On Friday, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson said Strumlauf and Robles could continue with their class-action lawsuit, denying Starbucks’s April motion to dismiss the claims.
The judge ruled that the lawsuit should proceed.
In his 14-page ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, Henderson wrote that Strumlauf and Robles had sufficiently alleged three legal theories that they could proceed with in the suit.
In support of those theories, they had claimed that the frothy milk foam atop a Starbucks latte should not be factored into the total volume of the beverage. They also alleged that the pitchers used to prepare lattes in all Starbucks locations have “fill to” lines that are below the advertised ounce amount. Lastly, the lawsuit references a recipe card, allegedly used by all baristas, that instructs the latte maker to “leave at least 1/4 [inch] of space below the rim of the serving cup.”
In its motion to dismiss, Starbucks argued that because a latte is defined as an espresso drink made with steamed milk and topped with foamed milk, the milk, in all its forms, should be considered part of the drink’s fluid-ounce total.
But Henderson wrote that a “significant portion of the latte-consuming public” would believe that a grande Starbucks beverage, for example, would contain 16 ounces of fluid as advertised, “measured without milk foam or in its cooled state.”
Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges told the Associated Press in a statement that the company will be prepared to defend itself in court, but that it thinks the lawsuit is “without merit.” Borges added that if a customer is unhappy with any Starbucks beverage, a barista “will gladly remake it.”
In that complaint, the plaintiff argues that Starbucks iced coffees contain too much ice and not enough coffee, duping customers into paying for less liquid than advertised.
“Starbucks is misleading customers who expect to receive the advertised amount of fluid ounces,” states that class-action lawsuit. “For example, if a gallon of gas is advertised as costing three dollars, and a customer pays three dollars and pumps gas, that customer is expecting to receive a gallon of gas — not approximately half a gallon.”