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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » One Free Drink Worth $114 million?

   
Author Topic: One Free Drink Worth $114 million?
Teshi
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These Americans are crazy [Wink] .

quote:
A Starbucks customer in the US who was told her free drink voucher was worthless is launching a $114m (60m) lawsuit against the coffee colossus.

Starbucks pulled the free drink offer, saying it had been redistributed beyond its original intent.

The woman's lawyer says $114m equals the cost of drinks for all those turned away when the company decided to cancel its offer.

Linky

I posted this for a laugh, not for a discussion. However, the only weird thing I think is why Starbucks thought an e-mail-based coupon was a good idea.

The woman must be a little bit off her rocker.

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citadel
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quote:
why Starbucks thought an e-mail-based coupon was a good idea
Sending coupons via email is a very cheap way of delivering coupons (which are really promotional ads) to a large number of people.
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Teshi
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Well, the problem lies in the fact that the FWD: button exists. Unless you are going to provide some sort of way of making sure only the target group of people gets the coupon.
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Morbo
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quote:
Originally posted by Teshi:
I posted this for a laugh, not for a discussion. However, the only weird thing I think is why Starbucks thought an e-mail-based coupon was a good idea.

Email coupons are fine, if they do don't give away too much, like 20 or 50 cents off an overpriced coffee.
The questions is: why Starbucks thought an e-mail-based coupon for a FREE coffee was a good idea.

Also, crazier lawsuits have prevailed.

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GaalDornick
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[Roll Eyes] If she wins...

They should pay her the price of gas it took her to drive there and maybe give a few extra bucks as an apology. [Wink]

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breyerchic04
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I got free coffee at Starbucks last night, my mom and I had just ordered a frappucino to share when they messed up the one for the people in front of us (they made a smaller size than he wanted or paid for), so the lady gave it to me, and we then had two.
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OSTY
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The $114 million will not go to one person. This will devided amoung all the people that join in on the class action suit. More than likely, Starbucks will settle on an agreement and it will all blow over. But this is clearly a situation where Starbucks is at fault. They should have done an experation date on the coupon or not done it at all. These are people based in Seattle, they should have a pretty good idea of the extent of the internet!
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MightyCow
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I think there needs to be a serious limit on this kind of class action lawsuit. The lawyer is going to get a couple million out of Starbucks, and a bunch of people are going to get a paper coupon for one free small coffee.

There's no reason a lawyer should be able to get rich by harassing a company over what's essentially a stupid mistake. Starbucks should be able to re-issue coupons or something reasonable.

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Paul Goldner
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Limit on the lawsuit, or limit on what lawyers can take as their cut compared to what their clients actually get?
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OSTY
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quote:
Originally posted by Paul Goldner:
Limit on the lawsuit, or limit on what lawyers can take as their cut compared to what their clients actually get?

I think their should be a limit the lawyer gets compared to what the acutally client gets. 10% of what the client gets would be fair. There for it the clients get $1 each. The lawyer gets 10 cents from each of the clients. Though if the lawyer has 10 million clients, that is still a fairly good pay off compared to what the single client gets.
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Paul Goldner
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"I think their should be a limit the lawyer gets compared to what the acutally client gets. 10% of what the client gets would be fair."

Well, I'm not sure I agree with 10%. The current going rate is more around 33-40%. I have no problems with allowing big takes by lawyers, because thats whats provides the incentive to go after big companies who break the law. 10% would probably be too low to actually enforce the laws on the books.

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Dagonee
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The problem with class actions is that the incentive of the lawyer doesn't line up with the incentive of the clients. The same thing happens with many shareholder derivative suits.

That's not to say that neither type of suit should be allowed. It is to say that the current incentive system is a built-in conflict of interest of a type generally not otherwise tolerated in law.

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Paul Goldner
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"The problem with class actions is that the incentive of the lawyer doesn't line up with the incentive of the clients."

True.
I'm not sure how to fix that, though, without removing any incentive for people to go after corporate wrong doers.

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MightyCow
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One of the problems is that there is very little incentive for a plaintiff to fight a frivolous lawsuit, because the legal fees, court costs, wasted time, and bad press can be incredibly high, even if they win.

The system works in such a way that bringing a suit against someone gets all sorts of money for the legal teams involved, regardless of the outcome, and costs the defense a great deal, even if they're found to be completely innocent.

The defense is really over a barrel, so that they lose no matter what they do. All they can do is limit their losses, most often by settling out of court. As long as the case has enough merit to go to trial, the defense has already lost, because they have to pay for their defense, even if they are completely innocent.

I think a good way to limit these suits would be to force the prosecution to pay all the legal fees and other associated costs if the defense is found innocent. I would imagine that this would force prosecuting lawyers to only take on cases they had a good chance of winning, and it would make it worth while for innocent defenders to take their case to court, as their fees wouldn't end up being more than the settlement.

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ricree101
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:

I think a good way to limit these suits would be to force the prosecution to pay all the legal fees and other associated costs if the defense is found innocent. I would imagine that this would force prosecuting lawyers to only take on cases they had a good chance of winning, and it would make it worth while for innocent defenders to take their case to court, as their fees wouldn't end up being more than the settlement.

I agree with that to a point, but it brings up another set of issues. For example, imagine someone with a legitimate grievance against a party with a lot more resources. They could end up not only losing because they were outspent, but they'd be left having to deal with the massive defense costs.
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MightyCow
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True ricree101. Unfortunately, the US legal system seems largely to be a game. Whoever has the most money, whoever plays the game best, often wins, regardless of guilt or innocence. I won't presume to say that there's any sort of easy solution to any of the problems.

At the same time, I think that there are so many vested interests in keeping it just the way it is, that there is little incentive for any change from within. Lawyers can make huge amounts of money with the system. Wealthy people have a great deal of freedom to bend and break the law in ways which are unavailable to anyone without the same wealth. I think a lot of powerful people would say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

I've heard that some countries have professional jurors, who are familiar with the law, and hopefully have a great deal of common sense and a finely tuned BS detector. It seems to me that if more juries used a lot of common sense, worked really hard to be open minded, and impartial, and more judges had the will and ability to throw out idiotic cases, we'd be better off. Maybe I'm living in a dream world.

Does anyone have any experience with a legal system using professional jurors? Does such a beast exist, and how does it different from US court?

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lem
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One thing I would like to point out is that sometimes these huge awards are not paid to compensate the victim or the lawyers, but rather to punish the company so the company will change behavior.

The most famous case is Stella Liebeck---the McDonalds coffee lady.

All she every wanted was $20,000 to pay medical bills. McDonalds refused. She was initially rewarded 160,000 in compensation and the $2.7 million was in punitive damages to McDonalds for ignoring the over 700 cases of where people got burned.

Obviously there can be debate whether it was a fair punishment. Coffee is supposed to be very hot, but Stella was initially only seeking to pay medical bills.

Big payouts can are sometimes meant as a punishment to alter policy, not as a quick rich scheme for lawyers or plaintiffs.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:

I've heard that some countries have professional jurors, who are familiar with the law, and hopefully have a great deal of common sense and a finely tuned BS detector. It seems to me that if more juries used a lot of common sense, worked really hard to be open minded, and impartial, and more judges had the will and ability to throw out idiotic cases, we'd be better off. Maybe I'm living in a dream world.

Thats an interesting idea. I've always believed that big problem with juries right now is that juries are necessarily biased in composition towards the poor and ignorant. This is not an insult, but simply because people with more education on average have higher incomes, and thus have more motivation to get better excuses to avoid jury duty (which pays pretty badly).

It would be interesting if they pre-selected a pool of "experts" in various fields that could then be called upon not to testify but to sit as jurors and be compensated appropriately.
Or even if for big cases where the defence has a defence team, jury selection experts, consultants, and hired witnesses to balance it out a bit by forcing say 33% of every dollar spent on defence and prosecution on attracting/paying a better informed pool of jurors.

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Nighthawk
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quote:
Originally posted by lem:
One thing I would like to point out is that sometimes these huge awards are not paid to compensate the victim or the lawyers, but rather to punish the company so the company will change behavior.

The most famous case is Stella Liebeck---the McDonalds coffee lady.

All she every wanted was $20,000 to pay medical bills. McDonalds refused. She was initially rewarded 160,000 in compensation and the $2.7 million was in punitive damages to McDonalds for ignoring the over 700 cases of where people got burned.

Obviously there can be debate whether it was a fair punishment. Coffee is supposed to be very hot, but Stella was initially only seeking to pay medical bills.

Big payouts can are sometimes meant as a punishment to alter policy, not as a quick rich scheme for lawyers or plaintiffs.

Personally, I think that lawsuit was stupid; any idiot knows that coffee's going to be hot; that hot coffee could cause $20K in medical fees means she decided to bathe in it as soon as she got it, which wasn't bright. Also, she put it between her legs while in a drive-thru, for crying out loud.

Should McDonalds now put in big bold letters "CAUTION - FILLED WITH LAVA" on their apple pies?

You say that it's for "punishment"... do you seriously think that $2.7 million is "punishment" to a behemoth like McDonalds? McDonalds posted revenue of just over FOUR BILLION in 2005, with *only* a net revenue of around 750 MILLION. $2.7M is petty cash, and hardly "punishment".

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fugu13
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McDonald's coffee was hotter than coffee at all the other major restaurants that serve drive-through coffee, and there had been previous serious injuries McDonald's was warned about. Classic case of negligence.

Generally, anything that can cause serious tissue damage should not be served in a flimsy paper cup out a window to people who should be driving cars.

The filling in the apple pies wouldn't be hot enough to seriously hurt you, so I'm not sure why they'd put such a warning on it.

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