Houston woman sues Starbucks, claiming she was burned by coffee

Lawsuit claims negligence on barista and Starbucks

By Scylla Lopez - Social Media Producer, Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - A Houston attorney is suing Starbucks and a barista, claiming she was severely burned on multiple parts of her body by hot coffee.

According to the lawsuit, Katherine Mize was buying coffee for herself and colleagues at the Starbucks at 445 North Loop West on July 13, 2014.

Mize went to the drive-thru window in her vehicle to get her order. The barista, identified in the lawsuit as Brie, handed Mize a 20-ounce cup of coffee. Mize alleges that Brie squeezed the cup when she handed it to her, causing the top to come off.

“It went all down the front of me and on the seat behind me and started burning me immediately. I got out of the car and then just started hollering,” Mize told Channel 2 Tuesday.

The lawsuit alleges that nobody helped Mize or filed an incident report.

Mize was taken to the hospital.

"She was forced to remain on her hands and knees in the back of the truck in order to prevent contact with the seared skin and open wounds," the lawsuit says.

Mize accuses Brie of negligence for failure to secure the top of the cup, failure to safely handle the hot beverage, failure to pay attention and failure to render aid.

“My skin was falling off me in sheets,” Mize said.

Mize is also suing Starbucks for negligence, accusing the company of heating and serving the coffee at extreme temperatures and not properly training its employees.

According to the lawsuit, Brie was a new employee who had started working at Starbucks in the week before the incident.

The lawsuit alleges that Starbucks' coffee cups and the coffee are "unreasonably dangerous products that predictably caused damages to the plaintiff."

“It was a really serious injury. Like everyone else I kinda laughed at the coffee stories until I heard more about them and realized women got really injured. Then I realized it’s not just, ‘Oh well, I spilled coffee.’ It burned through my skin, there was no skin left,” she said.

Mize is seeking $200,000 to $1 million for past and future physical pain, mental anguish, physical impairment, medical expenses, loss of earning capacity and physical disfigurement.

Starbucks issued a statement to KPRC 2 that read: "The health and safety of our customers and partners (employees) is always our top priority. We are evaluating the customer’s claims and determining the appropriate next steps.”

Mize says she wants to make sure no one else gets hurt.

“I want people to be able to get whatever they want from Starbucks and never run the risk of injury,” she said.

In 1994, a woman in New Mexico was awarded $2.9 million after a McDonald's coffee spilled on her for similar lid-related issues. The case was eventually settled out of court for an unknown amount after a jury reduced the verdict to $640,000.

What do you think of this lawsuit? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Have a tip for reporter Jace Larson? Email or text him at jlarson@kprc.com or 832-493-3951.

2016 Click2Houston/KPRC2