A North Carolina jury decided on Monday morning that Starbucks will not have to pay damages to a Raleigh, North Carolina, police officer who allegedly spilled a cup of the chain’s coffee on his lap.
Lt. Matthew Kohr and his wife, Melanie Kohr, sued Starbucks for $750,000, noting that Kohr's medical expenses included surgery to remove part of his intestine. Kohr suffered from third-degree burns after the lid of his to-go cup popped off and the paper cup reportedly collapsed.
Per Starbucks’ policy, Kohr received about 50 cups of free coffee over the course of two months for being in uniform before he received a faulty cup. In order to accept the drinks, Kohr placed the price of the coffee into the tip jar, which he was required to do by his department's policy.
According to Kohr, who suffers from Crohn's disease, the accident caused a massive flare-up. He was reportedly in and out of work and the hospital as a result of the burns. Kohr’s doctors also testified about the depression Kohr suffered following the incident.
A manager from the coffee shop testified that all hot beverages served in "Venti" cups are supposed to be handed over with a protective sleeve or a secondary cup. Though neither of those protective actions were taken in Kohr’s case, the jury concluded that the mistake was not enough to place the blame on Starbucks.
“We are pleased with the jury's decision as we believe our [employees] did nothing wrong,” Starbucks wrote in an email to WRAL. “The safety of our customers and partners will continue to be our top priority."
The verdict was reached after both sides agreed that a decision could be made by a majority of the jurors rather than all.
Photo Credit: WRAL