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Moscow court throws out consumer group claim against McDonald's

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MOSCOW, April 20 (RIA Novosti) - A Moscow court ruled Friday not to close McDonald's outside dining areas over consumer safety concerns.

In doing so, the Tverskoi Borough Court rejected a claim filed by a consumer rights protection group, Public Oversight.

The claimants had asserted that "the swinging doors installed at each McDonald's restaurant do not ensure consumer safety" and should be replaced with automatic doors. Pending that, the use of terraces and patios should be suspended.

The plaintiffs said they disagreed with the court ruling and will appeal on technical grounds.

They said the judge had refused to order an expert appraisal of the door system.

"This is a violation of due process," said Pyotr Dombrovitsky, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

This is not the first claim against McDonald's in Moscow.

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 claimed a swinging door hit her while she was walking out onto the restaurant's terrace with a full tray, and demanded 900,000 rubles (about $34,000) in damages.

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.

She later withdrew her lawsuit.

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

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