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Houston Attorney Sues Starbucks Over Alleged Coffee Burns

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A Houston woman is suing Starbucks over an alleged scalding-hot coffee mishap that seared her skin and left her in excruciating pain. 

Katherine Mize is also suing the barista who allegedly spilled the 20-ouncer on Mize as she was buying coffee for herself and some colleagues at the java giant's 445 North Loop West location in July 2014.  The barista, identified only as "Brie," allegedly squeezed a cup of coffee as she handed it to Mize, "causing it to collapse and for the top to come off. Extremely hot coffee covered [Mize], severely burning multiple parts of her body."

Mize filed the suit last week in Harris County District Court and is seeking $200,000-$1 million, claiming she suffered "physical disfigurement." The suit doesn't get into details, but her attorney, Brian Humphrey, told Texas Lawyer, "She didn't have to have skin grafts, but she had to have treatment....It resulted in scarring."

The suit alleges that Mize, who is also an attorney, was "unable to eat, sit, walk, work, or function normally for an extended period of time after the accident." To add insult to injury, the suit also alleges that neither the mysterious Brie nor any of her co-workers "event attempted to assist" Mize.

As Texas Lawyer noted, the suit is similar to a widely publicized McDonald's hot-coffee case from 1994, in which a New Mexico woman was awarded $2.9 million for damages after she suffered third-degree burns and spent eight days in the hospital. 

Similarly to the McDonald's case, the Houston suit alleges that Starbucks negligently served coffee that was "at an unreasonably dangerous temperature." 

A Starbucks spokesperson told us in an email, "The health and safety of our customers and partners (employees) is always our top priority.  We are evaluating the customer's claims and are determining the appropriate next steps."

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