No “Stella” award for lawsuit over spilled tea
A Manhattan woman has failed to persuade a U.S. appeals court that Starbucks Corp should be held liable for severe burns she suffered after spilling tea served in a double cup.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld on Tuesday a lower court’s dismissal of a $3 million lawsuit brought by Rachel Moltner against the world’s largest coffee chain…
She spilled tea onto her left leg and foot when she tried to remove the lid from a “venti”-sized cup of tea, causing burns that required a skin graft. Her hospital stay later resulted in other injuries, including bed sores as well as herniated discs caused by a fall out of bed.
The plaintiff accused Starbucks of serving tea that was too hot in a double cup — one cup placed inside another — that was defectively designed. She also said Starbucks should have warned her the tea could spill.
Starbucks should post a sign saying “We retain the right to refuse service to klutzes”.
The appeals court rejected her case, saying “double-cupping is a method well known in the industry as a way of preventing a cup of hot tea from burning one’s hand…”
This is not the first time a restaurant or coffee retailer has faced a lawsuit over hot beverages.
In perhaps the best-known case, a jury in 1994 ordered McDonald’s Corp to pay $2.86 million to Stella Liebeck, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, woman who said she scalded herself with the restaurant’s coffee. The parties later settled.
And that’s why the “Stella” in my headline. The term is dedicated to lawsuits of this type. Opportunist, trying to make someone else accept responsibility for the plaintiff’s mistake.