The family of young girl who was severely scalded at a Wawa by a cup of hot water will receive a $3 million settlement from the convenience store chain.
The girl was 3 years old when her family, which had been traveling in April 2018 from Virginia through Monmouth County, stopped at a Wawa store in Neptune.
Her mother, Roya Konzman, had placed a number of food items on the counter along with two cups of hot water for tea. The little girl - identified only as N.K. - came close to watch the cashier ring up the purchases.
As the cashier bagged the first of the items, he knocked over a water bottle, which in turn toppled one of the cups of 180-degree tea water, according to court papers. The near-boiling liquid splashed over the child, burning her arms, upper body and torso. The entire incident was captured by a surveillance camera.
The girl was treated for second- and third-degree burns over 15% of her body at Saint Barnabas Medical Center.
In the lawsuit filed in federal court, the Konzman family claimed the cashier was negligent in knocking over the hot water, and Wawa was liable for the negligence of its cashier. The suit also claimed that Wawa knew the water, produced by a Cecilware dispensing machine, was a hazard.
On March 30, Wawa agreed to settle the case for $3 million without an admission of wrong-doing. The settlement was first reported Monday in the New Jersey Law Journal.
A spokesperson for Wawa did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
The child was awarded $2.55 million, of which she will keep $1.9 million to be held in a trust and an annuity. The remainder will go to pay her lawyers (about $600,000), her insurance company (about $36,000), and to cover additional expenses (roughly $15,000).
The mother, Roya Konzman, was awarded $450,000 for emotional distress brought on by the accident. About $150,000 of that will go to pay her lawyers, Mazie Slater Katz and Freeman.
The case is reminiscent of a 1994 product liability suit that became known as the McDonald's coffee case and is often derided as an extreme case of frivolous litigation.
The victim in that case, a 79-year-old woman, was initially awarded $2.86 million after she suffered third degree burns from coffee spilled on her groin. The woman, Stella Liebeck, spent eight days in an Albequerque hospital and received skin grafts to repair the damage. The award was eventually reduced to $640,000.