Woman Burned In Starbucks Drive Through Files Lawsuit
A Texas woman claimed she was injured in a Starbucks drive-through after a hot coffee (that she didn’t even order) spilled in her lap. According to the plaintiff, the employee recognized that they had given the order to the wrong customer and asked them to hand the coffee back. The woman did as asked, but in the attempt, the lip popped off and the coffee spilled into her lap causing scalding injuries. The plaintiff says she got first- and second-degree burns from the incident. She is suing for up to $75,000.
Starbucks was asked for a response and said that they were unaware that a lawsuit had been filed and are currently investigating the situation.
Analyzing coffee spill lawsuits
No lawsuit is more notorious than the $100 million verdict against Mcdonald’s filed on behalf of an elderly woman who suffered severe burns after her coffee spilled. While the verdict and case became the foundation for “tort reform” in several states, the facts of the case show why the jury sided with the woman instead of Mcdonald’s.
In that case, the woman suffered third-degree burns (worse than first- and second-degree burns) and required skin grafts as a result of the damage done by the piping-hot McDonald’s coffee. At the time, McDonald’s served their coffee at 180 degrees. After the lawsuit, they reduced the heat of their coffee meaning that subsequent customers would not be injured as severely during a spill. In that case, the woman won her lawsuit, but her jury award was reduced by the judge.
Are coffee spill lawsuits easy to win?
It depends. In each case mentioned above, there is some element of negligence present. In McDonald’s case, the company served their coffee so hot that it resulted in third-degree burns in which the plaintiff damaged muscle and required skin grafts. In the other two cases, the lids were not fastened well enough and popped off. In each case, we can clearly see why the defendant was held responsible for the injury.
However, everyone knows that coffee is hot. So an average person would have a reasonable expectation that if they spilled the coffee on themselves, they would get burned. In most cases, someone reaches out for the cup and knocks it over. In that case, since the company or its employees contributed no negligence, the victim would likely not be able to file a successful lawsuit unless the coffee was so hot it burned through the skin and directly into the muscle. Because the temperature is within the power of the company to control, their negligence led to the injury.
Talk to a Houston Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another party, the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers can file a lawsuit on your behalf and recover damages related to your injuries. Call today to learn more!