SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A California family has filed a lawsuit against Starbucks after they claim their toddler daughter drank a beverage that had been contaminated by a barista’s blood.
Amanda and Louis Vice, of Redlands, filed suit regarding a Feb. 6, 2016, visit to a Starbucks coffee shop in San Bernardino, according to a news release from the Frish Law Group in Los Angeles. The couple, their then-2-year-old daughter and Louis Vice's mother visited the location and ordered drinks that they took home with them.
After drinking the beverages, they noticed a red smear on one of the signature Starbucks cups, as well as a strong metallic odor, the news release said. There was also a red stain on another of the cups, from which two of them, including the little girl, had been drinking.
Amanda Vice told KTLA in Los Angeles that she didn't see anything at first.
"Once we drank it, then we could see on the inside of the rim that there was blood," Vice told the news station, adding that her daughter had been licking the lid and eating whipped cream from the inside of the cup.
After determining that no one in the family was bleeding, the Vices called Starbucks, at which point they “confirmed that there was, in fact, an employee who was bleeding, but had since been removed from the sales floor,” the law firm’s news release stated.
"My wife and my baby just drank someone's blood," Louis Vice told KTLA. "It was bad."
The Vices were offered free drinks for a week, but were "extremely concerned" that they, their daughter or Louis Vice's mother could become sick if the employee had any diseases communicable by blood, such as HIV, the couple's lawyer, Stan Pekler, said in the news release. The manager initially agreed, but never followed through with having the employee get a blood test to reassure the family of their safety.
"The family was then left to schedule their own blood tests, causing extreme distress for the parents, as they had to watch their daughter be poked with a needle and agonizingly wait for the results," Pekler said.
Though the initial results were all negative, the family had to be retested again six months later to ensure that no HIV antibodies popped up after the round of tests.
“This caused the family stress, nervousness, fright, anguish, grief, anxiety, worry and shock for several months while awaiting the second round of test results,” Pekler’s statement read.
Pekler and the family began negotiating with Starbucks for a proper resolution to the situation, and the company offered each family member $1,000 for their trouble, the statement said.
"This does not begin to compensate the family for suffered injuries and damages for which Starbucks is liable," the news release stated. "Immediately upon learning they had consumed beverages that contained human blood, the family experienced suffering, as well as feelings of anguish, fright, horror, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, shock, humiliation, and shame. They endured additional distress because Starbucks seemed to not care about their well-being and refused to direct the employee to undergo a blood test to ensure the family's safety."
"We felt sick to our stomachs," Amanda Vice told KTLA. "We shouldn't have to worry about going to get something to drink and there being blood in our drink where we could get sick."
The lawsuit seeks damages on claims of failure to warn the family, negligence, breach of express and implied warranty, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery, assault, negligent hiring and negligent training and supervision, Pekler said.
A Starbucks representative told KTLA that the company is aware of the lawsuit and is prepared to present its own case in court.
Cox Media Group