Product News and Recalls

Starbucks Sued by Texas Woman Over Burn Injuries

starbucks sued over faulty coffee lidIt’s bad enough to get the wrong order when you swing through a drive-thru but in the case of Texas resident Mary Simms, the incorrect coffee order also left her with first- and second-degree burns.

After being handed the incorrect beverage at a Tomball, Texas Starbucks location, the employee then stopped Simms as she started to drive away and told her that she’d been given the wrong order. While handing the cup back to the employee, the lid came loose from the cup and emptied the piping hot contents onto Simms’ lap.

According to her lawsuit, Starbucks “knew or should have known of the unreasonably dangerous condition created by the failing lid, hot water and/or liquid of the coffee, and Defendant neither corrected nor warned Plaintiff of the same.” Simms is seeking less than $75,000 for lost wages, medical expenses related to the incident, and pain and suffering.

Spilled coffee lawsuits are an instant flashpoint in discussions about the American legal system, due most in part to a 1994 case brought against McDonald’s in which the plaintiff was initially awarded almost $3 million but had the amount reduced to $640,000. A confidential settlement was eventually reached after McDonald’s promised to appeal every decision not in its favor. Those who bring up the case often do so with the intent of showing frivolousness and the rush to bring legal action in this country. In fact, ABC News itself broadcasted that the case was “the poster child of excessive lawsuits.”

However, the facts of the case show a situation vastly more severe than the public legend would have one believe. The 79-year-old victim suffered second- and third-degree burns to her pelvic region when she was drenched with coffee served at a temperature of between 180 and 190 degrees. She was hospitalized for eight days while undergoing skin grafts and then endured another two years of additional medical treatment.

In the case of Starbucks, the Simms litigation is not the first time the coffee giant has been sued over the failure of one of their lids. A 2017 case resulted in a $100,000 award to a Florida woman who suffered burns under similar circumstances.