Hot Coffee Lawsuit Against Starbucks Just Lost Steam – Jury Says No To Damages


In the hot coffee lawsuit against Starbucks, a North Carolina jury has decided that the Seattle based coffee company was not responsible for the coffee spilled by a Raleigh police officer. Lt. Matt Kohr was after damages up to $750,000 for the coffee that he spilled on his lap, but a jury decided by a 10-2 vote that Starbucks owes him nothing. Starbucks stood by their original statement that their employees did nothing to cause the incident three years ago.

Starbucks-Lawsuit-CoffeeLt. Kohr reluctantly accepted the decision of the jury even though it wasn’t unanimous. Starbucks, of course, was satisfied with the verdict. Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens does not normally expect unanimous decisions from twelve jurors. Lt. Kohr, on the police force for approximately 20 years, testified during trial that the lid came off of his coffee as he was sitting down, spilling over his lap and burning his thighs. It is reported that he went to urgent care for treatment of third-degree burns on his legs (pictures of the burn were presented in court).

Lt. Kohr has Crohn’s disease, and claimed in the lawsuit that the spill caused his Crohn’s disease to flare up, escalating into his need for surgery to remove part of his intestine. He also claimed he and his wife had emotional distress from the incident.

The jury in Judge Stephen’s court, according to a local North Carolina TV station (WNCN), decided that the hot coffee spill was not the cause of any of his surgical or Crohn’s disease issues.

Among Lt. Kohr’s ongoing medical conditions were his depression, his inability to control anxiety, and therefore, his use of the drug Xanax, commonly used for panic disorders. According to Xanax information, elderly people are subject to falls when taking this medication. Lt. Kohr had been seeing a psychiatrist who testified at the court.

In 1990, a similar suit, filed against McDonalds, awarded an elderly woman close to $3 million in damages. She had spilled coffee in her lap, also resulting in third-degree burns.

We’re adults. We should act like adults and use caution like adults. If you’re holding a hot liquid that could potentially scald your skin, you have the responsibility to make sure the container holding the hot liquid is working properly BEFORE you rely on it to keep you safe.

It seems in this instance, it was another case of consumer irresponsibility that led to the hot coffee lawsuit against Starbucks.

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Kris Wade

Constitutionalist and realist. Entrepreneur, actor, sailor, writer. States’ rights advocate. You can contact me at

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