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Miller v. McDonald’s Corp.

Court of Appeals of Oregon
945 P.2d 1107 (1997)


Facts

Miller (plaintiff) sued McDonald’s Corporation (McDonald’s) (defendant) for injuries sustained when she bit into a sapphire stone in a Big Mac hamburger she bought at a McDonald’s restaurant. McDonald’s had a franchise agreement (Agreement) with 3K Restaurants (3K) that conducted the business of the restaurant where the incident occurred. The Agreement had very strict and extensive requirements concerning how 3K was to operate the restaurant in conformity with McDonald’s standards and practices. In essence, the Agreement required 3K to ensure that the restaurant appeared virtually identical to other McDonald’s restaurants and provided the same type of food and standard of service. In spite of the rigid requirements, the Agreement stated that 3K was an independent contractor, solely responsible for injuries occurring at the restaurant. At the time of the incident, the general appearance of the restaurant and the food it served were indistinguishable from any other McDonald’s restaurant. The restaurant, which was shaped like a common McDonald’s restaurant, displayed McDonald’s signs and served McDonald’s food, including Big Macs. The restaurant’s employees wore McDonald’s uniforms. Outside of a sign near the front counter listing 3K as the owner of the restaurant, there was no indication that any entity other than McDonald’s was involved in running it. At trial, Miller testified that she visited the restaurant because it looked just like any other McDonald’s restaurant and she wanted the same type of food and service she had received in other McDonald’s establishments. The trial court nonetheless granted McDonald’s motion for summary judgment, holding that McDonald’s was not liable for Miller’s injuries because it did not own or operate the restaurant.

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Holding and Reasoning (Warren, P.J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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