A.P. Statistics Assignment
What you are about to read is based on a true legal case.
Facts of the Case: A man we will call Mr. Smith who weighs 420 pounds walks into a Boston
area McDonalds and orders a Happy Meal. He takes it to a table and sits down on one of the
plastic-molded seats. It cannot hold his weight and collapses. Mr. Smith is only injured slightly
as his hand hit the table while he was going down and it was bruised. He claims that the
experience was quite painful and embarrassing and is now scared to sit on seats.
Mr. Smith sues McDonald’s Corporation for $1 million for pain and suffering. He claims that
McDonalds is to blame for having the faulty seat in its restaurant.
Basic Statistics of the Case: The average adult male in the United States weighs 185 pounds
and the standard deviation is 31 pounds. As in most measurements of this kind, you can assume
that male weight is distributed normally. Although Mr. Smith has a medical problem that makes
him weigh as much as he does, the judge in the case has ruled that the reason for Mr. Smith’s
girth has no bearing on the case. The company that manufactures the seat says that the average
load that its seats can handle before collapse is 450 pounds with a standard deviation of 8
pounds. Again, it makes sense to assume normal distribution.
Who is to blame here, if anyone?
Assignment: You are to become either the prosecuting attorney for Mr. Smith or the defense
attorney for McDonalds. You are to write a 1 page maximum closing argument to the jury in
• If you are the prosecuting attorney, your claim is that McDonald’s is liable for Mr. Smith’s
pain and suffering and that they should pay Mr. Smith (do not argue about whether the sum
of $1 million is appropriate).
• If you are the defense attorney, your claim is that McDonald’s has no liability in this matter
and the case should be dismissed.
You can take either side (at the top of the page, state: prosecution or defense) of the argument.
However, in your argument, some mention of statistics must be present. A graph or chart may
be included if you wish (in addition to the one written page). When talking to a jury, do not
assume that they have much technical knowledge of statistics.
There is no one “right” answer. You will be graded on the arguments you use and how clear
your arguments are.