Woman Sues Starbucks After Drinking Coffee Containing Cleaning Chemicals


You’ve likely heard of the famous McDonald’s “hot coffee” case, in which 79-year-old Stella Liebeck – in Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants (1994) – successfully sued the mammoth fast food chain after one of their locations served her scalding hot coffee, which accidentally spilled onto her thighs and pelvic region and left her with truly gruesome third-degree burns.

As our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg & Aronberg know, now, in 2015, another high-profile food and beverage company is on the receiving end of a lawsuit concerning the coffee one of its customers was served. That certain chain is Starbucks, the largest coffee chain in the world, which brought in over $16 billion in revenue last year. The woman who filed the suit against Starbucks, seeking more than $2 million in damages, initiated the proceedings after she allegedly consumed Starbucks coffee that contained poisonous cleaning chemicals.

The plaintiff in the case, Cheryl Kingery, claimed that she suffered serious damage to her esophagus after she drank coffee from a Starbucks location in Utah. The lawsuit filed late last month states that Kingery consumed a cleaning product specially designed to clean coffee and espresso equipment.

The product liability lawsuit further claims that, because of the damage the chemical cleaning solution did to her esophagus, Kingery is suffering from Burning Mouth Syndrome as well as a loss of taste, numbness in the lips and tongue, and oral nerve damage. It does not take a mechanical specialist to understand that poisonous chemical cleaning liquids should be removed in their entirety from coffee and espresso machines before any coffee or any other liquid to be consumed by anyone should be run through the machine. Our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers know that poisonous cleaning solutions such as those apparently ingested by the plaintiff in this case should be nowhere near the coffee served to customers.

Clearly, if Kingery did indeed consume the cleaning chemical along with her coffee as served to her in a Starbucks location, Starbucks is liable for her damages – and perhaps even for punitive damages. People go to Starbucks for many reasons: for a kick-start to the day, to savor the taste of a favorite specialty drink, to chat with friends over an afternoon latte, etc. As our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers know, of all the reasons people have for going to Starbucks, the pursuit of a cup of coffee mixed with industrial machine cleaning liquids is not one of them.

When companies produce items and sell them to customers, they have a duty to ensure that they are providing their customers with safe items; in the case of Starbucks, the coffee giant has an explicit duty not to provide beverages harmful to one’s health. When their customers pay (their high prices) for their cup of coffee, they have a completely reasonable and lawful expectation that they will be consuming coffee, not coffee and poisonous cleaning chemicals.

If you have any questions about this coffee product liability case, or any other personal injury issue, or if you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence or recklessness of another individual or of a company, please contact our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg & Aronberg by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at daronberg@build.simple.biz. We look forward to assisting you!

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