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Raleigh police officer suing Starbucks says spilled coffee worth $10M

Posted May 6, 2015

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— A Raleigh police officer who is suing Starbucks after he spilled hot coffee into his lap spent eight hours on the witness stand Wednesday, answering questions about the free coffee he said was served to him in a faulty cup.

Matthew Kohr, a lieutenant with the special operations division, said when he was handed the cup at the Starbucks on Peace Street in January 2012, the lid popped off and the cup folded in on itself. He said he suffered third-degree burns and blisters, spent months on sick leave and struggled to return to his job.

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 and his wife are seeking compensation that could total $750,000.

“I had a lot of anxiety, a lot of unsteadiness and nervousness,” Kohr said. “I wasn’t comfortable in the car. You know, as a supervisor, in my experience as a police supervisor, you have to lead people and be confident. And I didn’t feel those same feelings I had in the past.”

The defense attorney argued that Kohr was suffering with some illnesses prior to the incident.

Kohr told the jury he deserves much more that the $750,000 that is being allowed in the civil suit.

“We said, ‘Well, what’s our life worth? What’s a year and a half or two years of your life worth?’” Kohr said. “I thought it was worth $10 million.”

53 Comments

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  • Steve Geurds May 12, 2015
    user avatar

    The lid-cup design is awful. My car smelled like a caramel macchiato for about two weeks after the lid came off my drink. Luckily it didn't hit me. I've complained to starbucks on numerous occasions that the design is flawed.

  • Rob Douglas May 7, 2015
    user avatar

    Go to his facebook page and look at the photos of the 3rd degree burns on his legs.

  • Cara Blalock May 7, 2015
    user avatar

    Mike the only thing I can agree on is that I misunderstood the time line. I was under the impression, especially since watching the trial live-stream, that they were claiming ongoing/current emotional distress, so that would explain why they appear to be okay in their sharing of social media. I honestly did not know they had emotionally healed from this so for that I apologize. Although we do have opposing views from a military perspective, I thank you for the clarification here.

  • Chris Redshaw May 7, 2015
    user avatar

    They are not suing for $10M. He's discussing what he said when the attorney's asked how much his life was worth, which is a typically question they ask. The $750K is the value of the lawsuit, what they could be awarded "up to". That wasn't a number they came up with. When determining punitive damages, lawyers come up with those numbers. All they wanted was the medical bills covered. If you haven't seen the photos he sustained (because the news channels won't show them as they are "too graphic", and they will only show him healed or the pics right after it happened), they are pretty readily available on Facebook on various news channel feeds. They are clearly 3rd degree burns, and not small. WRAL has been irresponsible from the beginning in reporting this case, as have all the others.

  • Todd Dumke May 7, 2015
    user avatar

    this is totally unbelievable!! this kind of lawsuit is a get rich quick scheme and he doesn't deserve anything. we totally need a loser pays law for stuff like this. you dropped the dang coffee- it's your fault! way to represent your badge and the law!!! dear starbucks- stop giving cops free coffee for clearly no good deed goes unpunished

  • Jim Buchanan May 7, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    I had a friend lose 2 fingers in his work place. He got $15,000 a finger.
    This guy wants $10million, $750,000, etc?
    What a joke!!

  • Jim Buchanan May 7, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread



    So, it all comes down to timeline. When things happened, where he was, where did he go, etc.
    It's amazing, and not saying it's the case here but, what people will do to sue big companies for money.

  • Rob Douglas May 7, 2015
    user avatar

    HE WAS NOT DRIVING IN A CAR OR SITTING IN A CAR. HOW HARD IS THAT FOR EVERYONE TO UNDERSTAND.

  • Kristin Byrne May 7, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    According to another website, the cop who was with him during the incident testified that the lid popped off and he knocked the coffee into his lap as he sat down at a table.

  • Anthony Snark May 7, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    The difference between your doctor exams and this case is that Starbucks didn't splash the coffee in him. They handed it to him and he decided that his crotch would be a better cupbolder than the ones that the car was equipped with. Contributory negligence.

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