NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. — Starbucks now owes a woman millions of dollars after a lawsuit proved the company was at fault for permanently disfiguring her.
The lawsuit focused on the design of the drive-thru at a Nassau County store.
An $8.97 million verdict shows Sherry Gold, who was hit by a car in the drive-thru of Starbucks on Sadler Road in Fernandina Beach, and the driver that struck her, were both not at fault for the crash.
A jury put all the blame on the corporation itself for causing several injuries that Gold said has now changed her life forever.
“I hope nobody gets hurt, because it’s a hell to pay and thank you for saving my life,” Gold said.
Gold looks back on the traumatizing experience that put her in a walker.
The then-72-year-old was hit back in 2019, crushing several bones.
“She has to crawl like a monkey up and down her stairs now,” said attorney Curry Pajcic, of the Pajcic & Pajcic law firm. “She’s facing multiple surgeries, requiring home attendant care. She can’t walk without a walker. She goes to the store and has to use a scooter. This has had caused devastating consequences to her life.”
Pajcic said there were no safety measures in place for walk-in customers.
“They pushed the fence into the edge of the curb, pushing their customer off the curb and directly into the path of drive thru traffic,” he said.
A view from the Action News Jax Skyvision drone shows there’s no parking in front of the main entrance.
There’s some parking on the side, which is where Gold was when she was hit.
“The customer cannot see the hidden danger around the corner,” Pajcic said.
Now, the drive-thru has caution lines and a caution sign. Pajcic said those were put in place after Gold was hit.
“Safety doesn’t happen by accident, and you don’t wait until an accident happens to do safety,” Pajcic said.
Pajcic said Starbucks’ original plan was to have a sidewalk, but it’s not there, saying this could’ve been prevented.
“Starbucks Corporation put profits over people. This was a dangerous design that Starbucks Corporation did not even defend in the courtroom. They never defended the safety of this design,” Pajcic said.
Pajcic said other Starbucks drive-thrus have design flaws and he hopes the jury’s decision puts a notice out moving forward.
A Starbucks spokesperson sent Action News Jax the following statement:
“We take seriously our obligation to provide a safe store experience for our customers. We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict. We believe these allegations against Starbucks are without merit and we will be seeking a new trial.”
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