Visiting a coffee shop and purchasing a hot beverage is a delight for many people. However, when the coffee cup is defective, it can lead to serious injuries. Those injured by defective or dangerous products may be able to obtain compensation for their injuries through a Florida product liability claim. In a recent case, a state appellate court was tasked with determining whether a coffee shop could be held liable for a plaintiff’s injuries. The case involved a plaintiff who was injured after she purchased a cup of hot tea in a defective cup and accidentally spilled it onto herself. Ultimately, the court determined that the hot tea and defective cup were too remotely connected to the plaintiff’s injuries, and thus, the coffee retailer could not be held liable.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff ordered a cup of hot tea from a local coffee shop. The plaintiff picked up her cup of tea at the counter and noticed the beverage was “double-cupped,” but did not have a sleeve around the outside of the cup. After grabbing her tea, she removed the lid and tried to sit down at a nearby table when the chair pushed forward unexpectedly. She grabbed onto the table to maintain her balance, which caused the drink to spill onto her legs, and she suffered second-degree burns. After the accident, she filed a products liability suit against the coffee shop.
Under a products liability claim, a plaintiff alleges the defective product caused their injuries. The manufacturer, distributor, or retailer can be held liable if a defect in their product causes an injury when the product is being used in a foreseeable way. A product can also be defective if it fails to include a warning about its known risks. To succeed in their product liability claim, a plaintiff must show the defective product, or the lack of warning, was the ultimate cause of their injuries.
In this case, the plaintiff argued that the coffee shop provided her with a defective cup, as it did not have a sleeve, and did not warn her about the risks associated with the cup of tea. The court ultimately determined that the defects in the cup of tea were not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, and the coffee shop was not liable. Although it was foreseeable that a customer could lose their balance while seated at a table, this was not within the scope of the risk regarding the coffee shop’s decision to serve a hot beverage without a sleeve. Serving the hot tea without a cup sleeve may have set into motion the accident, but it did not increase the risk that the plaintiff would lose her balance while attempting to sit at the table. The court concluded that the accident was not a foreseeable result of the defective cup, and held that the coffee shop was not liable under a product liability theory.
Because product liability cases often are extremely dependent on the facts of the accident, potential plaintiffs should consult an experienced products liability attorney who can bring a compelling case.
Contact a Florida Products Liability Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective cup, or by any other defective product, contact the Florida products liability attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. With years of experience, our dedicated attorneys will work tirelessly on your behalf to hold the responsible parties accountable and get you the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation and discuss your matter with an attorney, contact our office at 877-448-8585 today.