Yet another McDonald’s coffee style lawsuit

by Ted Frank on July 27, 2007

You will recall that defenders of the absurd McDonald’s coffee lawsuit insist that the suit was justified because only McDonald’s sold beverages capable of third-degree burns. We’ve repeatedly shown that that claim is fictional, but add one more example: a New Jersey man is suing Starbucks for selling “unsafe” hot tea that caused third degree burns on his hand when he spilled it on himself (though at least, unlike Stella Liebeck, he is claiming that the spill is the store’s fault for failing to attach the lid properly). Because Starbucks does not comment on litigation, they surrender the entire article to the plaintiffs’ attorney for Antonio Couso to use as a platform when the reporter does not bother double-checking any of the lawyer’s claims. (John Petrick, “Starbucks sued over spilled tea”, The Record, Jul. 27).

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Hot tea lawsuit has interesting procedural quirk
11.25.08 at 11:25 am

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1 Todd Rogers 07.27.07 at 11:43 am

This is right out of Seinfeld…they should try and settle for a life’s supply of tea….Mr. Kramer.

2 Velkrin 07.28.07 at 12:13 am

“If the tea spills out and burns you, it’s for two reasons: the lid isn’t on properly, or the tea is too hot.” (emphasis mine)

So if I’m reading that right, tea can burn me even if it isn’t too hot, so long as the lid isn’t on properly.

That’s some mighty strong tea right there.

3 Ben Palmer 07.28.07 at 8:34 pm

Can I sue Starbucks if they sell me hot tea which is … not hot? After all, they would make false claims.

I doubt that with the quantity of tea at (in the) hand, you can suffer third-degree burns. The natural reaction would be to shake the hot water off. Physics teaches us that the heat energy is measured by (excess) temperature times volume. A few droplets can never cause any damage to our skin, unless the water is close to boiling.

4 Lauren 07.29.07 at 12:03 pm

Unless done with intent to harm, an unsecured lid is not negligence, but human error, which is unavoidable every now and then. Hot things are supposed to be hot and while I am sorry that this man suffered burns, it is clear that he and his wife are out to get as much as they can, from a very successful company. To seek reimbursement for medical expenses and even loss of salary due to unforeseen time off (within reason) seems reasonable – but when you read all of the other things this man seeks damages for, it makes my blood BOIL (no pun intended). In addition, his wife is getting in on the action, and it sounds very much like she is claiming she is entitled to compensation because her husband could not perform certain husbandly duties due to the burns…..COME ON! I am sorry for any pain and suffering caused to any person by human error, and believe that people should be compensated when the situation warrants. But – as I already stated – when you see the list of grievances these people expect to be compensated for, the transparency of their greed is only too evident. And they should be rewarded for that by receiving nothing at all.

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