Sugar in Coffee Lawsuit

Don’t think we need tort reform?

Check out this case from Pennsylvania.  A woman is suing Dunkin Donuts for putting sugar in her coffee when she asked for artificial sweetener.  The lady went into a diabetic shock as a result (allegedly).

1) If sugar is such a big issue for you, then don’t have someone else put in the sweetener.

2) If you do have someone else put in the sweetener for you, then don’t be surprised when a busy place accidentally messes up.

2 comments

  1. You are obviously blissfully unaware that some businesses (e.g., McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts) now require you to have the business add cream and sweeteners to your coffee before you receive it (I assume as part of a cost-containment strategy, since people can’t then take extra sweetener home). Given that, yes, diabetic shock happens, the suit is utterly appropriate (unless you’d prefer government regulations banning this sort of business behavior?). The fault lies with the *business* not understanding the risks of forcing customers to have the business prepare the coffee.

    How is it that a libertarian-leaning blog doesn’t understand that, for customers to be able to hold businesses accountable to the explicit and implicit contracts, there have to be ways for suits to go forward? You should be *supporting* this – again, unless you’re secretly in favor of more regulation for even these small trivialities.

    Comment by twicker on June 4, 2011 at 12:12 am

  2. Twicker,

    As someone who goes to Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks for coffee, they don’t require that customers add their own sweetener, cream, etc. I have no idea about McDonald’s. I have little doubt that this will be the policy of businesses though if they are fearful of frivolous lawsuits, even if it does hurt the quality of their product.

    Yes, I can’t disagree, there is such thing as diabetic shock.

    The question is whether, from the facts we know, is this case frivolous in nature? The answer is yes. A customer who asks a busy business to prepare coffee for him knowing that a simple mistake, such as adding sugar instead of artificial sweetener will cause a serious health risk to himself, should not recover damages.

    There is no breach of any duty on the part of the business. A reasonable business shouldn’t expect that adding a sugar is going to cause diabetic shock. Further, there is an assumption of risk.

    You assume that regulation would take the place of these frivolous lawsuits. I don’t make such an assumption, although we do live in a nanny state. From a libertarian perspective, courts should provide a remedy for those who have been wronged (i.e. victims of torts), not to those who haven’t been.

    Comment by Daren Bakst on June 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

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