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Doctor in Starbucks lawsuit says man 'deteriorated' after coffee spill

Posted May 7, 2015
Updated May 8, 2015

— The wife of a Raleigh police officer who said he suffered third-degree burns and blisters after a hot cup of Starbucks coffee spilled in his lap cried Thursday as she testified about the negative impact the mishap had on her marriage.

Matthew Kohr is suing Starbucks for compensation totaling $750,000 after he said a faulty cup handed to him at the Peace Street store folded in on itself, spilling the contents across his lap.

Kohr said the trauma of the burn set off his Crohn’s disease, and he needed surgery to remove a portion of his intestine. He spent months on sick leave and struggled to return to work at his job as a lieutenant with the special operations division.

"There was this black cloud hanging over him, and he would try so hard to get out of that and go back to work," Melanie Kohr told the jury. "It was the most challenging year of my whole life."

Matthew Kohr’s physician, Dr. Charles Barish, also took the stand Thursday to describe how Kohr suffered a flare-up of his Crohn’s disease that wouldn’t respond to high doses of steroids.

“Nothing was making him better,” Barish said. “At that point, he was deteriorating. He wasn’t eating. He was losing weight. He was malnourished and ended up in the hospital.”

Defense attorneys, however, argued that Kohr was battling with illnesses and anxiety prior to the incident.

The jury is expected to begin deliberation in the civil suit on Friday.

Per Starbucks' policy, Kohr received 50 cups of free coffee over two months for being in uniform. In order for Kohr to accept it under department guidelines, he placed the equivalent amount of the cost of the coffee in the tip jar on every occasion.


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  • Jessica Atkinson May 9, 2015
    user avatar

    This trial is a waste of tax payers money. The only person that wins in this case is the Dr that was paid to testify. If the victim is a police officer and he reacts this way to spilt coffee then there are bigger problems here than a cup of joe. Here's a tip: Coffee is hot! I'm sure every burn victim wishes they could receive 3/4 of a million dollars for their troubles and I can assure you that there are victims of third degree burns that suffer much greater traumas. If this police officer receives any financial compensation he should donate it to the burn unit at the local hospital.

  • Faith Tripp Roberts May 9, 2015
    user avatar

    This is the downfall of our country and legal system, such a joke it is. Greed and no self accountability, 'Mc Donalds made me fat, ' theory, give me a break. If this lawsuit goes through it sets a stage for all the mo rons to follow.

  • Lightfoot Williams May 8, 2015
    user avatar

    Frivolous lawsuit. He spilled the coffee on himself. He's had issues from his disease for over a decade. And he started lawyering up right after the spill, BEFORE the issues of the disease.

  • Holly Atkins May 8, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Any self-respect he had for himself due to greed?

    I hope on cross examination the doctor verifies he should NOT have been drinking the coffee, external burns would NOT cause damage to the intestines and he also should have a psyche evaluation done because he's NUTS!

  • John Smith May 8, 2015
    user avatar

    Sounds like he lost something else when he spilled the coffee. You can fill in the blank.

  • Mark Adcox May 8, 2015
    user avatar

    This story gives me emotional stress and high anxiety - Can I sue?

  • Uragoner Too May 8, 2015
    user avatar

    Sounds like the officer wants Starbucks to pay for his Chron's disease bills. My mother-in- law has had this condition for over a decade. The disease attacks the intestines weakening the walls and requiring surgery to remove damaged section. My mother-in-law has had 3 or 4 such surgeries and now has a colostomy bag. A spilled cup of coffee wouldn't have affected that. The fact that someone with a scalding burn would take 2.5 hours to get to the emergency room makes no sense at all. The pain would force immediate attention. No time to switch vehicles or take pictures. I feel sorry for the people this guy may have arrested.

  • Robert Fotch Jr May 8, 2015
    user avatar

    What a joke! This clown can't even handle a cup of coffee yet he's carrying a gun saying he'll protect and serve.

  • Patricia Kiernan May 8, 2015
    user avatar

    Best thing about this, is that he was getting coffee.... one of the worse things for Crohn's Disease. He obviously doesn't follow physician directions and Crohn's acceptable diet, so of course he had a flare up!

  • Elizabeth Anne Wells May 7, 2015
    user avatar

    This case is just sad...that that he and his wife filed a lawsuit, sad that an "ambulance chaser" took the case, sad that Judge Stephens didn't dismiss it; but, the saddest part of it all is that if there is a ruling in his favor, his fellow officers will feel the brunt of it all when there is no more free coffee.

    What's next??? I guess someone will file a lawsuit next against Krispy Kreme, claiming that free doughnuts was the cause of their obesity.