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California Court Puts Case Against Starbucks on Ice

Coffee-1018062_960_720By Jeremy M. Creelan

On August 19, U.S. District Judge Percy Andersen of the Central District of California dismissed a putative class action brought by Alexander Forouzesh on behalf of Starbucks customers who have purchased cold drinks there.  Plaintiff alleged that Starbucks indicated on its website that customers would receive a certain number of ounces of “beverage” in their cold drinks, but in practice Starbucks employees were trained to fill each cup with liquid up to a visible “fill line” and then fill the rest of the cup with ice, leading to the liquid contained in each cup to fall short of the ounces listed on the website.  Plaintiff alleged that this constituted violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law, and False Advertising Law, and a breach of express and implied warranties, among other common law claims. On a motion to dismiss decided without oral argument, the District Court rejected Plaintiff’s claims, principally because “[I]f 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 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.”  The opinion is available hereAlexander Forouzesh v. Starbucks Corporation, case number 2:16-cv-03830 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.