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Starbucks not liable for burns sustained by police officer, jury finds

05/11/2015 05:16 EDT | Updated 05/11/2016 05:59 EDT
A North Carolina police officer burned by a free cup of Starbucks coffee has lost a $50,000 US suit against the coffee giant, a jury concluded Monday.

Starbucks is not liable for the burns Matthew Kohr experienced when his coffee spilled on his lap in 2012, the Associated Press reports.

The Raleigh police officer claimed the coffee's lid popped off and the cup collapsed, which caused hot coffee to spill on his lap causing burns, blisters, emotional damage and making his Crohn's disease intensely worse.

"We are pleased with the jury's decision as we believe our partners (employees) did nothing wrong. The safety of our customers and partners will continue to be our top priority," a Starbucks spokeswoman said in an email to Triangle Business Journal.

Here are some of the photos used as evidence in the trial.

The case is reminiscent of the McDonald's hot coffee case which generated international attention in the early 1990s. 

Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants became a focal point of debate in the U.S. about what some called frivolous litigation.  

In 1992, then 79-year old Stella Liebeck suffered burns when she accidentally spilled just 0.2 litres of hot McDonalds coffee in her lap and pelvic region. She sued the restaurant chain and was subsequently awarded $2.9 million US by a jury in 1994.

Kohr addressed reporters and thanked jurors for hearing his case. 

"I really appreciate their time, doing their civic duty, and helping us with our dispute," he said. "We thank everybody for the support and we're looking forward to moving on and putting this behind us and moving forward."

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