When ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes discovered that dropping a crown in his bathtub displaced an equal amount of water, he ran down the street naked, shouting "Eureka!" toward the heavens. But when Alexander Forouzesh realized that the ice cubes in his cold Starbucks drinks could displace an ounce or two of coffee, he called his attorney.
Despite Forouzesh's best attempts at being outraged, on Friday, a judge in California dismissed his lawsuit against Starbucks. Forouzesh (who must have skimmed past Archimedes' name in his third-grade math book) alleged that Starbucks cheated its customers out of a couple of mouthfuls of iced coffee by telling its baristas to fill the cups to a designated line instead of filling them all the way to the rim. The extra space, he argued, was filled with ice. ICE! IN AN ICED COFFEE!
Forouzesh claimed that by adding ice, Starbucks was committing fraud. A Tall coffee would not have all 12 ounces that he was promised (nor would a Grande or a Venti contain 16 or 24 fully caffeinated ounces), a reality that irritated him so much that he could make these claims with a straight face.
Judge Percy Anderson of the US District Court for the Central District of California disagreed with Forouzesh's claims, instead siding with that ubiquitous green mermaid. Judge Anderson said that Starbucks never claimed that its beverages—iced or not—contained an exact amount of liquid. "If children have figured out that including ice in a cold beverage decreases the amount of liquid they will receive, [then] a reasonable customer would not be deceived [by the ice]," he wrote.
Although you can cross this off your list of Stupid Ice-Related Starbucks Litigation, there's still one other almost-identical case pending. In May, Illinois resident Stacy Pincus filed a class action lawsuit, alleging that—say it with us—Starbucks didn't put enough coffee into its iced coffees. Or it puts too much ice in its iced coffees. Either way, Pincus is asking for $5 million in damages.
Yes, that's ridiculous. It's also why the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) used Pincus' lawsuit in its "Faces of Lawsuit Abuse" campaign. "Lawyers are the ones who are driving these lawsuits. They're the only ones who have any prospect of making any money off this," consumer litigation attorney John Beisner said in a video posted to ILR's website. "If the company incurs costs in defending the litigation, that's going to get passed on to consumers."
Well thanks for that, Stacy. You too, Alexander.
MUNCHIES has reached out to Starbucks for comment but has not yet received a response.