The McDonald’s hot coffee case of 1994 is one of the most well-known lawsuits of all time, resulting in a jury award of $2.86 million for the plaintiff. Unfortunately for one Florida woman, Starbucks appears not to have learned from McDonald’s costly and negligent mistake. As a result of a faulty coffee cup lid, 43-year-old Florida resident Joanne Mogavero received first- and second-degree burns to her lap after ordering coffee from a drive-thru Starbucks location in Jacksonville. The jury sided with Mogavero, awarding her a total of $100,000 in her product liability lawsuit.
The case began in 2014 when Mogavero ordered a 20-ounce Venti Pike Place roast from a barista at the Starbucks location’s drive-thru window. When she was handed the coffee, the lid on the cup popped off. This caused the 190-degree coffee to spill all over Mogavero’s lap, resulting in first- and second-degree burns that lead to permanent scarring.
According to the plaintiff and her lawyers, Starbucks was responsible for Mogavero’s burns due to “failing to adequately” secure the lid before handing her the coffee. Mogavero further demonstrated that this was a widespread problem at the company thanks to the testimony of a Starbucks employee who reported that the company knew that its coffee cup lids were prone to coming off unexpectedly. This unnamed worked disclosed that Starbucks receives approximately 80 complaints each month regarding lids coming off as well as lid leaks. In spite of this, Starbucks had not issued a warning to customers about the potential for serious burns from a faulty lid.
In the end, the Duval County jury sided with Mogavero, finding that Starbucks was 80 percent at fault for Mogavero’s injuries. The resulting $100,000 jury award was comprised of $15,000 for Mogavero’s medical bills and $85,000 for physical impairment, disfigurement, pain and suffering, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment. Starbucks has publicly responded to the verdict by stating that they support their employees and believe that the barista in question was not at fault for the spill and resulting burns. In addition, the company is considering filing an appeal.
Interestingly, Mogavero’s lawsuit is not the first such lawsuit that has been filed against Starbucks, although it seems to be the first case that the coffee giant has lost. For example, in 2016, a Houston woman had almost the exact same experience as Mogavero when a faulty lid caused her drive-thru coffee order to spill all over her. These other cases, however, seem to have ended in settlement, dismissal or a finding in Starbucks’ favor.
Are you facing costly injuries that are affecting your life due to someone else’s negligence? Seeking the advice of an experienced and qualified personal injury lawyer is critical. Contact the skilled legal team at Armando Personal Injury Law Firm today to find out more about your rights and remedies under Florida law.