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Too Much Ice? Frivolous Lawsuits Against Starbucks

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.

Starbucks has faced a number of seemingly frivolous lawsuits about its drinks.

Starbucks has faced a number of seemingly frivolous lawsuits about its drinks.

The Ice Suit (and Other Hilarious Starbucks Lawsuits)

Ever thought about suing Starbucks? You're not alone. Starbucks has been the victim of many wild lawsuits.

A California judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed that Starbucks was shorting him on the total drinkable volume of his drinks. Effectively, the plaintiff's complaint was that Starbucks deliberately misrepresented the sizes of their drinks by filling them with ice, a complaint that the judge resoundingly dismissed in a scathing reply to the plaintiff.

According to the Washington Post, the California judge who was hearing the case said that “When a reasonable consumer walks into a Starbucks and orders a Grande iced tea, that consumer knows the size of the cup that drink will be served in and that a portion of the drink will consist of ice."

“If children have figured out that including ice in a cold beverage decreases the amount of liquid they will receive, the Court has no difficulty concluding that a reasonable consumer would not be deceived into thinking that when they order an iced tea, that the drink they receive will receive include both ice and tea and that for a given size cup, some portion of the drink will be ice rather than whatever liquid beverage the consumer ordered,” New York Daily News reported the judge as saying.

What Was the Point of This Lawsuit?

Why did this lawsuit have to happen? Are there people in North American society who actually didn't realize that adding ice to a beverage shorted you on the amount of actual drinkable liquid? It's called displacement, and kids learn that when you put anything in water (except, of course, an oily substance), the water goes around the thing and the water level appears to increase, although it doesn't actually do so.

A similar lawsuit occurred in Chicago, according to New York Daily News; this one claimed that Starbucks baristas are instructed to under-fill drinks to make more money. There was yet another Starbucks lawsuit where the company was accused of shorting customers a quarter of the amount of milk for lattes in order to save money on milk.

What is going on?

Are people so desperate to stick it to big business that they will try just about anything once?

Or is it that people are so bored with their daily lives that they think a lawsuit over ice seems like a good idea?

If You Don't Want Ice, Tell Your Barista!

Like most people, I am too busy on a daily basis to even think about worrying about something as trivial as the amount of ice in my drink. Also, I'm an adult. If I am old enough to file a lawsuit, I am surely old enough to tell the person preparing my drink that I'd rather not have ice, or I'd rather have a little bit of ice.

Many places even have their staff ask if the drink should be served with ice. Whether it's Starbucks or the local movie theater, I've heard the request from both sides of the counter: The barista asks if the customer wants ice, or the customer tells the barista they don't want ice. It's a novel concept called the power of choice, along with the power of taking responsibility for your ability to speak up.

Starbucks: Apparently, size does matter.

Starbucks: Apparently, size does matter.

Let's Talk Responsibility

"Well, you didn't ask if I wanted ice," is the sort of response I would expect from very small children, not grown men and women, and that appears to be what's at the heart of the Starbucks lawsuit that got tossed.

Starbucks makes no bones about the sizes of its cups. If you want to know exactly how big each cup size is, they'll tell you—and the information is readily available online, anyhow. If you go into any restaurant and think that an 8-ounce glass is going to give you a full 8 ounces of whatever beverage you ordered, that's silly. There's always some shortage at the top, for instance, so the wait staff doesn't spill your beverage, and as stated previously, the addition of ice is going to make a significant difference to how much actual fluid you get.

Is an Attitude of Entitlement to Blame?

One complaint that seems to regularly come up about the generation of youth that is currently coming up through school is that there seems to be an attitude of entitlement and a general lack of responsibility being taken. These lawsuits are only further evidence of that attitude that seems prevalent today.

When did we stop taking responsibility for our actions? Why are there people who insist that it's everyone else's fault that things occur, even to the point of wanting to strike out legally against someone for even the most trivial things?

We need to remind people to take responsibility for their misperceptions and their misunderstandings rather than blaming and pointing fingers. There's absolutely nothing wrong with saying that you misunderstood something, or that you don't want ice with your drinks.

The Right Verdict

The judge in this particular Starbucks case was right in telling the plaintiff that even a child understands that if you put ice in a drink, you lose a quantity of drinkable liquid.

Perhaps people who decide that lawsuits need to occur for frivolous reasons should themselves be charged. However, there's no legal charge for stupidity.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.