2nd Circuit: Starbucks not liable in “double-cup” hot-tea suit

“A Manhattan woman has failed to persuade a U.S. appeals court that Starbucks Corp should be held liable for severe burns she suffered after spilling tea served in a double cup.” [NY Daily News]


  • Tears are flowing in Trial Lawyer Inc from this tragic decision.

  • The lead is very misleading. The holding of the Second Circuit is two-fold. Most importantly, the court held that there was no negligence as a matter of law: “In any event, we reject Moltner’s theory of negligence as infirm as a matter of law under Fung-Yee Ng v. Barnes & Noble, Inc., 764 N.Y.S.2d 183, 183-84 (1st Dep’t 2003) (“‘Double cupping’ is a method well known in the industry as a way of preventing a cup of hot tea from burning one’s hand.”).”

    Also, the Second Circuit upheld the trial court’s granting of summary judgment on Daubert grounds. The trial court determined that Plaintiff’s three expert witnesses were not qualified adn excluded their testimony, and that without experts Plaintiff could not prove her case. The Second Circuit stated that such exclusion was not an abuse fo discretion.

    There was another aspect of this case on appeal as to when the 30 day clock starts for removal to federal court from state court. The Second Circuit says it starts when the Defendant is served with the explicit amount of damages claimed.



  • Surely this case will be taken to the Supreme Court. If it is allowed to stand, it will be the end of law as we know it. People will stab themselves without cutlers being held liable, People will grow fat from overeating without the food industry being dunned for billions and, worst of all, some lawyers might have to give up the law and take jobs which actually produce something besides moving money from one pocket to another.

    Some might think that people might have to take responsibility for their own stupidity, but let’s not head off into fantasy.