Sunday, November 26, 2006

Hot Chocolate = Cold Cash?

There are times when I wonder if the human race is doomed. Here's another example.

According to, an Indianapolis couple is suing Starbucks for serving their young daughter hot chocolate that caused serious burns after it was accidentally spilled on her while she was in a car seat. According to the mother (whose name I won't give out to avoid giving them any type of advertising for their action), the skin on the daughter's leg "was falling off of her."

Okay, I'm no doctor, but that raised a HUGE red flag with me. Since when does hot chocolate, or any hot liquid this side of, oh, molten lava, cause skin to fall off someone's body? I did a little digging on a website from the U. S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health and found this information on the various degrees of burns.

First degree burns cause pain, redness, and swelling.

Okay, so we know it's not a first degree burn. What about second degree?

Second degree burns cause the symptoms of first degree burns while also causing blistering.

Hmmm... strike two. One more shot...

Third degree burns cause white or blackened skin that may be numb.

Well...close, but not quite. And for me to sign off on the possibility of a third degree burn, I'd have to see photographs of the burn area to believe hot chocolate was capable of being that hot.

Personally, I think the suit is a combination of a mother's overstatement of the injury and a lawyer's coaxing saying, "We can win this one! At the very least, we can get you a nice settlement. Starbucks won't mind losing some money to make this go away and make you whole."

Or make you A hole, if you know what I mean.

By way of full disclosure, I do enjoy Starbucks coffee every now and again, and I do know they tend to serve their drinks on the hot side. Having said that, the mother bears some responsibility for putting her daughter in a position where the hot chocolate could be spilled. If the hot chocolate was that hot (and the heat should have been felt by the mother if she handed the drink to her daughter just by touching the cup), then the mother's actions created the environment where the burn could happen. In cases like that, the company should only bear minimal responsibility for the situation. The rest goes squarely on the mother.

But knowing who's manning juries these days, I wouldn't be surprised if the family gets enough money to buy a Starbucks outright. Until then, let me leave you with a warning.

Hot chocolate is called hot chocolate for a reason: BECAUSE IT'S FLIPPING HOT!

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