morning for you allow me to help out. 180F/4=45F.”

Pro tip: If you’re going to call someone out on what you think is a mistake, and be a bit of a dick about it, it pays to make sure you’re actually correct. Coz if you turn out to be completely wrong (and you are), you look spectacularly stoopid.

ken says:

Yea ok, soooo,lets all sue each other

OK, any “D I N K” here that thinks any of these lawsuits, like the old lady that spilled coffee on her self is justified, is just a sad, out of work loser thats lookin for a cash cow!

There are no innocent victims when people go on a law suit bender. Stop the madness, get a god damn career, a job, and stop doing dumbshit to get hurt so you can sue others!, the legal system is not your freakin lottery!!!

I knew a guy the purposely fell in a store so he could get money for a new car he wanted, sad, really freakin sad.

You freakin cheap bastards!

And this cop is a freakin pussy, and other cops should laugh at him and call him a pussy!!! and he should be fired!!!!!!!!!!

And he said, make it a safe environment before he gets there?

Thats why they called him (the cop) in the first place.

Read your god damn job description dumbass, you are a freakin COP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And any Judge that sides with this poor excuse for a law enforcement officer, is just as big a pussy as this guy!!!!!

So in closing…..,

Get A JOB you Freakin, Facebook Hangin, Twitter Posting, Chat Room stalkin, Forum Trolling losers and stop relying on others for financial gain!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

where does the queue start for applying for a job here? be careful you’re not killed in the rush, though!! you might be sued for being a danger to others by not warning anyone you were going to keel over!!

the guy is definitely in the wrong job! courts being what they are today and ruling in the most ridiculous ways, it wouldn’t surprise me if the case was upheld. however, the judge needs to think about what he would do in the event of reporting a burglary at his home. he would need to ensure his property insurance was up to date

Anonymous Coward says:

Here's an interesting quote from the article

Pullen and another deputy initially tried to subdue Yazar with Tasers but ultimately had to use their firearms.

There is so much fail in this it’s hard to know where to begin.

First, why couldn’t they subdue the guy with their bare hands? Weaklings? Cowards? Too fat? There is absolutely no reason why two allegedly-trained, allegedly-fit-for-duty deputies — assisted by everyone else on scene — should not be able to subdue an unarmed man.

Second, they couldn’t subdue him with their torture devices? Really? REALLY? How does that work, exactly?

Third, they “had to” shoot him? Oh? Why was that, exactly? Was it because he was actually a violent threat to someone’s safety, or was it because these two decided that just killing a man in cold blood would make their evening go a little smoother?

Fourth, the investigation has been going on for eight months? Why is that, exactly? Surely taking all the statements and reviewing all the evidence would take…about a day. So is the department just sitting on this, biding its time until the population forgets about it (OOHH MILEY CYRUS IN HER UNDIES! SQUIRREL!!) so that they can release a pre-written report exonerating their staff and blaming everything on a dead guy?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Here's an interesting quote from the article

He was using bath salts! They are the PCP of the new century and give you superhuman strength along with laser eyes. Remember that guy who ate the homeless guy’s face? He was using bath salts! Well okay he wasn’t but they initially thought he was because bath salts turn you into a cannibal! Would you prefer these cops wait until two or three of them had been eaten before they pull out their guns?

Bath salts!

aldestrawk says:

Re: Re: Here's an interesting quote from the article

Every single time that law enforcement and politicians here about a new, potential drug of abuse, they try to vilify it as much as possible. Remember that “Reefer Madness” was not made as a satire, it was supposed to be educational. It is hard to characterize “bath salts” because it refers to a group of chemicals and you never know precisely what you are buying. It is a family of drugs containing synthetic cathinones, most commonly including mephedrone. If one looks at the research literature about the effects of this family of drugs, you do not come across anything that resembles enabling superhuman strength and crazed violence. The reputation of bath salts is simply propaganda that the media has swallowed without a critical burp. Bath Salts are now the go-to explanation for insane, naked person behavior. The naked guy in Florida who ate the homeless man’s face turned out to ONLY have marijuana in his system. The reference in the law suit is to “bath salts” or some other mind altering substance. They would have done better to blame PCP instead.

I am wondering if an autopsy was done in this case and any drugs in this guys system were identified.

Anonymous Coward says:

The part I can’t believe is that he got a lawyer to take the case. It’s almost certainly a loser, and the payout isn’t going to be millions if they somehow won. AND it would set a horrible precedent to make people liable when they call 911. What kind of lawyer takes a bad case that would make the world a worse place if he won?

The officer WAS warned by the EMT’s that there was an “aggressive or non compliant person”. What more can be expected in that situation? Was the homeowner supposed to know that he would specifically attack that officer?

ahow628 (profile) says:

To serve and protect...

I’ve read a number of old, retired police officers comment on the state of law enforcement as it currently stand. One of them felt as though the concept of “serving and protecting” has be almost completely lost. He also stated that when he went out on patrol, he basically assumed he would have to give his life to protect a citizen and just wondered if today was that day.

Now, I constantly hear about “getting cops home safe.” If cops feel the need to get home safe, maybe they need a new job. Especially if part of getting home safe involves dealing out justice off-the-cuff by shooting people willy-nilly.

A prime example in Indianapolis recently was a comment by a commander with regard to police shooting a young man. He said, “The kid made a mistake and paid with his life.” That doesn’t sound like serving and protecting; it sounds like threatening. Not to mention they were pretty sure the guy was the one who tried to carjack a lady, but what if he wasn’t?

GMacGuffin (profile) says:

Assumption of the Risk ...

I don’t know from Texas, but there are doctrines related to assumption of the risk often at play in these situations. Like, you can’t sue for getting hit by a foul ball at the ballgame. Vets generally assume the risk of being bitten by a dog they are treating … You know, sensible doctrines.

I would submit that a cop assumes the risk of being injured in responding to a 911 call re an “aggressive” drugged-up fellow.

beech says:

I recall reading that McCorporate knew that they served their coffee dangerously burningly hot, so they did a cost/benefit analysis and realized that it would cost a lot of money to have all their restaurants lower the coffee temperatures to something less dangerous. So they left it.

That’s why the lady won, willful negligence. She showed corporate memos saying ‘gee, our coffee is dangerous, but whatever.’

I think I also read that she received 3rd degree burns to the point of having her thighs fused together (or somesuch)

Beech says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

well, basically that it was way hotter than it should have been. If i hand you a hammer and you drop it on your foot and get a boo boo, that shit’s hilarous. If I hand you a hammer made out of Uranium and you drop it on your foot and sheer it clean off because the hammer is hundreds of times heavier than it had any reason to be, and then you get cancer…maybe I should have cautioned you that this wasn’t your every day kind of hammer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Retired LEO here

As a retired LEO from the 70’s & 80’s, I can’t begin to tell you how troubling this lawsuit seems.

For one thing, the officer filing the complaint should be so ashamed of himself that he resigns. His fellow officers, if they are supporting him in his endeavor should also resign in shame.

As many here have already pointed out, the job of a LEO is understood to come with the possibility of being hurt or killed on any call. It is part of the job and taught to you from day one. Even the clueless cannot be uninformed about this.

Domestic type disturbances are well known for being extremely hazardous to everyone at the scene, and this includes the LEOs… especially the LEOs.

I can only conclude that the LEO filing this lawsuit is an incredible coward and looking for an easy payday so he can get out of his dangerous line of work.

Hopefully there is a remedy via a counter suit available to the original 911 caller.

out_of_the_blue says:

Near half the thread, 19 posts, on McDonald's coffee!

Sheesh. And the longest thread began from one who complains about the prior distraction! So typical of Techdirt: like ankle-biters, fanboys seize the first bit they see at their low level and start yapping their heads off!

So, pointing that out is all for me this post.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Near half the thread, 19 posts, on McDonald's coffee!

The cognitive dissidence you display when posting is epic. You claim that everyone who posts here is just blindly drinking the kool-aid and would believe anything. Then when there’s a legitimate problem, you attack the people who point out the mistake.

What the hell is wrong with you? That’s not an insult, I legitimately want to know what the hell is wrong with you.

Beech says:

Re: Re: Near half the thread, 19 posts, on McDonald's coffee!

Dude, be careful what you wish for. The demons festering in that boy’s brain are so epic in scale I don’t think any mortal is equipped to comprehend their scope. His brain is like a Pandora’s Box full of Medusas who have been dropped on their heads as larval Medusas, thus making them totally apeshit crazy.

Daemon_ZOGG (profile) says:


Deputy Pullen should be suing the other on-scene deputies for not allowing Yazar to finish the job of thinning the human gene pool. The deputy’s very existence is an insult to both Citizens and law enforcement, everywhere. As far as “making the premises safe”.. thugs, intruders, etc, deadly force applies. The only reason I would need law enforcement is to fill out the paperwork and collect the offending trash on the floor. 😉

DB (profile) says:

“you are completely wrong. 99.999999% of the population”

Apparently we have a really weird sample of world population. Because most people here think *you* are wrong.

The only sensible way to calculate “1/4 the temperature” is converting to a zero-based scale, and then converting back. You don’t need to use Kelvin, but pretty much everyone with a science education would use it.

Jim says:

How do the untrained evaluate the danger?

If I am required to evaluate the danger and I evaluate that it is far more dire than it is, and the police kill someone, then I become liable for that person’s death. If I under evaluate the situation, and a police officer becomes injured or killed, do I become responsible for that? What is an acceptable level of evaluation of the danger? In other words, how precise do I have to be to stay off the legal radar?

How about someone that abuses it to get their spouse or enemy killed by cop? Couldn’t this evaluation mechanism be used to kill someone you don’t like by cop while providing you with a way to get off scott-free?

What if I’m traumatized and can’t adequately state what the situation entails? What if I’m a woman that has suffered long term physical and mental abuse and I feel that this is the only way that I can be free of future threat, so I intentionally tell them the situation is more dire than it was and the police come in shooting (so to speak)? Will I still have to go through a lawsuit just to prove that I was traumatized?

A police officer is supposedly trained to assess a situation fast. He accepts that duty to protect and serve. The police want the public to protect and serve them?

How much of his own liability is involved here as the deputy? Does he not have the responsibility to call for back up before he engages? Is he not required to look at the situation before he engages? Are police departments (sheriffs included) not required to train him? Do they not pay for his medical and other bills when injured? Does he not get compensated for his damaged gear? And if he violates these tenants of training and public trust should he remain a police officer after the incident?

aldestrawk says:

The following comment is from a law enforcement forum. This particular comment is by no means representative of the general tilt of opinion in this forum. It is outrageous enough in attitude that I am wondering if it is a parody.

“Absolutely, 100 on the side of this deputy! This needs to start happening more and these people filing bull s**t complaints need to start seeing the inside of the same type of courtroom also. In this case, people need to start realizing that there are consequences for their actions. They wanna let a family member get so drugged out they can’t handle him anymore? Fine, but they also shouldn’t expect us to come clean up the mess that got completely out of hand because of their own inaction without understanding that they may have to pay the price if someone gets hurt.”

John85851 (profile) says:

What kind of lawyer takes a case like this?

Is it safe to assume the deputy isn’t going to represent himself? Then who’s the lawyer who is going to take a case like this and why does he think he even has a case?

First, even filing the lawsuit has made the deputy a laughingstock. Next, suppose he wins the case. Does he really expect the victim to pay him $200,000, which they probably don’t even have? And will the judge (or defense attorney) realize how this case will affect people who call 911?

Anonymous Coward says:

Censorship my MODERATION

You just cant help yourself Masnick, all that power to censor in your hands, it’s gone to your head.

Even you the great freedom fighter has to resort to cheap censoring to stifle speech.

Does that embarrass you Masnick ?? Or do you do it as a defence instead of actually allowing openness or free and open debate ?

You using censorship, abusing power, what else do you do that you rile against ??

So are you lying when you say you don’t agree with censorship abuse, or are you just stupid, or scared ? or all of the above ?

Oh that’s right it’s all about connecting with fans, all 3 of them.

Or are you simply just scared about being engaged in a debate where you will actually have to justify your words and actions..

Not just pay lip service to them.

You’re cause cannot be that great if you are only willing to pay lip service to them, and abuse them just like everyone else does.

Censor mike, are you children proud ?? or don’t you tell them about the bad stuff ?

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