HOUSTON - Reminiscent of the infamous 1990s suit against McDonald’s, a Houston attorney is suing Starbucks for burns she allegedly received after spilling “boiling” coffee on her lap nearly two years ago.
Seeking up to $1 million in damages, Katherine Mize filed her suit June 16 in Harris County District Court. The Starbucks employee who served Mize the coffee, Brie (last name unknown), is also named as a defendant.
On the morning of July 13, 2014, Mize was at the drive through of a Houston Starbucks to purchase coffee for herself and her colleagues, “who were scheduled to do volunteer work that morning,” according to the lawsuit.
While Brie was handing a 20-ounce cup of coffee to Mize, she squeezed, causing the top to pop off and “ultimately showering Mize with boiling liquid,” the suit states.
The boiling point of water is 212 Fahrenheit. Starbucks serves it hot beverages at a temperature between 145 to 165 degrees, according to a Business Insider article.
“Although Brie observed Mize, neither she nor any of the Starbucks employees even attempted to assist her while she was in evident and excruciating pain, nor did they file a report to memorialize the event,” the suit states.
An acquaintance rushed Mize to the hospital. She was “forced to remain on her hands and knees in the back of the truck to prevent contact with the seared skin,” the suit states.
Mize accuses Brie of negligently failing to: secure the top, safely handle the hot beverage, pay attention and render aid after causing injury.
She further maintains Starbucks had a duty to provide coffee that “was not unreasonably dangerous.”
“By not heating the coffee to extreme temperatures Starbucks could easily have reduced the high probability that grave damage would be done to their customers with little to no extra effort on their part,” the suit states.
Starbucks also failed to properly train Brie on how to secure lids, the suit states.
Mize is suing for her pain, mental anguish, impairment, disfigurement, medical expenses and past and future lost earning capacity.
She is represented by Brian Humphrey II, attorney for the Houston law firm Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend.
Case No. 2016-41313