May 18, 2017 – Starbucks must pay $100,000 to a woman severely burned when a lid popped off a cup and poured scalding hot coffee in her lap. The jury rendered the verdict following convincing arguments from Morgan & Morgan attorneys Steve Earle and Ashley Winstead.
During trial, Earle and Winstead argued that Starbucks should warn its customers of the lids’ propensity to pop off, noting that the 20 ounce Venti size cup of hot Pike’s Place coffee was filled to within a quarter-inch of the top when the lid fell off and gave her first and second-degree burns on her mid-section.
Earle lauded the jury’s decision to award his client $85,000 for pain and suffering, physical impairment, disfigurement, inconvenience, and loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, and about $15,000 for the medical bills she had in connection with her life-altering injury.
“My client didn’t want sympathy from the jury — she wanted justice — and the jury gave it to her with its verdict,” Earle said. “It was good to see a just result.”
The burn injury occurred in July 2014, when the woman, a 43-year-old mother of three, was receiving coffee orders at the drive-thru of a Jacksonville Starbucks. As she accepted the hot coffee cup and prepared to pass it to her passenger, the lid popped off, spilling 190-degree coffee in her lap. She was left with permanent scarring.
During trial, a Starbucks representative testified that the company gets 80 complaints a month about lid leaks and lids popping off. Despite that knowledge, and awareness about other issues, Starbucks argued that it “would not be relevant” to warn customers of the risk. The jury thought otherwise.
The case is Joanne Mogavero v Starbucks Corp, case number 2015-CA-003129, in the Circuit Court for the Fourth Judicial Circuit in and for Duval County, Florida.