Local News

Raleigh officer, wife asking for $50K in hot coffee case

Posted May 4, 2015 11:19 a.m. EDT
Updated May 4, 2015 4:56 p.m. EDT

— Attorneys for a Raleigh police officer began making the case Monday that he should be compensated the burns, blisters and emotional damage he suffered when a hot cup of coffee spilled on his lap in January 2012.

In the morning, a judge heard motions from representatives of Matthew Kohr, a lieutenant with Raleigh police's special operations division, and Starbucks.

Kohr and his wife are suing the coffee giant, claiming that a lid popped off the cup of coffee he ordered at the Starbucks on Peace Street and the cup folded in on itself. They are seeking $50,000, including damages, attorney fees and medical costs.

In the lawsuit, Kohr said he poured cold water on the burn, but the pain intensified. He claimed the injuries aggravated his Crohn's disease and resulted in surgery to remove a portion of his intestine.

The incident, according to the lawsuit, also caused Kohr's wife, Melanie, a loss of a "source of emotional support, her social companion and her intimate partner."

The Starbucks barista who prepared the drink and the company that made the cup were initially named in the suit but have since been dropped.

Before the case could go forward, the cost of the cup of coffee came into question. Since Kohr didn't pay, Starbucks attorneys argued that it wasn't subject to the same warranty that a purchase would imply.

They also pointed out that Starbucks serves about four billion cups a year made by International Paper and that there have been only 59 similar incidents.

Jury selection began Monday afternoon, and testimony in the case is expected to begin later this week.