Published September 18, 2017
A Denver woman is suing Starbucks over claims that scalding tea spilled through an unsecured cup lid, giving her second-degree burns and killing her dog.
In September 2015, Deanna Salas-Solano, 58, bought a 20-ounce ‘venti’ hot tea at a drive-thru Starbucks in Denver, KDVR reported. The lawsuit, filed in Denver District Federal Court on Friday, claims that hot tea spilled on Salas-Solano’s lap because the cup's lid wasn’t properly secured.
The hot beverage "melted" through her clothes, the lawsuit said, causing burns and severe pain to her legs and stomach.
In addition to having an unsecured lid, the tea didn't come with a hot cup sleeve and was not “double-cupped,” according to the lawsuit. Salas-Solanos alleged it was so hot that she burned her hand holding the cup.
She said her dog, Alexander, jumped onto her lap as she was screaming in pain. The dog subsequently was doused with the tea.
The dog was treated by an emergency veterinarian but “ultimately succumbed to the injuries caused by the tea, dying a short time later,” the lawsuit said.
Salas-Solano was brought to the hospital for severe burns and underwent surgery the next day. According to the suit, second-degree burns covered “2 percent total body surface area,” including on her abdomen and thighs. Her treatment eventually included skin grafts.
The lawsuit seeks claims for more than $100,000.
Starbucks responded to the allegations in a statement to KDVR:
“We have video evidence that clearly contradicts the claims made by the plaintiff and believe they are without merit,” the statement said. “We look forward to presenting our case in court. While we are sympathetic to Ms. Salas-Solano and the injuries she sustained, we don’t have any reason to believe our partner (employee) was at fault.”
A reporter for the TV station, who saw the surveillance footage, said it shows Salas-Solano on her cellphone buying the tea at the drive-thru, with the dog already in her lap. It also shows the beverage did have a hot sleeve and the lid appears to be secure, though it is not conclusive.