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They may seem silly on the surface, but many hot coffee and tea lawsuits are no laughing matter. While it may be tempting to rhetorically wonder what temperature these customers were expecting from their drinks, they certainly weren't expecting the serious burns the boiling beverages can cause.
And most of those previous hot tea injuries didn't result in a loss of life. Sadly, that was the case for Deanna Salas-Solano, whose dog Alexander succumbed to burn injuries from a hot tea she purchased from Starbucks. And now she's suing the coffee company for burns she suffered and the loss of Alexander.
According to Solas-Solando's lawsuit, the lid of the 20-ounce hot tea she ordered at a Denver drive-thru Starbucks was not secured onto her cup. She also claims the tea neither had a hot cup sleeve, nor was it double-cupped. The temperature of the cup was so hot, it burned her hands, causing her to spill the tea into her lap and giving her second-degree burn injuries to her abdomen and thighs, serious enough that she would later need skin grafts.
The spill also allegedly caught the attention of Alexander, who leapt into Solas-Solando's lap in response to her screaming. The dog was burned as well, and "ultimately succumbed to the injuries caused by the tea, dying a short time later." The lawsuit is seeking over $100,000 in damages.
The coffee chain, for its part, says video evidence contradicts the lawsuit's claims. Denver's KDVR was able to view the video:
It shows Salas-Solano on her cellphone with her dog in her in her lap as she buys the tea.
The video also shows the hot tea did have a hot sleeve and it appears the lid was secure, though the video is not conclusive.
In the video, it's hard to tell if Salas-Solano grabs the cup by the hot sleeve or by the lid when she accidentally spilled it.
It's hard to determine if she spilled the tea because of the cup's hot temperature or because she was distracted by her cellphone use or if perhaps her dog bumped into the cup while he stood in her lap.
"[W]e don't have any reason to believe our partner (employee) was at fault," Starbucks said in a statement. "We look forward to presenting our case in court."