Former Inquirer Reporter Sues Starbucks Over Hot Tea

Delco's Marilou Regan claims that the hot tea caused nerve damage.

Left: Marilou Regan (Photo by HughE Dillon). Right: Starbucks tea cup. (Photo by Flickr user Patricia Bullack).

Left: Marilou Regan (Photo by HughE Dillon). Right: Starbucks tea cup. (Photo by Flickr user Patricia Bullack).

UPDATE: After this article was first published, Philadelphia magazine heard from Marilou Regan, who said she had not authorized the filing of the lawsuit and that she intends to have it withdrawn on Monday. Reached for comment, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit told us that Regan has a “very strong” case and that he would have no further comment until after discussing the matter with Regan on Monday.


The McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit is the stuff of legend and still has people scratching their heads more than 20 years after a jury ruled against the fast-food giant. And now a suburban Philadelphia woman — a former Inquirer reporter — has sued Starbucks because its hot tea was, yes, too hot.

Springfield resident Marilou Regan has filed a personal injury lawsuit against Starbucks. According to the suit, filed originally in Delaware County Common Pleas Court and then transferred to federal court, Regan claims that she was injured after drinking “scalding hot” tea that she was served at the Starbucks on West Chester Pike in Havertown back in May 2014. The suit claims that her tongue was scalded and that she suffers from damage to her nerves and taste buds.

Regan, 64, accuses Starbucks of being negligent and careless by serving her tea that was too hot and seeks unspecified damages. In the McDonald’s case, the injured woman was originally awarded $2.86 million by a jury. That sum was later reduced by a judge, and the parties eventually settled out of court.

In 2010, an Illinois judge threw out a suit filed by a Starbucks customer who said that she was burned by hot tea. “This is the kind of case where the court has to be careful to not rule impulsively,” the judge said in court. “Everyone has heard of the McDonald’s coffee case that became fodder for late-night comedians.”

Regan once worked as a Delaware County correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer. These days, she describes herself as a “Rolling Stones Archivist and Historian,” having published more than 100 stories about the band.

She also wrote a 2000 book about being a Rolling Stones fan. Regan sued longtime Rolling Stones manager Rupert Loewenstein and band publicist Tony King, among others, over that book, claiming that they reneged on offers to help her. A judge threw that suit out of court.

Lawyers for Regan and Starbucks were not immediately available for comment.

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