A California family is suing Starbucks after members said they found red smears on their cups that they claim are blood stains from a barista.
The San Bernardino family filing the suit, Amanda and Louis Vice, mother-in-law Rhonda Agles, and 2-year-old daughter Payton, said they believe they ingested a barista's blood when they drank the beverages Feb. 6, 2016.
Attorneys for the Vices said they went to the drive-thru of the shop located at 601 W. 2nd St. and ordered a venti hot White Chocolate Mocha filled to the top with whip cream, grande Java Chip Frappuccino and venti ice water. They started drinking the beverages, but once they got home, they noticed the cups had red smears that had a "strong metallic smell," according to the lawsuit.
"The blood was smeared on the inside and outside rim of the cup," the lawsuit filed by Frish Law Group claimed.
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After checking to make sure no one in the family had cut themselves or was bleeding, they said they called the Starbucks store. The family said it was "nauseating" to think that they might have been drinking someone’s blood and were especially concerned because the 2-year-old child had sipped whipped cream from one of the cups, the lawsuit said.
"The thought of drinking somebody else's blood made me sick to my stomach," Amanda Vice said.
The family's attorney said a store employee confirmed over the phone that an employee was bleeding and had been removed from the sales floor. The family then claims the manager offered free drinks for a week for the family’s inconvenience, which the attorney said the family declined. The family said they wanted the barista to undergo a blood test "to determine if he or she was HIV positive or had some other communicable disease."
The suit claims the manager agreed and would send the employee to get a blood test, but later, after filing a complaint with corporate offices, the family was told Starbucks cannot force an employee to get a blood test.
"The intention was always to try to resolve it with Starbucks," the family's attorney Stan Pekler said.
Starbucks said in a statement that they are "aware of this claim that allegedly took place in 2016 and are prepared to present our case in court."
The suit also claims the coffee giant offered $1,000 to each family member for their troubles.
The family's attorney said they all were tested for HIV, but had to be tested again after six months.
HIV is transmitted by body fluids through specific activities, most commonly through sexual acts and needle or syringe use. In extremely rare cases, it is transmitted through contact between broken skin, wounds, or mucous membranes and HIV-infected blood or blood-contaminated body fluids.
"The family was then left to schedule their own blood tests, causing extreme distress for the parents as they had to watch their daughter be poked with a needle and agonizingly wait for the results," the attorney said in a statement.