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Moscow expert says McDonald's swinging doors unsafe

MOSCOW, September 13 (RIA Novosti) - In a long-running lawsuit against U.S. fast food giant McDonald's over a spilled cup of coffee, a Moscow expert said Wednesday that swinging doors at McDonald's restaurants are not safe.

Olga Kuznetsova, from the Moscow suburb of Khimki, started legal proceedings against the company after hot coffee was spilled on her at her local McDonald's May 5, 2004.

She claims a swinging door hit her while she was walking out onto the restaurant's terrace with a full tray, and demands 900,000 rubles ($33,300) in damages.

Irina Mulyak, an expert from the Moscow Expertise department, who conducted an investigation into the case at McDonald's request, said at a hearing in the Butyrsky Court in Moscow that the swinging doors are unsafe for customers carrying trays with hot food outside.

She added that McDonald's design estimates do not provide for take-out.

"Swinging doors do not provide for the security of customers who go outside with trays and hot food," Mulyak said. "There must either be sliding doors or service windows for take-out."

The expert confirmed the results of the previous expertise, made at the request of the claimants.

Originally, Kuznetsova only asked for 60,000 rubles in damages, but McDonald's lawyers said she had nobody to blame but herself because the paper cup carried a warning that the coffee was hot, which prompted her to go to court.

This is a rare case involving a fast food chain in Russia, though America has considerable experience of litigation against restaurants.

Stella Libeck, 79, from New Mexico won $125,000 in damages after burning herself by spilling hot coffee from McDonald's in February 1994 while she was in her car.

The next court hearing is scheduled for October 4.

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