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Verdict: Starbucks Won't Have to Pay Up for Coffee-Burned Cop

After weeks of deliberation, a jury sided with the coffee brand.


Today, one man is crying over his spilled coffee. A jury in North Carolina sided with Starbucks in a recent lawsuit between a cop, his spilled coffee, and the coffee giant. According to ABC News, Starbucks will not have the pay for the medical bills nor emotional losses a cop endured after the lid on the cup of his coffee malfunctioned, causing the hot liquid to spill onto his lap and stomach.

Back in March, Lieutenant Matthew Kohr, an officer in the Raleigh police department, said the lid collapsed and "the cup folded in on itself," causing him third degree burns. Kohr eventually needed "surgery to remove a portion of his intestine." His wife told the jury that she lost a "source of emotional support, her social companion and her intimate partner."

Jurors had been deadlocked for weeks. According to a local North Carolina news station, they collectively agreed with Judge Donald Stephens to go with a majority vote in order to avoid a mistrial.

The case was unique in its involvement of a member of law enforcement rather than a citizen. Still, Starbucks' attorney was able to question Kohr's "motivations, diagnoses, and treatments of Kohr's doctor," even arguing that despite providing the customer with a faulty lid, Starbucks was not at fault. Kohr had sued Starbucks for $750,000, but walks away instead with court room fees. Local residents sided with the jury's verdict, according to ABC.

Coffee burn lawsuits have become somewhat common following the landmark verdict in the case of Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants. In that 1992 case, Liebeck, the victim who spilled the hot coffee resulting in debilitating burns, was awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages, though the final verdict was reduced to $640,000. Since then, copycat lawsuits have almost always failed to award victims large payouts.