Nassau County

‘It’s a hell to pay:’ Nassau County jury awards woman millions in Starbucks drive-thru lawsuit

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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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