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Putative class representatives filed a class action against Starbucks Corporation, alleging that it uniformly underfilled its lattes by approximately 25% pursuant to the standardized recipe. They asserted in their complaint that the etched "fill to" lines in the pitchers that the lattes were made in were too low by several ounces, and the serving cups were too small to accommodate the fluid ounces listed on the menu. They further claimed that milk foam should not be counted towards volume in the drinks. The representatives claimed that Starbucks was shortchanging its customers and in turn, saving millions of dollars in the cost of goods sold.
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granted summary judgment to Starbucks on January 5, 2008, effectively terminating the lawsuit. The Judge determined that the class was unable to prove any false statement or misleading representation by Starbucks, which was a necessary element for each of the statutory and common law claims. The Judge noted that the capacity of the latte cups was greater than the represented beverage volume, and that the representatives had admitted that milk foam was a component of a latte and counted towards volume. Lastly, it was established by Starbucks that the etched lines in the pitchers were to assist baristas when pouring cold milk into the pitcher before it was aerated and steamed.
Lexis subscribers can access the opinion at: Strumlauf v. Starbucks Corp., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2409 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 5, 2018)
Lexis Advance subscribers can find the opinion at: Strumlauf v. Starbucks Corp., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2409
Author: Sheri Steinmetz, Lexis-Nexis Case Law Editor
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