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October 16, 2006


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Can we just say stupid lawsuit? I always check my lid before I accept my drink. This lawsuit sounds like something that should havbe been thrown out of court. It will be interesting to see the final outcome.


if she added milk to it: i'd say it was ll her fault. if she didn't then it still could be her fault starbucks is not responcible for you damageing yourself on something that you baught. i find it silly


I've had a cup completely collapse after purchasing coffee. On inspection inside the cup itself, it was clear it was an issue with the glue as the coffee had infiltrated the side seal and made the cup unstable. I called and returned to the store after coaching my kids and the manager gave me a new cup of coffee (that's all I wanted). Apparently, a couple of other cups had the same issue during the week, and she was phoning her distributor to get it handled.

I would never think to sue, but any excuse to get out of an entire semester of school sounds good to some people.


It's really hard to pass legal judgement on this one because we can't really tell if this is a licensed store, or what the contract between the University and Starbucks states.


This sounds familiar. McDonald's Coffee Lawsuit of 1994 anyone?


sounds more like a cup company issue to me. If it is a cup problem and there is no way to identify an issue with a cup until something happens like this, then isn't it just an accident? and how do you miss a semester of classes for something like that? I get burned all day


You know. It still amazes me to see how stupid our soceity is gettin. Next youl tell me tat the moon isn't made of cheese. Seriously though, unless this was complete neglegence on behalf of that store, it really should not proceed . I bet she was on a cell phone. I will take bets on that. Kel


Whel I should sue over all of the times My Venti drink was filled to the top and when the lid was put on. The coffee collects on the underside of the lid and spills on my nice shirt. BOOOOOhooo.lol

I don't get these terrible burn stories from coffee. I've had coffee direct from the urn pour on my hand and my arm without it being more than a red spot that stung a bit. Heck, I turned from the urn once with an entire venti of drip only to have someone back into me dumping the cup all over my stomach and crotch (no apron either, had just taken it off due to a white mocha incident), somehow I managed to not get seriously burned then either.

Chi-towns best/angriest barista

i should count the number of times i've spilled cups of hot coffee or other hot drinks on myself because of someone else's carelessness (customer/partner/whatever) add that to the number of faulty lids/cups i've encountered (did anyone else have the problem with leaking iced venti cups this summer?) and i could sue for enough money to never have to go to school again. but to miss an entire semester over one spill? can anyone say weak?
anyway, i'm pretty sure the cups and sleeves warn you that the "hot" beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely "hot."


oy vey! those iced venti cups were awful. customers were definetely not happy with that.


"white mocha incident?" That sounds rather interesting. Lauren is correct that it is difficult to make a strong opinion on this one without more information, but assuming that it is a licensed concept store... My question is: if this lawsuit were to find Starbucks at fault, then would I be able to sue Coca-Cola if someone beat me up with a Coke bottle?

Also, regardless to licensing and ownership, how can 2 or 3 seconds of 180 degree heat on your hands make you miss an entire semester of school? And if her hands were TRULY incapacitated by this coffee mishap, has this student never heard of Disability Support Services? This case sounds pretty ridiculous.


we're having issues with our cups (glue, etc.) all the time, so much to the point that we'll double cup if we're not sure. and i always check to make sure the lid is on securely before handing off a drink - it's not like i enjoy being burned by the damned hot water faucet every time i make an americano.

oh those venti iced cups? don't even get me started...


I don't get these severe burn issues either. I dumped a 200 degree tea all over me the other day. My arms got a little red and stung but it certianly wasn't enough to disable me. Some people will just sue over anything.


There was a clog in the pump because someone was a useless barista and hadn't been cleaning it on close. After five or six unsuccessful pumps, a glob of nasty came out along with a fair amount of high velocity white mocha which richocheted and left me looking like...well it rhymes with sukkake. I had taken off my apron, cleaned off my face, came out from the back when someone asked me to grab them a venti drip and the rest you know.

Of course, THEN I had to use our burn cream which looks EXTREMELY..err..suspicious. Wow, an entire article could be written about our odd looking burn cream.


Deusx -- completely agree about the burn cream.. very strange. I've had a freshly made mocha batch spilled all over me, but again no real burn. Just a bit red. I am really trying to figure out how the hell she is going to win this case. If needed I will go to court and pour a fresh cup of coffee over my hand to show that it really isn't that bad.


wondered if she asked for it extra hot and it spilled on her during her midterm,

either way, souds verry sketchy.


How do you raise the temp on drip coffee on demand? If someone asked me for drip coffee "extra hot" I would probably be forced to give them the "idiot" look for a good three seconds.


I think starbucks should buy public liability insurance for their daily guest, if you want your customer pay for premium, please provide premium service, not only embarking on premium advetisement .......


I've been seeing the double cupping here as of late on all hot drinks, not just Starbucks but Mcy D's. I don't see how 180 degree coffee on your hands can cause your to miss entire semester, MAYBE missing a day of school is still over kill. I would have just went to class anyway. Her hands must be made of super thin rice paper for her to be hurt badly. It's amazing what people will sue over! I could understand suing if a barista went psycho and deliberately threw 200 degree coffee on her hands!!! Stupid people!


Courts really aren't allowed to just really pick a random decision that doesn't match written law -- that's where I find the interest in this. It was overturned, meaning some judge read the law as she had the right to sue -- so there are obviously facts we don't know here.

I will take a stand, though, and say that being forced to take an incomplete is a little ridiculous.


As some one who routinely orders their drink extra hot, I still say the blame is on Ms. Atler. I drink soy and that holds the heat longer.

And I don't believe the claim about missing a semester of classes. I had 1st and 2nd degree chemical burns on my fingers in college and only missed a few days of class. She justs sees a big paycheck.

Barista Boy

Wanna bet Daddy is a lawyer?; either that or she's trailer trash who's looking to for a payday. She can't go to school? What did she do, fall into the cup?

sometimes i think to myself, how amusing i find this website; my slight addiction has lead me to be the voice of knowledge amoung my peers at times, also to add to either the voice of reason or opposition, based on thoughts i've seen here...

but after actually reading the article, and then reading the posts here, i have to ask: are you all stoopid?

i mean, sure a burn doesn't hurt that much.. we're not talking about the injury suit itself.

this article surrounds starbucks' responsibilites to licenced concepts, and whether they can get out of that responsibility because they don't own the stores themselves; and about what responsibility you have lending your name to another, and how that relationship manifests..

this thread isn't about the case itself, but on the legal definition that starbucks' has with its stores and it's partnerships.

did anyone actually READ the article?



What about customers who use STRAWS for their hot and xtra hot beverages? Even though the wrapper says "not for use on hot drinks". Do I hear "BURNED MOUTH OR TONGUE LAWSUIT"?


What is also sad is it sounds like this is an Alliance starbuck's, not even an offically run/owned starbucks -- but one of those fake ones that have different standards, rules, etc etc.

it's a little scary that starbucks is now liable for damages incurred by a licensed concept. on the same train of thought as geoffro, do i get to sue coke if a coke slushie, purchased from a gas station, pops open, causing me frostbite and gangrene. a little absurd, but give me a break! just because you have the brand logo on the item in question does not mean it is the brand's direct fault. i would be interested to see where this leads...


This situation says more about our sue sue sue culture/personal responsability than it does about Starbucks.

I would think coffee splattered all over two hands could leave you a little tender for a day or two, but.. I actually do know about burned hands as I foolishly burned my hand with grease this spring. In my case one hand coated with grease which must have been in excess of several hundred degrees. Yet, still I managed to go on interviews and secure a new job four days later. A few pain pills from the doctor, some bandages and silver oxide burn cream did the trick. So, to spend an entire semester cause of a coffee burn.. I'm skeptical.


Followup (dislclaimer (grin)):

I'm not addressing the "rule of law" issues here, but instead indicating that we have a very litigation-happy society. There are obvious legal issues which I wasn't trying to comment on..

I just wanted to re-iterate the sentiment of an anonymous post above, the arguments discussed in the article concern whether injuries sustained by negligence at a Starbucks being operated on the grounds of a State University are the responsibility of the Starbucks corporation or the State University and therefore State Government.

On a separate note, if there were no injuries at all to this woman, don't you think that the Starbucks attorneys would have raised that argument as well? In addition, if the negligence of an employee of a company caused you serious injury, wouldn't you want to be compensated for that?

I understand that there are frivolous lawsuits out there, but the legal system does a pretty good job in the end of making sure that only meritorius claims are paid (ex.: the suit against McDonald's for obesity in children wasn't paid, but the papers didn't cover that as much as the initial filing). Just because you've never been severely burned by coffee doesn't mean it's impossible.


I think they should order starbucks to give her a new coffee for free and order her to pay the thousands of dollars in court costs. lol

Barista sUz

Uhh.. Maybe she has sensitive skin?
If you were burned that badly, don't you think you would've like.. Gone to the hospital. Get meds for it. Get a Dr's note and give it to your teachers to explain. I don't understand how one coffee spill would cause an entire semesters worth of healing. LAAAAAAAME.
But yeah, we've had a few customers come back to our store cos their lids were really loose and popping off. For a while we had issues with stupid cold flat/dome lids not fitting onto the iced cups. Which was really annoying cos there would be lines of drinks. But it takes 8 lids, between 2 baristas to get em on. I didn't hear anyway complaining "GEEEEZ! THIS IS SOOOO COLD. I think I got frost bite!"

I notice the girl was in a metal smith program. She was prolly using a torch and burned herself that way. And instead of looking like a dumbass, decided to blame Sbux. I was in a Jewelry course and happened to be soldering a ring. It wasn't soldering the way I wanted to and before thinking [about quenching it], I picked up the ring. It left burn marks on my fingers for weeks. I think there is still a little scarring.

How do you know that she didn't go to the hospital? You think that a plaintiff's lawyer would take on a case of someone that claims to have suffered burns so severe that she missed an entire semester of classes but didn't even bother to go to the hospital? Again, the article doesn't address the issue of the plaintiff's injuries at all, but that doesn't mean that they aren't there. If there were no injuries, a court would simply dismiss the claim on that basis and not even reach these other technical legal questions.

Additionally, with respect to the sensitive skin comment, there is a legal concept called the "eggshell skull plaintiff" which provides that you take your plaintiff as he comes. So, if you're working at Starbucks and the one person that you severely burn turns out to have sensitive skin, the law doesn't penalize that person for that, it's still your fault and you're still responsible for the pain and injury you caused.

I just feel that the actual point of the article is being lost on everyone that just feels like piling on a plaintiff that may have a legitimate injury. You don't know if she does or not because the article doesn't address it, since it would be off-topic.


Her claim should be against the state. No matter how she was injured the school should have people available to her to mitigate that (if you break your leg on campus you can get someone to carry your books.) I'm not saying she wasn't injured, it is just not clear that the injury is directly related to taking the incompletes.


Didn't this happen to Kramer in a "Seinfeld" episode? Just give the bitch free coffee for a year and be done with her.


Hey Richard, the next time your sister-in-law makes such a profund statment, slap her and scream, "No shit!?"


I'm suing SIUC because they didn't have a Starbucks on campus when I was attending.


If 8$$ supplied a defective cup, they should be a named defendant. 8$$ may have a contract with the State of Illinois, but she doesn;t. Whether they should ALSO be a defendant is a call her lawyer should make. Depending on the circumstances, an additional defendnat might be reasonable to add as well.

For example the cup manfacturer if the cup was defective, the lid naufacturer if the kid was defective; the coffee maker manufacturer if the tempatrue was too hot.

Also if she added mil or cream, that would LOWER the tempature somewhat, not raise it.

Keep in mind that a burn continues after the spill until the coffee can be removed or cools sufficiently. Just because one person only recieved a minor burn, doesn't mean the next one will. We all have difference tolerance levels for sunburn, why would you expect us all to have the same tolerance for a coffee burn?


LMAO...this is like the time some woman tried to sue pizza hut....b/c the pizza burned her mouth.......if things are going to be hot, obviously pay attention to what your doing


Well Dennis, we have different tolerances for sunburn based on how much Melanin ( a pigment) is in our skin. A sunburn is not a burn in the same way a burn from coffee (thermal)is a burn. Coffee burns because it instantly heats up an area till the point the cells cook and die. Sunburn is primarily damage from ultraviolet radiation killing your cells, not the temperature of the light. Admittendly, the end result damage is similiar, but from two very different delivery methods.

In summation, not a good analogy. It is possible for one person to be a little more tolerant of a burn than others, but not to the significant degree she claims. This woman claims that coffee splashed on her skin (btw, as coffee splashes it loses temperature super faster) and managed to cause so much damage she was unable to use her hand in a functional manner for 3 MONTHS. Even if she had a second degree burn (which would only be possible if she dumped her hand IN her cup and held it there) it would be fairly well healed within weeks.

I think we are stretching the benefit of the doubt for this woman terribly, terribly thin.


Does this mean I can sue the Sun if I get sunburned?

I still think that it's funny that you brainiacs that 100% missed the point of the article are so articulate on the issue of tort reform.

What's the matter with the iced venti cups?

Arthur H

see, this is why i hate stupid people. so many times ive spilled either coffee of that hot hot hot water out of the brewers. my first reaction is to get the freakin water off. people are stupid. maybe they should have their own little island or something. gaaaa!!!


I look at this situation, and I think to myself "What has this world come to!?" So what "IF" she actually did get a little burned, what.....was this like a "barista of death" that handed her the SCALDING hot coffee!? VERY, VERY UNLIKELY! Does this woman think all of it was intentional? What in the hell ever hapened to a good old fashioned "MISTAKE" Huh, where did those go? And a forgivable one at that? I feel that this woman has never once held a job in customer service, because she might be a little more tuned into what it's all about, and how MISHAPS ARE IN FACT MADE! So long as a human is doing them, they will occur, and reoccur, and reoccur. I mean, if that happened to me I would be a bit more forgiving with all of it. Maybe go back, and let them know about it, so it doesn't happen to someone else. But SUING them!? For what reason? Simply financial gain? I think so. I doubt all of her "winnings" after this lawsuit (IF she even wins) will go to a "Save the hands of America Foundation" to help other burnt hand victims, after their all too horrific experience with those scalding hot spills of coffee from Starbucks cups? OF CORSE NOT! It will all go right into her money grubbing hands! Give me a FUCKING break lady!

And if this really didn't even occur, and she is just outright lying, she should be ashamed of herself. How dare ANYONE think they have the right to take away a chunk of a hard earned empire such as Starbucks has grown to be. Not just with Starbucks, but with anyone being disloyal, or TOTALLY EXAGGERATING with something as serious as a LAWSUIT, well, has no class or self worth what so ever. You don't cry RAPE if a man just touches your shoulder, your don't STEAL other people's money, you don't do alot of things because it just isn't right. And most importantly, you don't LIE about getting burned, or about the severity of the injuries you alledgedly sustained from a coffee spill. It's immoral, and such an awful thing.


People are so litigious these days... get over it.. Everyone wants something for nothing... you know how many times I have spilled crap on me while making drinks? How many times I have slipped and fall, at least a few... But I am still here, the fact is it is usually your fault.. People have to quit trying to lay blame on someone else for a buck, just because you had an accident. I was embarrassed when I fell once at a Walmart, there were no signs, and I slipped on some water.. But I didn't sue, because you know what? I should have been watching where I was walking!

I once had a lady at Starbucks, come in and walk in the middle of signs posted everywhere on the floor, and she alsmost slipped, because she was on her phone! --And not paying attention, to the FOUR WET FLOOR SIGNS! And she actually copped an attitude about it with us and insisted we give her something for her "trouble", She didn't even fall down, she just ALMOST Fell down...and it was her own fault-- what is the world coming to?


I have read all the comments here and agree with some and disagree with others. Let me tell you my wife's own personal story.

My wife, who doesn't drink coffee, Father's day morning 2004 at 5:45am, went to our local Starbucks to get me a cup of coffee for breakfast. At the drive thru, as the young girl was handing her the coffee out the drive thru window, the lip popped off and the coffee spilled onto her hand as the cup was placed into her hand. The coffee that was served to her cause 2nd to 3rd degree burns over 40% of her left hand. She is a registered nurse, and works at a local hospital. At first she too didn't think the burn was that bad, however, by 8am she had open blisters over the burn area, and was actually treated in the emergency room. She was not allowed to work for almost four weeks until the burns were at least partially healed due to the inability to put on latex gloves over the burns.
The manager at the Starbucks immediately filled out an accident report the morning of the incident and was very helpful. It was actually the manager's decision to file report, not ours. She informed us the Starbuck's legal department would contact us with 48-72 hours, and would take care of our medical expenses. We were contacted in 2 days, but not by the legal department, but customer service. They apologized for the incident and offered us a $25 gift card for the inconvenience. We asked what we should do with the bills once they come, and they basically laughed at us.

We ended up filing a lawsuit against Starbucks due mainly to the fact that they never wanted to acknowledge anything. We aren't looking for millions of dollars, nor are we expecting that to happen. All we are looking for is for her expenses to be paid (approximately $2500 in medical bills and $3000 in lost wages) and something for some pain and suffering.

I have pictures of her hand at the time of the incident, and for everyone that says you can't get burned by a cup of coffee, email me and I will send you the pictures of her hand.

We are not people out to make money off of this, but at what point did my wife do anything negligent in any way? If Starbucks would have just stepped up and said, "Hey, we're sorry, send us the bills and we will take care of them", then we would have been happy.


I got shot at starbucks during a robbery. I have 30K worth of medical and because it shattered my femur and I couldn't walk, drive, or work for over 6 months...I am probably going to have to close my business and file bankruptcy. What confuses me, is starbucks acted the same to me, oh send anything not covered. I assumed their insurance covered personal liablity but I guess not. What I don't think is fair is that I have to dump my whole life and start over from scratch because I was at a Starbucks at the wrong place, wrong time. I still go to starbucks alot, but I don't sit outside at their cafes anymore. And, I did think this was the type of thing insurance covered. Call me a whiner if you want but I personally think this sucks big time. I own stock in Starbucks and go there nearly daily for my beverages...I am a die hard fan. I still think my bills and loss of wages should be taken care of.


I will admit I did not read all the posts however it seems to me that somehow you are all blaming the victim. What ever happened to a little compassion and understanding? You don't know for certain what exactly happened, (unless you were there) and neither do I but I will give the girl the benefit of doubt, and wish her well. Starbucks is a huge corporation that got that way because of their customers, open your eyes people...you've been ....


I got burned the other day at a RaceTrac gas station. I went to fill a cup with coffee from the flavored coffee machine. I pressed the button and instead of the coffee going into my cup, boiling water poured out all over my hand. My hand turned red, and it hurt a lot! I certainly am not incapacitated from it, but it did upset me a bit. You ought to be able to buy a drink without risking getting burned! I reported the incident and told them they needed to watch out for this. I've since had two calls back to me from them. I'll let you know what they say to me about the incident.

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