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Miami Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Miami Personal Injury Attorney > Starbucks Customer Burned by Hot Water

Starbucks Customer Burned by Hot Water


In a lawsuit eerily reminiscent of another, a Starbucks customer is claiming that she required skin grafts after spilling hot coffee on herself. The original lawsuit, filed in 1992, involved a 79-year-old woman who spilled coffee on herself in McDonald’s. This lawsuit was, in turn, held up as an example of frivolous litigation that resulted in a multi-million-dollar verdict. But afterward, HBO produced a documentary that framed the issue the same way jurors saw it.

Now, a similar lawsuit has been filed in Oregon where a woman claims that she also required skin grafts after spilling hot water on herself. She is seeking a modest $300,000 in damages.

Is This a Valid Complaint?

The original lawsuit against McDonald’s and this new lawsuit against Starbucks never claimed that either company was responsible for the spilling of the coffee or hot water. Both lawsuits simply claimed that the coffee and water were so hot, that a spill would inevitably lead to extremely serious injuries. In fact, the suits claim that these types of injuries were inevitable because the water and coffee were so hot.

In case you’re wondering, the original lawsuit which went in favor of the 79-year-old woman, led to McDonald’s reducing the heat on its coffee. So yes, this is a valid complaint regardless of who caused the spill. Both McDonald’s and Starbucks created a serious risk of third-degree burns by serving coffee and water that was 180 – 190 ℉ and could have prevented this danger by reducing the heat on their beverages.

Analyzing the Plaintiff’s Lawsuit

According to the lawsuit, Philina Cha ordered a cup of coffee and some hot water. She claims that the lid that she was given did not fit properly on the cup. The hot water spilled down her leg and into her boot resulting in very severe third-degree burns that eventually required skin grafts to remedy. She now has permanent scarring on her leg.

The key to the lawsuit will be determining what happened with the lid. If the lid malfunctioned and this led directly to the woman’s burns, then she has a very strong case against Starbucks. However, if she ordered the hot cup of water without a lid and then scalded herself, her claim will not be as strong. Working to her advantage is the fact that she required skin grafts to repair the damage. Skin grafts are the holy grail of burn injury lawsuits because they reflect just how serious the burn event was.

A similar complaint involving a defective lid was filed against Starbucks here in Florida. The woman was awarded $100,000 after the lid popped off her coffee and spilled into her lap.

Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Attorney Today

The office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. has handled several lawsuits involving burn injuries. Talk to our Miami personal injury attorneys today to set up a free consultation and we will hold the negligent party liable for their recklessness.





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