“Woman Files $10M Suit Vs. Starbucks”

by Ted Frank on January 2, 2004

Janine Arslanian alleges “extensive and gross second and third degree burns to her right hand and arm” from a spill of Starbuck’s coffee. Gee, it couldn’t possibly be the case that the plaintiffs’ bar misled us when they said the Stella Liebeck v. McDonald’s coffee case (which we discussed Dec. 10) was unique because it was only McDonald’s coffee that was hot enough to cause serious burns, could it? (Jamie Herzlich, Newsday, Dec. 30).


N.B. I’m not claiming that Arslanian’s case is frivolous; that’s not clear from the press coverage. If her allegation is that the cup is defective, rather than the coffee, it’s a different case than the Liebeck case (though it’s difficult to imagine scenarios where $10M would be appropriate compensation). But it does go to show that the claims that coffee doesn’t burn people unless it’s brewed defectively by McDonald’s, and thus McDonald’s coffee was “unreasonably dangerous”, thus entitling a plaintiff who spills coffee on herself to recover from the vendor, were somewhat, well, false.