When Deanna Salas-Solano went through a Denver Starbucks drive-through window to purchase a "venti"-size hot tea, she had no idea that tea would change her life for the much, much worse. The Washington Post reports that the Colorado woman filed a lawsuit against the chain for an improperly served cup of hot tea, which spilled and severely burned both her and her dog, Alexander. According to a complaint filed on Monday in the US District Court for the District of Colorado, Salas-Solano is seeking over $75,000 in damages.
Salas-Solano did not state that she wanted her tea "extra hot," but it was served "unreasonably hot" anyway—with an insecure lid, in a single cup, without a hot-cup sleeve, according to the lawsuit.
"Once Plaintiff received the cup of tea into her hands, the hot temperature of the cup began to burn her hands," reads the lawsuit. "Hot tea began to spill out of the cup through the unsecured lid and onto Plaintiff's body. The tea caused Plaintiff's clothing to melt. The tea caused severe burns to Plaintiff. Plaintiff immediately experienced intense pain including on her stomach, legs, and lap."
Salas-Solano's anguish led Alexander to jump onto her lap, at which point he was burned by the tea. Though he was taken to an emergency veterinarian, he died shortly after from his injuries, according to the lawsuit. Salas-Solano was treated for her severe burns at the hospital and had to get skin-graft surgery for "2% total body surface area second-degree burn injury to the abdomen and bilateral thighs," the lawsuit reads; the incident left her with permanent scarring, loss of feeling, and emotional distress.
"At all relevant times, Defendant knew or should have known, using reasonable care, that providing hot tea without a hot-cup sleeve, without securing the lid onto the cup, and/or utilizing unreasonably hot temperatures for the water used to make the tea, would create an unreasonable risk of injury to patrons ordering tea at the drive-thru at the Premises,” the lawsuit states.
Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges said that the global coffee chain denies Salas-Solano's allegations based on video evidence. “I think it goes without saying we’re certainly sympathetic to Ms. Salas-Solano and the injuries she sustained, and my heart goes out to her for the loss of her dog,” Borges told The Washington Post. “Having said that, we have video evidence that clearly contradicts the claims by her and actually believe they’re without merit. We don’t have any reason to believe that our partner [employee] was at fault in this.”