Filing # 36175898 E-Filed 01/05/2016 04:02:16 PM
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE 17TH
JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR
BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA
CHRISTOPHER ROMANO,
CASE NO.:
Plaintiff,
v.
STARBUCKS COFFEE COMPANY a/k/a
STARBUCKS CORPORATION, a foreign
for profit corporation,
Defendant.
____________________________________/
COMPLAINT
Plaintiff Christopher Romano (“Plaintiff”) makes the allegations set forth herein against
Defendant Starbucks Coffee Company a/k/a Starbucks Corporation, a foreign for profit
corporation (“Starbucks”), and states as follows:
INTRODUCTION
1.
This is an action for negligence.
2.
Defendant owns and operates a coffee store known as Starbucks located at 1800
North Federal Highway, in Pompano Beach, Florida.
3.
On May 25, 2015, Plaintiff was an invitee who went to the coffee store and
ordered 2 coffees and 2 breakfast sandwiches at the drive-thru window.
4.
As the Starbucks employee handed the coffee to Plaintiff, the employee failed to
confirm Plaintiff’s hold of the cup and, as a result, the employee let go of the cup before it was
secured by Plaintiff, causing the entire contents of the hot coffee to fall into Plaintiff’s lap.
5.
Unbeknownst to Plaintiff, the coffee was exceedingly hot, such that it was
dangerous and unfit for human consumption. The scolding hot coffee caused Plaintiff to suffer
second degree burns on his penis, scrotum and thighs.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
6.
This Court has jurisdiction over this dispute because this Complaint seeks
damages in excess of $15,000 exclusive of attorney’s fees and interest.
7.
Venue is proper in Broward County, Florida because the incident occurred in
Broward County, Starbucks is a foreign corporation authorized to do business in the State of
Florida, and Starbucks does business in this County.
PARTIES
8.
Plaintiff is a resident of Broward County, Florida, a citizen of the State of Florida,
is over the age of eighteen (18) years, and is otherwise sui juris.
9.
Defendant Starbucks was, at all times material hereto, a duly authorized
Washington corporation, conducting business in Broward County, Florida.
GENERAL ALLEGATIONS
10.
On May 25, 2015, at approximately 7:30 a.m., Plaintiff traveled in his motor
vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee, to the Starbucks located at 1800 North Federal Highway at
approximately 7:30 a.m.
11.
Plaintiff entered the drive-through lane, and ordered 2 large cups of coffee
(known as the “Venti” size), with milk and sugar, and 2 breakfast sandwiches.
12.
Upon arriving at the drive-thru window, the Starbucks’ employee accepted
Plaintiff’s payment, handed Plaintiff the 2 breakfast sandwiches, closed the window and left.
13.
A short while later, the employee returned, and asked Plaintiff why he was still
there. Plaintiff explained that he was waiting for his coffee. The employee left again and returned
with two cups of coffee.
14.
The Starbucks’ employee handed Plaintiff the first of the two coffees. He reached
his hand towards Plaintiff’s car and confirmed that Plaintiff had securely gripped the coffee
before letting it go. Plaintiff then placed the coffee in the cup holder in his vehicle.
15.
The Starbucks’ employee then handed Plaintiff the second of the two cups of
coffee. In so doing, the employee let go of the coffee cup before confirming that Plaintiff had
secured his hold on the cup. As a result, the employee released the coffee cup before it was
secured in Plaintiff’s hand, which caused the entirety of the coffee spilled onto Plaintiff’s lap.
16.
The coffee was scolding hot, and caused second degree burns to Plaintiff’s penis,
scrotum, and thighs.
17.
The scolding coffee caused Plaintiff to suffer extreme, indescribable pain.
Plaintiff’s first reaction was to immediately exit his car, and to just as quickly get back in the car
and drive home.
18.
Upon arriving at home, Plaintiff realized that the skin was peeling away from his
penis, scrotum and thighs. Plaintiff’s girlfriend drove Plaintiff directly to emergency room at
Broward Health North Hospital.
19.
The treating physician in the North Broward emergency room determined that Mr.
Romano had suffered severe second degree burns and exhibited pain that registered 10 of 10 on
the pain scale. The physician consulted with a doctor at the Jackson Memorial Hospital Burn
Center (“JMH Burn Center” or the “Burn Center”), and determined the appropriate course of
action was to transfer Mr. Romano to the JMH Burn Center.
20.
Mr. Romano was immediately transferred via ambulance to the JMH Burn Center.
21.
At the Burn Center, it was determined that Mr. Romano suffered second degree
burns to his penis, shaft and thighs.
22.
Mr. Romano underwent follow-up care with a plastic surgeon, which included
debridement of his scrotum and left thigh with scissors and forceps.
COUNT I - NEGLIGENCE
23.
Plaintiff realleges the allegations set forth above in paragraphs one (1) through
twenty-two (22) as if fully set forth herein.
24.
Starbucks owed the Plaintiff, a business invitee, a duty to provide coffee intended
for handling and consumption by its business invitee customers in a reasonably safe condition.
25.
Starbucks breached its duty to Plaintiff by inter alia, (a) failing to properly
transfer the cup to Plaintiff, (b) by serving coffee heated to a temperature that was unfit for
human consumption and dangerous, and (c) failing to warn Plaintiff of such dangers.
26.
Starbucks breached its duty to Plaintiff by, inter alia, failing to take the following
actions:
a. Failing to train its staff as to how to transfer cups of scolding hot coffee at the drivethru window;
b. Failing to have an appropriate system in place to transfer cups of scolding hot coffee
at the drive-thru window;
c. Failing to properly transfer the coffee to Plaintiff;
d. Failing to provide coffee at a reasonable temperature so as to not burn its business
invitee patrons;
e. Failing to warn, or adequately warn, Plaintiff that the coffee it served was heated to a
temperature that was dangerous and would caused second degree burns;
f. Providing coffee to Plaintiff that was heated to a temperature that made it unsafe for
handling and/or consumption by humans; and
g. In other ways that may be revealed during the discovery process in this case.
27.
As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Starbucks’ negligence, the cup of
coffee spilled onto the lap of Plaintiff, causing him to suffer second degree burns to his penis,
scrotum and thigh.
28.
As a direct, foreseeable, and proximate cause of Defendant Starbucks’ breach of
its duties and negligence, Plaintiff suffered damages to which he is entitled, but not necessarily
limited to severe and permanent bodily injury and resulting pain and suffering, disability,
disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of
hospitalization, medical and nursing care and treatment, and loss of earnings.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Christopher Romano demands judgment for all damages
available for Negligence against Defendant Starbucks, together with statutory interest, and any
other relief this Court deems proper.
REQUEST FOR JURY TRIAL
Plaintiff hereby requests a trial by jury of all issues so triable as a matter of right.
Dated: January 5, 2015.
Respectfully submitted,
WITES & KAPETAN, P.A.
Attorneys for Plaintiff
4400 North Federal Highway
Lighthouse Point, FL 33064
(954) 570-8989
(954) 428-3929 (fax)
By: /s/ Marc A. Wites
MARC A. WITES
Fla. Bar No. 24783
mwites@wklawyers.com
CHAD J. ROBINSON
Fla. Bar No. 56922
crobinson@wklawyers.com
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