Cool Down! Judge Dismisses Starbucks Ice Suit

Updated on September 22, 2016
Christina St-Jean profile image

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

Another Frivolous Lawsuit Bites the Dust

Take this from the "Are You Serious?" files, folks. A California judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a man who claims that Starbucks was shorting him on the total drinkable volume of his drinks. Effectively, the plaintiff's complaint was that Starbucks deliberately misrepresents 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 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.

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 actually 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.

There's a similar lawsuit going on in Chicago, according to New York Daily News; this one claims that Starbucks baristas are instructed to under-fill drinks to make more money, and there's another Starbucks lawsuit where the company is accused of shorting customers a quarter the amount of milk for lattes in order to save money on milk.

What the heck 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?

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, and the power of taking responsibility for your ability to speak up.

If You Don't Want Something, SPEAK UP!


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 just 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 in to 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 don'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.

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 come to 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 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.

Starbucks - Size Apparently Does Matter


The Case Against Starbucks

Questions & Answers


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