The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court’s dismissal of claims filed by a 76-year-old woman who alleged that she was seriously burned when trying to remove the lid from a cup of tea she purchased at Starbucks. Moltner v. Starbucks Coffee Co., No. 09-4943 (2d Cir., decided November 3, 2010).

The court issued a non-precedential summary order to affirm the grant of defendant’s summary judgment motion. According to the court, the district court correctly excluded the testimony of plaintiff’s experts because they were unreliable under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 standards. In this regard, the court stated, “[w]ithout the testimony of her expert witnesses, Moltner’s claims fail because there is no way for a reasonable juror to determine, with respect to her defective design claim, whether the risks posed by the product’s design outweighed its utility, or, with respect to her negligence claim, whether Starbucks failed to exercise due care.” (citation omitted).

The court issued a per curiam order to affirm the lower court’s ruling that Starbucks’ motion to remove the case to federal court was timely filed.

The plaintiff did not specify her damages in her initial complaint. Thereafter, Starbucks filed a pleading requesting the amount of her total damages, and she responded by stating that they did not exceed $3 million. Eight days later, Starbucks filed its notice of removal. The plaintiff argued that the notice was untimely because it had been filed more than 30 days after she filed her complaint. Disagreeing, the court stated, “We join the Eighth Circuit, as well as all of the district courts in this Circuit to have addressed the issue, in holding that the removal clock does not start to run until the plaintiff serves the defendant with a paper that explicitly specifies the amount of monetary damages sought.”