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October 28, 2008


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Didn't something similar happen with McDonald's coffee?


if the lid wasnt attached correctly by the starbucks employee then this burned person will probably get something out of it. probably not 250k, but something. maybe starbucks will settle for like 50k or less, or maybe they dont do that and it would go to trial, but even though the person is stupid for balancing it on their thigh, if the lid wasnt attached correctly then starbucks is probably responsible, but then again i dunno how u'd prove that the lid wasnt on right and that the person just didnt dump it on themselves on purpose. who knows.


*big sigh*

Here we go agaaaaainn...

Mrs. Tillinghamshackles

Melody, what's your take on this?


A way to solve this problem: The lid-check-system.

Barista 1: "OK I've got the Grande Latte ready here to hand off at the DT"

Barista 2: "Alright let's do our checks."

*Barista 2 grabs clipboard and a form*

Barista 2: "OK, is the lid properly secured?"

Barista 1: "OK, yes, it is. Double check?"

Barista 2: "Yes, it's on. OK, I'll just need your signature here..."


Barista 2: "And initial here..."


Barista 2: "OK we're set, you can now hand it off to the customer."

Barista 1: "Here is your Grande Latte, miss. Now if we could just get you to sign and initial here stating that your lid is secure, we can then send you on your way..."

Customer: "Oh, OK?"

Barista 1: "While you're signing can I interest you in a sample of our wonderful Vivanno??"



Sucks that they got burned. Probably just want free money, though. Most of the customers I've had legit. burned didn't really care. Some burn cream, usually by my urging, and they are off. I even spilled some onto a customers crotch once -- he was a great guy about it and got free coffee for a week. Last time I gave a re-fill back without a lid on it, just not worth the risk.


I swear, how does "balancing the cup" on your thigh prove to be intelligent in any way anyway? People like this need should not be allowed to have offspring, stop the stupidity in it's tracks.


LOL - not my area of the law. But generally speaking, a person can get money in this situation. It's usually not worth it (for Starbucks) to take something like this all the way to trial, and far cheaper to quickly settle and try to just make it go away - if there's any kind of colorable negligence claim in the plaintiff's allegations.


"Jordan"...enough said.


Sheik, Thank you for the laugh.

Maybe we should pass the cup and say, "be careful. The coffee is hot. Please do not drive with it on your leg, between your legs and for Heaven's Sake, do not squeeze the cup when you make turns or it could loosen the lid."


Call me harsh, but this woman was an idiot. If I'd done something that stupid, I'd be too embarassed to tell anyone, let alone sue the company for my own idiocy. I hope she gets medical bills paid and $5 starbucks card, and a lifetime supply of ridicule.

according to that article, she requested that the particular store monitor the temperature of the coffee.

um. now we are supposed to serve lukewarm coffee? right.

this reminds me of the time a woman ordered a solo espresso, poured about four ounces of half and half into it, and complained that it was cold. there's no pleasing anybody.

Pat Nerr

who says you can't make a good living at Starbucks?


This customer is crazy....
I am glad I quit starbucks..the end is near..$$$$$$$$$$$$
I need to finish college.........it matters to me............


My gut instinct is to say that this is CRAZY. Balancing a cup of hot coffee on your thigh while "negotiating a turn onto a roadway"?!

But, though the customer was obviously negligent, the barista was perhaps equally negligent. If anything, Starbucks should cover half of her medical bills plus some nominal amount for their share of her pain and suffering. Should max out at the statutory maximum for a small claims case — like $5000, tops.

OK, First of all why ws she balancing such a hot ( she said she could feel the heat through the sleeve) bev on her leg. Second of all the law suit does not specify the bev. And finally, a first degree burn ( diagnosed by her dr.) only effects the epidermis. There is rarely any blistering in a first degree burn. And never any disfigurement in a 1st degree burn.


"[She] balanced the extremely hot cup of coffee on her thigh with her hand on top of the cup as she pulled away from the window and negotiated a turn onto the roadway,"

Um. They're called cupholders. Most cars have them.


We've had issues with defective cups before, where the top rim of the cup was not quite properly shaped. The lid would appear secure at first but as soon as someone compressed the sides of the cup even slightly, the lid would pop off. So, can we sue our manufacturers for the countless times I've gotten burned hands from that happening (thankfully BEFORE I handed it off to a customer)?

Also, any person that doesn't know that it is unwise to hold any sort of container by its removable lid should probably be removed from the gene pool.


Ah, the things people will do for money...


Just so you guys all know,

In Canada its not a policy for baristas to put lids on hot drinks, whatever it may be, coffee, tea, boiling water, whatever.

anyhow, i think the policy writers knew something that made the policy to put lids on in the US. there are more law suites on burning hot drink spills in the US every year.

guys and gals in the US, no offence intended but please smarten up, you get a cup of coffee, it is gonna be hot. it even says so on the cup and on the lid and on the sleeve.

you like to be safe, watch out, don't spill it. You want to make a show out of it, spill it on yourself, cry a little, and just a like a kid, see if anyone will pay you more attention if you cry louder.

Don't drive and drink, whatever your drink may be, especially hot coffee, while turning a corner.

that was my two cents, grow up, put the cup somewhere flat and stable and watch out for it tripping over.


i was driving...talking on my phone...trying to make a left turn...in traffic...all while adjusting my sunglasses and balancing a HOT COFFEE ON MY THIGH!?!?!

what a stupid stupid person. i feel sorry for her...i hope her lawsuit gets thrown out of court.


Can we just give her $250,000 in Starbucks Cards?


I mean when i spill cover on my bare hand, of course it's hot. But, when I spill coffee on a part of my body that is protected by clothing, it's hot, but not lawsuit hot. Let's see what she actually does for a living, is she without a job, has she never ordered coffee through a drive thru. She shouldn't be lazy then, and just walk in the store.

I really think Starbucks should take this to court. If not, every person will spill some coffee on themselves to make sbux go bankrupt. Look what happened with the tips situation.

Don't get bullied around by consumers. If she wants something, how about an Iced Coffee next time so that when she does the same thing, she'll just feel really stupid about it.

Why in the world would she admit that she was trying to balance it on her thigh anyway? just plain stupid. SHE should pay sbux for wasting their time on this case.


The lawsuit is silent on what Triplett ordered.
I'm guessing she either ordered an extra hot whatever or brewed coffee.

Whatever she ordered, she knew right away it was hot
That tends to be the case when you order a hot drink.

"She experienced extreme heat radiating through the cup and protective cardboard sleeve,"
Again, she either ordered brewed coffee or her milk extra hot.

"[She] balanced the extremely hot cup of coffee on her thigh with her hand on top of the cup as she pulled away from the window and negotiated a turn onto the roadway."
How about holding the drink in your hand or putting it in the cup holder like anyone with common sense would do?

Once on Kingston Pike, Triplett noticed "the lid of the coffee container was loose and not affixed properly,"
While possible, I think most people notice loose lids within a few seconds on holding their drink.

Before Triplett could achieve a better grasp upon the cup, the lid dislodged from the cup, thereby causing scalding coffee to spill and splash onto [her] lap, right thigh and right hand,"
Before Triplett started driving, she should have had a grasp on the cup. Or put in the cup holder. (Anyone see a trend here?)

The coffee soaked through her denim jeans, causing her to cry out in severe pain
3rd time-- it was either extra hot milk or brewed coffee

"Triplett immediately contacted the Starbucks franchise where she purchased the scalding coffee to inform them of the incident and to request that the employees be more careful in attaching the lids to the container and monitor the temperature of the coffee," the lawsuit states. "The Starbucks agent was incredibly unresponsive."
4th time-- either extra hot milk or brewed coffee. While it is possible that a barista served 180+ degree milk without realizing (we are human), I find this to hard to fathom. No matter where you order brewed coffee from, it is generally around 200 degrees. By a general rule, coffee is made with water right below boiling... If this store in question has a history of complaints from customers about lids popping off, I could see where there could be a case. Otherwise this lawsuit appears to be her own fault.

How exactly do you prove or disprove whether a lid was secure? Its because of this reason, someone could easily just pull a lid off the cup, dump the drink on themselves and get some money out of it... It's because of the infamous McD's lady and other idiots like this that our legal system is such a joke. And because our legal system is such a joke, large companies just save themselves the headache and give the person money to shut up and go away... And you gotta wonder- Do these type of people continue to visit the establishments they sue?


I do wish more people would use personal tumblers. Put the tumbler lid on securely, close the part you drink out of, and you can drive away and not use a cup holder, and be fine!


Hey, Jordan. Buy a car with a cupholder in it next time. Thanks.


ok, I've been with sbux 7 yrs. So if I get 250K every time I get burned, I should be giving Bill Gates a run for his money. So pay up SBUX, I need a new car.

Herman M

While I don't want to lessen the fact that she did injure herself, I must add a few observations. First, I try to live by a simple creed: don't put objects that could fold spindle mutilate or scald anywhere near the family jewels. Ryan, no worries about reproduction, folks that use their inner thighs as coffee cup holders are already well on the way to solving the reproductive conundrum you mentioned.

Second: ten and two, folks. If two is holding coffee, one is not driving responsibly. On the Pequod, we have a simple rule that any demanding task demands both hands. Steering, pulling on those rope things that run everywhere, climbing the sail poles, handling a harpoon when the captain sees a whale. You get the picture.

Third: in my burned experience, an improperly fitted lid usually comes off when the customer grabs the cup, causing the drink to pour on my hand well before the cup enters the car.

Coffee Mistress

This is why we hold the drinks by the lid when handing them out the window. If there is a defective lid/cup, it burns us (workman's comp) rather than the customer (lawsuit). We call this a "Best Practice." And, yes, I have had a venti black coffee drop onto my foot. Another reason to follow dress code, folks. Leather shoes reduce the chance of burns. My feet are proof.


i have noticed alot of lids were not cut right in alot our orders latley, also if you grab a cup from the bottom of the holder, chances are the rim of the cup is bent, if i had a nickle for every customer talking on the cell phone while driving through the drive-up. which is illegal.its a recipe for disaster, ill bet anything she also she had a phone in one hand..pay attention,lady

of course its the barista's fault.
of course.

Maybe Starbucks should shut down all the drive-thurs, that would solve the problem. :)


I actually tell customers from time to time: "Please be careful, it's really hot."

Why? Because I have been burned by coffee way too many times and it freaking hurts.

Still, though, suing over hot coffee is sooo nineties.

Maybe Starbucks should shut down all the drive-thurs, that would solve the problem. :)

Posted by: | October 28, 2008 at 09:34 PM

Great idea!!! Then we can start the looonnnggg journey of going back to being an actual cafe. I like this.

(We all know it's going to be a "long journey" because of all the other crap that would have to change in order to accomplish this.)

leanna jackson

haha... i'm sure implementing a checklist for barista #1 and their lid inadequacies would solve all starbucks' problems. loved it. thanks sheik.

maybe she'll take $250k in gift cards and run. as long as she doesn't come in for them on christmas eve like everyone else.


everyone that works at starbucks can back me up....
we get burned DAILY by everything....

that person needs to grow a pair and get over it.

and boom goes the dynamite.

How is it that the same people who are barely ekeing out a living as a barista are now qualified to speak as expert attorneys.

If you don't understand the law; don't guess because you feel complelled to comment,

How do you know there aren't any expert attorneys among them? Seems like most of them have a better grasp of punctuation than you do.

Whoops, sorry, that was elitist, wasn't it?


I've definitely had something similar happen to me before. I had a car with a busted cup holder, so I put the coffee in my lap (which was standard practice for me). My legs squeezed the cup just slightly (causing the lip to pop off without me realizing) and when I went to pick the cup up, the coffee spilled everywhere. Totally my fault, as I knew I had been a complete moron.

My guess is, that's probably what happened to this woman. However, instead of owning up to her own negligence, she decided to make a quick buck out of it. Baristas are pretty good at noticing if a lid isn't attached properly, as the newer lids make a tiny "snap" noise when they are on. I also test the lid with my finger as I am handing it off to make double sure. So while there may be a chance that it was the fault of the barista, my bet is that the lady squeezed the cup between her legs just enough for the lid to pop off without realizing that's what she had done.


I once burned the back of one my hand under the hot-water tap when making a tea (I was distracted and looked away and moved my hand), and that was HOT. I know the water is just shy of boiling. But guess what? My hand looks fine; it was just red and scaly for a few days.

That said, what a dumb woman, get some frigging cupholders. If you have the bad luck to own a car without them, you can buy ones that clip onto your window for about $1.50 at Wal-Mart.

I bet they'll give her some money to go away, but what an idiot.

Jay V

Hey, Yo, who said: "everyone that works at starbucks can back me up.... we get burned DAILY by everything...." YOU should sue them, too! Do you have first and second degree burns to back up your case? If not ... phase 1: burn yourself badly. phase 2: ???. phase 3: PROFIT!

Sorry. I jest, not at your expense, but at the absurdity of this lawsuit.

But in all honesty, Ms. Triplett, how could you think it is not even negligent of yourself in the first place to, "balance the [...] coffee on your thigh," while you're driving, as alleged in your lawsuit, filed by Mr. Isaacs?

I would offer condolences for the burns in your inner thigh and vaginal area, except you negated any sympathy from me by your frivolous lawsuit. Don't you realize that the state of Tennessee already has other, more serious, tasks at hand than yours?

Take some responsibility for your own actions, rescind your lawsuit, and let the justice league tend to actual criminals.


I personally don't think she'll get a dime. Once she left the drive she left the premises then noticed the lid was loose, then it's on her. For all we know the lid was on fastened to the cup securely when it was handed to her. How will she be able to prove it was a starbucks partner that didn't make sure the lid was fastened securely. It could have been something she did. I certainly don't see any evidence that will be able to further her cause. If the coffee spilled on her as it was being handed to her from the drive through window, that's a different story. Nope, she won't get anything.


And I don't think Starbucks will give her money or try to settle the case, because that would be the same thing as admitting guilt. It would just open the floodgates.
You would have every schmuck who just happens to 'accidentally' burn their crotch because they noticed the lid wasn't on tight after some period of time after they bought the coffee - regardless if they themselves caused the lid to become unsecure. If I were Starbucks, I would fight it.


Is there any vehicle made today that lacks a cup holder????

Jay V

tp2: "Is there any vehicle made today that lacks a cup holder????"

Mopeds and quads. There's TWO! ^_^


Sbux absolutely dosn't settle in these cases.

Earlier this year I had to participate in an identical case with several of my managers.

Sbux did absolutely EVERYTHING not to pay any money to the customer - hired a very expensive team of lawyers, investigated the crap out the customer and their entire family and many friends, followed the customer and on and on. Solo cups ended up settling with the customer givi9ng them $10,000. Sbux won their case in the end and the customer had to pay some legal fees to Sbux, but it was quite a ride.

The sad reality is, the partner DIDN'T put the lid on right and the customer DID get burned.

Sigh. Sheik makes a funny joke out of it above, but so many DT partners don't put the lids on right. And, if any one of you had this happen, you would be really pissed off too. It's just plain WRONG to blame the customer when it is our job to get the lid on right. Balancing on her knee, head or shoulder wouldn't be a problem if the lid was on right!

Funny aside - I was sitting in on a Barista certification one day last year when she unexpectedly stood up and announced she was quitting. I asked why. She said "I didn't realize there would be so many hot things here". GEEZ!!!!

Thats why most cars have a cup holder.?I pull your head out ....

Perhaps the police should issue her a ticket for distracted driving.


i have burned myself so many times trying to give excellent speed of service to some ungrateful twat of a customer or another... yet another entitlement b**** whining about something for money.


Uhh yeaaaaah... I've had a fellow co worker spill a grande cup of coffee on my head and back of the neck when he tripped over me since I was crouching trying to grab somn out of a cabinet...

Yeah it hurt, but I was fine... I didnt go the ER b/c I'm not a baby like this customer...

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