Woman sues Starbucks, claims hot tea burned her legs and killed her dog
A Denver, Colorado woman has filed a lawsuit against Starbucks alleging one of their hot beverages scalded her and her dog – the latter fatally so.
According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Denver on Monday, Deanna Solas-Solando, 58, ordered a Venti hot tea at a Starbucks drive-thru location on Sept. 27, 2015.
Solas-Solando alleges she did not order the tea “extra-hot” and that the Starbucks barista did not take the proper steps to ensure her safety.
“At the time of the service, the lid of the tea was not secured onto the cup,” the lawsuit, filed by Solas-Solando and her attorneys, Sean Leventhal, Jonathan Sar and Brian Pushcha alleges.
The suit further alleges that the tea “did not have a hot cup sleeve” and was not “double-cupped.”
Solas-Solando says the “unreasonably hot” drink began to burn her hands almost immediately upon taking hold of it, the hot liquid spilling out of the top of the cup and causing her clothing to melt, according to the lawsuit.
That’s when Solas-Solando’s dog Alexander, apparently alerted by her “screaming for help and writing and moaning in pain” jumped onto her lap and was himself scalded.
“Alexander was taken to an emergency veterinarian hospital,” the suit alleges.
“Alexander ultimately succumbed to the injuries caused by the tea, dying a short time later.”
Solas-Solando was taken to Rose Medical Center for treatment, and says she eventually received skin grafts from the Swedish Medical Center Burn and Reconstructive Unit after receiving second-degree burns to “2 per cent of her total body area,” specifically on her thighs and stomach.
Solas-Solando is seeking in excess of $75,000 USD in damages according to her suit, alleging among other things that the Starbucks barista did not follow company policy in using a double-cup for extra-hot beverages.
The suit also alleges that a “wall-timer” graded employees on the speed with which they can move customers through the drive-thru, contributing to the alleged carelessness which led to her injury.
The allegations made in the lawsuit have not been proven in court.
In a statement to media, Starbucks vigorously denies the allegations and says video evidence will exonerate their employee in court.
“We have video evidence that clearly contradicts the claims made by the plaintiff and believe they are without merit,” the company said. “We look forward to presenting our case in court.”
“While we are sympathetic to Ms. Salas-Solano and the injuries she sustained, we don’t have any reason to believe our partner (employee) was at fault.”
Reached at his legal firm in Denver on Wednesday, attorney Sean Leventhal declined to comment public as so early a stage in the process.
“We’re not providing any comments until we begin the discovery process,” Leventhal told Global News.
The suit calls to mind the well-known 1994 lawsuit wherein a New Mexico woman successfully sued McDonald’s for $640,000 after she suffered severe burns as a result of a spilled cup of coffee.
In that case, the woman and McDonald’s eventually settled of out court for an undisclosed amount.
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