Local News

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

Posted May 7, 2015 2:24 p.m. EDT
Updated May 8, 2015 11:59 a.m. EDT

— 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.