Joanne Mogavero got a cup of coffee at a Starbucks. The lid was not put on correctly. Coffee poured out and scalded her. She was just awarded $100,000 for the incident by a jury in Duval County, which surrounds the city of Jacksonville.
According to the New York Post: “The 43-year-old mom was at a Starbucks drive-thru in July 2014 when she ordered the Venti Pike’s Place coffee, her lawyer said.” The coffee was 190 degrees and scarred one area of her body on which it was spilled. The sum paid included $15,492.14 and $85,000 for “pain and suffering.”
This is not the first time the customer of a fast-food chain has been burned and then awarded damages. According to the Consumer Attorneys of California:
In 1992, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck bought a cup of takeout coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Albuquerque and spilled it on her lap. She sued McDonald’s and a jury awarded her nearly $3 million in punitive damages for the burns she suffered.
The Liebeck case became a legendary example of how a customer could sue a restaurant, and it continues to be the most famous example of these kinds of incidents.
That case was not the only one filed against McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD). There have been a number of others against it and Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX), including one filed against Starbucks by a police officer in North Carolina in 2012. The jury ruled against him. Starbucks comments about the incident, according to the L.A. Times: “We are pleased with the jury’s decision as we believe our partners [employees] did nothing wrong. The safety of our customers and partners will continue to be our top priority.”
Starbucks was not as fortunate this time.