6 Examples of Coffee Shop Lawsuits

Coffee is a magical thing. It’s delicious. It provides energy when we need it. And it brings people together. Maybe that’s why opening a coffee shop seems to be a safe investment year after year.

Then again, nothing everything that glitters is “gold roast.” Coffee shops can hit hard times, especially when they are sued by their customers. Here are six examples of coffee shop lawsuits.

  1. Cumaica Coffee Shop in San Francisco

Perhaps one of the most frivolous coffee shop lawsuits occurred in San Francisco, California. Cumaica Coffee, a shop opened by Roberto Guerrero, was a bustling success for him and his family who emigrated from Nicaragua in the 1980s. However, a customer sent a letter to Roberto shortly after informing him that the store violated certain aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

These were minor features of the store: a recycling bin too close to the entrance and a pastry case too close to the counter. Roberto quickly changed the set-up of the shop, making sure nothing was violating ADA. But it was too late. The customer sued for $90,000. Although the violations were corrected, the plaintiffs’ lawyer conceded that it was too late for Roberto to avoid the lawsuit.

  1. McDonald’s Hot Coffee Lawsuit

Although McDonald’s isn’t exactly a coffee shop, they do serve coffee. In fact, they served such a hot cup in 1992 to then 79-year-old Stella Liebeck through a drive-through window that she spilled it on her lap. She sued the company and the jury awarded her nearly $3 million in punitive damages for the burns. 

  1. Starbucks Blood Drink

One of the more gross coffee shop lawsuits happened at a Starbucks located in California in 2016. A family found a barista’s blood smeared on the cups of their beverages. After the gross discovery, the family went to the location and asked for an explanation. They were worried and nauseated by the situation, so they asked managers if the employee whose blood it was would get a blood test.

After about a year or so of distressing interactions, the family is suing for negligence, emotional distress, battery, and assault.

So, if you own a coffee shop, make sure your employees aren’t bleeding on the job. The gross accident caused a lot of pain and anxiety to the family as well as a huge lawsuit for Starbucks. Protecting yourself with business insurance for coffee shops will save you a lot of worry in the future.

  1. Starbucks Unicorn Drink Copycat

Are you seeing a trend? Starbucks is riddled with lawsuits, probably because they’re the most recognizable coffee chain in the world. After their infamous Unicorn Frappuccino last summer, the chain was sued by a Brooklyn café, claiming they had ripped the idea off of them. The Brooklyn coffee shop is seeking unspecified compensation for “infringing, diluting, and otherwise diminishing the value of intellectual property.”

  1. Scalding Starbucks Tea

One of the more sad and bizarre coffee shop lawsuits was also with a Starbucks and also included a much too-hot drink. In Colorado, a woman ordered a tea drink in the drive-through. She claimed an employee had improperly served the cup to her through the window, causing it to spill, severely burning her and ultimately killing her dog who was also in the car.

According to the woman, she did not specify she wanted her drink “extra hot,” and the beverage was not double cupped and lacked a hot-cup sleeve. Ultimately, the tea spilled out of the unsecured cup onto the woman, burning her body. She was writhing in pain, causing her dog to jump into her lap and having more of the hot tea spill onto the dog. Both were treated for skin damage, and the dog died later that day.

  1. Cancer Coffee Lawsuit

This one’s big. Although coffee is known for its long list of health benefits, coffee in California will now come with a consumer warning about cancer. This is because in 2010 someone filed a lawsuit that required sellers to warn customers about the ingestion of acrylamide, a possibly cancer-causing chemical which is produced when coffee beans are roasted.

In failing to post carcinogen warnings that are mandatory in the state of California, 13 defendants, including 7-Eleven, settled and agreed to post warnings. The incident probably could have been avoided altogether if the shops included a warning of the toxic chemical, but they didn’t think it was linked.

So, there you have it. Here are six examples of some of the worst coffee shop lawsuits over the years. Be wary of incidents like these when it comes to running your own shop. Additionally, try to be prepared for any risks or possibly lawsuits but investing in business insurance for your store. That way, you’re ready for the worst.

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