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Tim Hortons customer demands regulations after being burned by hot tea

Tim Hortons cups

RICHARD PLUME/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Dare we say it? Tim Hortons is in hot water again for scalding a patron and this time the customer is demanding the restaurant change its ways.

According to CBC News, a Winnipeg woman who was severely scalded by a cup of Tim Hortons tea has gone public with her campaign demanding that Tim Hortons change its current method of serving hot beverages to the public.

Last February, Lisa Marchant sustained second– and third-degree burns on her left side after an extra-large cup of Tim Hortons green tea spilled on her lap following a minor car accident.

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In an interview with CBC News, Marchant claimed she hasn't been the same since suffering the burns last winter. "It just stops your life. I'm still not back," she told a CBC reporter.

To drive home her point about the seriousness of the burns, Marchant brought along her mother to the interview. "Her skin came off just like a piece of loose leaf and it was quite horrendous," said Pearl Marchant. "I had never seen anything like that before."

Although Lisa Marchant has not filed a lawsuit against Tim Hortons, she still wants to see the Canadian government develop safe beverage temperature rules.

"We all have to be careful; that's common sense," she said. "But I think … it is too hot. It should be lowered. I couldn't imagine my burn on a baby's face."

Marchant said she ordered the green tea from a Tims location in Winnipeg last Feb. 24. She placed the tea in cup holder of the car driven by her former husband while they were en route to pick up their daughter.

Moments after pulling away from the drive-through window, the vehicle Marchant was riding in collided with another car at an intersection.

"When that happened, the lid fell off the tea and fell on Lisa's left lap," said her ex, Scott Kilborn, who was also interviewed by CBC. "It just kind of poured out."

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Marchant has cerebral palsy, so she didn't feel the hot liquid at first.

"Lisa doesn't feel on the left side very well because of her disability," Kilborn said. "So for her to scream, it has to be intense."

Marchant suffered burns to her left hip, left buttock and upper leg. She says that medical experts told her that the tea must have been at least 88 C (190 F) in order to cause the burns she sustained.

Which is why, presumably, Marchant is suggesting the food chain change its beverage-serving ways. When asked what she thinks Tim Hortons should do, she replied: "Come up to the plate and say, 'Our water is too hot and we need to look at this in a safety aspect.'"

With all due respect and sympathy to Marchant's injuries, is it really incumbent upon Tim Hortons to change the way it does business because of one customer's unfortunate accident?

Similar hot-beverage burn claims and lawsuits have been levied against Starbucks, McDonalds, Dunkin' Donuts and other chains in recent years and in each instance the claims have been dismissed.

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So far, Tim Hortons hasn't issued any response to Marchant's demands and she probably shouldn't hold her breath waiting for it.

It's highly unlikely she'll receive any satisfaction from Canada's most popular food chain because purchasing a hot beverage comes with an unspoken responsibility of caution. It's the reason why hot-beverage cups and lids usually include the warning: "Be careful! It's hot!"

If anything, Marchant should look to Seinfeld's Kramer, who was burnt by a scalding coffee and looked to cash in by suing the fictional coffee chain Java World. What did he get? A lifetime supply of lattes, which had him jabbering like a monkey and making even less sense than usual.

Lesson learned.

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