500 Words – The Wrath of the Hot Coffee

Photo of a Coffee Cup Who knew that coffee was so dangerous? For coffee drinkers, the sight of steam rising out of our coffee cups is an all too often sight. In fact, when steam isn’t rising from our coffee cups, we typically run for the microwave or fetch a new brew. Apparently, a New York woman named Alice Griffin didn’t know that coffee was hot and didn’t know that hot coffee could cause burns. Or did she?

The article regarding the mentioned that a jury awarded $300,000 to the lady who suffered a 2-inch burn with some permanent nerve damage. Since the lady just happened to be a ballerina, she can no longer perform the dances she loves due to her injury.

I don’t know about you, but $150,000 an inch isn’t bad. Also, for somebody to pay me not to do ballet, I’m all for it. However, the bigger issue here is company liability. Apparently a Starbucks employee spilled a very small amount of coffee on this lady. The lady decided to sue and got a lawyer. Her lawyer convinced a jury of her peers to award her $300,000. Now is that excessive? Let’s think about this logically.

What do you go to Starbucks for? Coffee. Is coffee hot? Typically, yes. Does hot stuff burn? Why, yes it does! Now is that what this lawsuit is about? Some lady going into a coffee shop and getting burned? Perhaps. However, I don’t think that’s why she won.

If you’ve ever gone into a Starbucks and gotten a hot drink, it is printed on the coffee cup and cup sleeve that the drink is very hot. Fine. But does it also say on the coffee cup and cup sleeve to beware of Starbucks employees dropping coffee on your unprotected feet? I doubt it.

As much as I hate to admit it here, I think the lady deserves some type of compensation. No reasonable person should expect to walk into an establishment expecting hot coffee to be poured onto one’s self, especially by the establishment’s employees. I personally don’t walk into Starbucks and think to myself, “Ron, you better wear some protective clothing in case something gets spilled on you today.” Just think, how quickly would Starbucks go downhill if people expected to be injured while getting coffee at a Starbucks?

What I’m getting at here is that woman walked into the Starbucks expecting to just get her coffee and go. Instead of just getting her coffee, she also got a nice 2-inch burn and permanent nerve damage to go with it. It may have been an accident on the Starbucks employee’s end, but Starbucks as a company needs to take responsible for their employee’s action. I do think that three hundred grand is a bit excessive, but if it can ease her pain and suffering of never dancing ballet again, so be it.

Now if this lady spilled coffee on herself, then I don’t think she deserved to get a penny. There comes a time when people need to take responsibility for their stupid mistakes. If I break my foot from hitting a curb too hard before I get onto the sidewalk, it’s my fault. I won’t blame the company that poured the concrete or the person who designed the sidewalk. That’s just ludicrous!

However, sometimes things just simply aren’t our fault and we must seek action. The people that must take responsible must take responsibility, even if that responsibility needs to be shoved down their throats. I’m glad the lady won because she was faced with the wrath of a huge corporation that was possibly denying responsibility. I don’t think this lawsuit sets any precedence; the lawsuit just reaffirmed that a business is responsible for its employees’ actions and the safety of its customers.

That’s my 500 Words.

Web Developer and Programmer
Writer and software engineer Ronald Huereca has been a developer at notable agencies like iThemes and 10up. His varied background has him working with WordPress since 2006, eventually creating his own plugin which, of course, lead to more. He spends quite a bit of his time volunteering with the WordPress project as a core and polyglot contributor. With all of his passions, writing has been the way Ronald expresses himself best. He has written both technical books as well as fiction. Some of his works include Project Mayhem, Mindefusement, and WordPress and Ajax. “You can only delay the inevitable” is his favorite quote. Ronald enjoys reading Stephen King and John Grisham. When he’s not writing, Ronald dreams of building websites filled with cats yawning, disclaimers his strong opinions, sings karaoke, and advocates for empathy surrounding mental health.

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