The hot coffee lawsuit has become shorthand for Americans' often overzealous penchant for litigation, but that doesn't mean it's fallen out of vogue. No, the practice of suing a company for spilling hot coffee on yourself is still alive and well, and the latest defendant is Starbucks.
Christopher Romano has filed suit against the coffee giant after he allegedly suffered second-degree burns to his groin during a May 2015 visit to a Starbucks drive-thru window in Pompano Beach, Fla., according to the South Florida Reporter. But Romano's lawsuit differs from most other hot coffee suits in one major way: In addition to alleging that the coffee was "exceedingly hot," he also claims it was the employee who actually spilled it on him.
According to the complaint filed in Fort Lauderdale's Broward Circuit Court, "As the Starbucks employee handed the coffee to [Romano], the employee failed to confirm [Romano's] hold of the cup and, as a result, the employee let go of the cup before it was secured by [Romano], causing the entire contents of the hot coffee to fall into [Romano's] lap." Per the South Florida Reporter, Romano is seeking "damages in excess of $15,000" for the company's negligence.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a chain that specializes in hot beverages and has nearly 25,000 locations worldwide, it's not the first time Starbucks has faced such a lawsuit: Last May, a North Carolina jury ruled the company did not have to pay a police officer who claimed he suffered third-degree burns after a coffee cup lid collapsed. In November, another similar suit was filed against Starbucks, this one from a customer who says she suffered first- and second-degree burns after being served a cup of hot water that was "far too hot for a person to drink"; she's seeking $132,000 in damages.
Update 1:40 p.m.: Reached for comment by Eater, a rep for Starbucks said, "Starbucks is aware of the lawsuit filing and is investigating the plaintiff’s claims. While we are very sorry to hear of Mr. Romano’s reported injuries, we are unable to comment on active litigation matters."
Check out the original court complaint, below: