Police Officer Sues Starbucks For $50K Over Hot Coffee Spill

North Carolina police officer Matthew Kohr is suing Starbucks after he spilled hot coffee on himself in 2012.
Posted at 11:22 AM, May 05, 2015

A North Carolina police officer is suing Starbucks after he says his paper coffee cup collapsed and spilled the hot drink all over him. 

This happened in 2012. Matthew Kohr claims the spilled coffee resulted in severe burns and part of his intestine had be removed after the stress of the burn activated his Crohn's disease. (Video via WTVD)

Kohr is seeking $50,000 for medical costs and damages. His wife, Melanie, is also listed as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, saying she lost "a source of emotional support ... and her intimate partner."

WRAL reports Starbucks' attorney claims the warranty for spilling a hot drink shouldn't apply in this case because Kohr received the coffee for free. 

While Starbucks wouldn't comment directly on the lawsuit, a representative did tell WTVD: "At Starbucks, the safety of our customers and partners (employees) is our top priority, and we take our obligation to provide safe products very seriously."

Despite posted warnings about hot liquid on its paper cups and lids, Starbucks has been sued by many customers over the years making similar claims.

And the most well-known case of this nature dates back to 1994 when a jury initially awarded a McDonald's customer more than $2.7 million in punitive damages after she spilled hot coffee on herself while trying to remove the cup's lid. The amount was later reduced to about $500,000.

Still, The New York Times reports around 80 people each year are hospitalized at the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center in New York after being burned by hot coffee or tea. The majority are under the age of 6. 

As for Kohr's lawsuit, a jury is currently being selected, and testimony is expected to begin later this week.