Wednesday, May 5, 2010

News Flash: Coffee Is Hot

Here we go again. It's frivolous lawsuit time! That's right! It's time for another ridiculous claim against a corporation. Get ready for more unnecessary precautions to protect and save everyone from themselves (because they're too stupid to take care of themselves and accept the consequences when they don't do so well at it). Actually, y'all should probably get ready for the day when you're not able to order anything hotter than tepid water at any food or beverage establish, lest you don't understand the meaning of the word "hot" and burn yourself on freaking coffee.

Welcome to the Starbucks store at 685 Third Avenue in Manhattan. This is where a one Zeynep Inanli (pronounce that however you'd like) purchased some tea. Because when you think tea, you think...Starbucks? Whatever. That's not really the point. The point is that...uh...Miss (This is a tricky one. I'm sorry, but I'm unable to determine the gender of Zeynep Inanli simply by looking at the name. Thus, I'm going to call this person The Greedy Plaintiff.) The Greedy Plaintiff Zeynep (TGPZ for short...and catchy!) claims that "...the tea was served "unreasonably hot, in containers which were not safe", according to the folks over yonder at
Reuters. Uh-huh.

It's a little unclear as to what "unreasonably hot" consists of in this situation. It's tea. It's not iced tea. It's hot tea. It's right there in the name. HOT tea. So in order to define what "unreasonably hot" would be, we're first going to have to define what hot is, for cryin' out loud. And I can't believe I'm typing this for someone who is NOT a three year old, but the definition of "hot" according to
Merriam-Webster is "a : having a relatively high temperature b : capable of giving a sensation of heat or of burning, searing, or scalding". OK, we can work with that.

Due to the nature of the half-assed reporting and the minimal details provided by the slackers over at Reuters, we don't know a lot about what actually happened. What they do tell us is that "As a result of Starbucks' negligence, the plaintiff suffered "great physical pain and mental anguish," including the burns". Hmmm. And I'm guessing that said 'negligence' was due to those "containers which were not safe" that I mentioned earlier? Why did they mention "including the burns" as part of the "great physical pain and mental anguish"? Are we so dumb that we might not think that BURNS would cause "great physical pain"? I want to know what ELSE is included WITH the burns that caused the "great physical pain"! What else was going on? Including the burns. Yeah, no kidding. Thanks for that.

OK, look, unless the container did not have a bottom on it, I'm guessing that the container is pretty much safe. (I don't even know what that sentence means! I've just attempted to define the SAFETY of a CUP! How do you even DO that without sounding like a crazy person? Clearly, one does not, as that sounded completely nuts.)

But here's what is really burning my toast: I have found numerous reports of TGPZ's lawsuit. And every single one of them feels the need to include something of this effect somewhere in the article: "In one well-known case, a jury in 1994 ordered McDonald's Corp to pay $2.86 million to Stella Liebeck, an Albuquerque, New Mexico woman who claimed she scalded herself with the restaurant's coffee. The parties later settled." That is the most misinterpreted example that is misused so frequently it makes me want to stab out my eyes every time I read it.

Yes, the chick sued Mickey D's after her coffee spilled on her lap and caused third degree burns. At the time of the injury, all the woman wanted was $20,000 to cover her medical bills (she ended up needing skin grafts for the damage done from all of the burning of the flesh from the coffee). McDonald's offered her $800. Also at the time, McDonald's had already fielded over 700 complaints from other folks who had burned themselves with their, yes, HOT coffee. The final award of $2.86 million was appealed down and down and ended up being less than $600,000 in the end.

Now, do I think that the woman should have sued because she spilled hot coffee on herself? No, of course not. That would be silly. My point here is that while the case is considered to be "well-known", it's really not. And no one seems to give a crap and it will continue to be wrongly cited until the end of time. Great. Craptastic reporting lives on!

The folks over at covered this story and, since there was so very little information about it to begin with, filled the majority of the segment with one of the biggest wastes of time ever, the man-on-the-street interviews. Let's find out what some of those ingenious New Yorkers had to say about this issue.

This man below said, "It's somewhat overreacting, but then again, Starbucks has to be careful about how they handle their products, too." Starbucks wasn't handling anything, sir. It was TGPZ that did the handling. They just gave her hot tea...that she asked for!

Then the roving reporter pointed out to the man that "It says right on the top of the lid 'CAUTION CONTENTS HOT'. Do you think that they need more than that for a warning?" More than what? What else are you going to SAY about it?! It's all there! Maybe "CAUTION CONTENTS IN THIS VERY CUP ARE REALLY HOT AND WE'RE NOT KIDDING, YOU MORON, SO DON'T SPILL IT'? Would THAT help? I don't think it would help this guy, because do you know what he responded? "I would say so because when people are thirsty, they usually don't read labels." Good point. Wait. I mean, what?!

So, he's saying that they need more than "HOT" on a label that people won't read when they're thirsty? He would like a cup that speaks to you, perhaps? Like those annoying Hallmark cards that sing to you when you open them? A mime in the store that acts out receiving horrific burns when he spills his coffee? What else can they do? They told you IT WAS HOT! If you're so dumb that you need a LABEL to tell you that the HOT coffee that you just ORDERED under your own free will is HOT, I don't think that there's much that's going to be able to help you. My question is how you have been able to keep yourself alive all of these years because you don't seem real bright.

The news report from WPIX is below. It is seriously one of the most poorly reported news stories I've ever seen.

It's unfortunate that Reuters ran with this story before getting more information. What exactly was burned on this person? Tongue? Lips? Toes? Earlobes? Groinal region? Some sort of bodily canal? What happened? And how much money is wanted here? What exactly the defect in the cup? What accompanied the burns? Why was TGPZ drinking tea at a Starbucks? So many questions. So few answers. Such a big, fat waste of time. Just because something bad happens to you, it doesn't mean someone needs to give you money. Keep that in mind.

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Anonymous said...

it happened outside of starbucks and she burned her wrist

Anonymous said...

btw it's a woman from turkey!
you can google her