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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 11:44 GMT
US woman wins Starbucks burns payout
Starbucks store in London
Starbucks didn't train staff properly, burns victim's lawyer said
A US jury has awarded a woman $3.5m (2.5m) for burns she suffered from a Starbucks coffee machine.

Dawn Samperisi, 36, of Glen Cove, New York, suffered first and second degree burns on her right hand when an espresso machine she was considering buying exploded during a demonstration.

I'm overwhelmed. I'm happy that the jury was fair

Dawn Samperisi
"She has a clawed, ugly, horrible, painful hand, and she's going to have it for the rest of her life," Ms Samperisi's lawyer said.

Starbucks' lawyer acknowledged that Ms Samperisi had been injured in an "unfortunate accident" at its Glen Cove store but said she was "just as responsible for the accident" as Starbucks was.

'Not taught properly'

Ms Samperisi's lawyer, Seth Harris, said his client had been injured on 25 February 1999 when she enquired about an espresso machine she wanted to buy as a gift for her mother.

An employee offered to show Ms Samperisi how the machine worked, but it blew apart during the demonstration, scalding Ms Samperisi's hand with hot coffee and grounds, he said.

Mr Harris said his client's burns had resulted in reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a nervous system disorder that left her unable to use the hand.

He said Starbucks had been negligent, in not teaching its employees how to use the machine.

The employee had not correctly fitted the filter that holds the grounds, he said.

Award reduced

The state Supreme Court jury, sitting in Manhattan, voted to award Ms Samperisi $4.6m but held her partly liable for the accident and reduced the amount.

"I'm overwhelmed," Ms Samperisi said. "I'm happy that the jury was fair."

Starbucks' lawyer, Ray Slattery, said he expected to pursue legal motions to reduce or set aside the award. He also said he would "probably" appeal if necessary.

See also:

08 Dec 01 | Business
Viennese in a froth over Starbucks
10 Oct 01 | Business
Starbucks stock storms Japan
04 Jul 01 | Business
Starbucks targets Viennese market
01 May 01 | Business
Compaq to equip coffee shops
17 Sep 98 | The Company File
Starbucks storms into UK
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