Yesterday I ran a parody, wherein Dunkin’ Donuts was sued for not putting enough jelly in its jelly donuts. I didn’t do it just for the hell of it. There is (usually) a method to my madness.
Specifically, Dunkin’ was “sued” because their jelly doughnuts were “defective and deficient due to their skimpy, scanty, paltry, pitiful, meager and otherwise insufficient quantities of jelly within each said doughnut unit.”
My posting was spurred on, as noted in the post, by a suit out in Chicago where Starbucks was sued for putting too much ice in an iced coffee. My point was to mock that idiotic suit.
Now why would a guy that does personal injury law mock the work of another, who purports to represent consumers? Don’t lawyers on the same side of the “v” protect each other like cops and doctors do?
But regular readers know that I call ’em as I see ’em, and what I see is that bad lawsuits damage those with good lawsuits. It’s the headlines from poorly considered, outlier lawsuits that make the headlines and then go on to infect the jury pool by making people more cynical. When jury selection starts, the scales of justice are already tipped in favor of the defendants due to those “damn lawyers” and this makes it more difficult for others in the courthouse to prevail.
Let me be clear: Your bad lawsuit hurts my clients.
So why does the Starbucks suit suck the big wazoo (a legal term of art for you newbies to this site)? Well first off, ice is actually an ingredient in an iced drink. Take out the ice and you have a different drink.
“Our customers understand and expect that ice is an essential component of any ‘iced’ beverage. If a customer is not satisfied with their beverage preparation, we will gladly remake it.”
So the issue isn’t really that there’s ice in the drink because there’s supposed to be ice in the drink, but rather, how much ice is in there. In other words, it’s an issue of judgment as to how much the customer will like. Different strokes for different folks and all that.
Which leads us to the second issue: Americans are accustomed to having it like we want it when ordering food and drink:
Too much ice? Less ice, please.
Don’t like potatoes with the chicken? Can I substitute rice?
Hold the mayo on that sandwich please.
I’d like the dressing on the side, please.
I’d like extra dressing, please.
Restaurant customers are accustomed to ordering things that are vegan, vegetarian, nut-free, gluten-free, egg-free, lactose-free, shellfish-free, hold the onions, or I’d like my sushi cooked well done.
Here’s the thing about Starbucks: It was born and raised in a capitalist society. They offer a premium product and therefore it must cater to the whims of its clientele. This is not a discount chain cutting staff to the bone to save a few bucks.
If Starbucks drops the ball on customer service — and that means giving people what they want at the counter — then they have lost a customer. Less ice isn’t exactly a tall order, nor even a Grande or Venti one. Can anyone imagine the diner that Jack Nicholson visited in Five Easy Pieces, where he tried to get a side order of toast actually surviving as a business?
Since solving this “problem” was not difficult — it would be difficult to find an easier problem to solve since it isn’t actually a problem — the suit is destined for the trash heap of history. Ice is part of the drink, and if there is too much for your liking they will make it the way you like.
So here is my message to my brethren of the bar (in this case, Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge in Chicago) who bring crappy suits and stir headline writers to spew about lawyers which in turn piss of the populace about lawyers and lawsuits: Your suit is manna from heaven for tort “reformers” and insurance companies. They get to “promote” your outlier lawsuit and portray it as typical, and thereby poison the jury pool.
Stop hurting the people I represent.
Addendum, see also: Starbucks Iced Coffee Lawsuit – A Rebuttal