Court Pours Out Suit Over Starbucks Coffee Pods


     (CN) — Kraft did not have to ensure the continued availability of Starbucks single-serve coffee pods when it partnered with Starbucks to sell its Tassimo single-cup coffee brewer, the Sixth Circuit ruled, dismissing a consumer class action.
     When Pamella Montgomery bought a Tassimo single-cup coffee machine made by Kraft Foods, the machine bore a sticker reading, “Featuring Starbucks Coffee.”
     Shortly thereafter, however, Kraft’s business relationship with Starbucks went sour. Starbucks coffee pods, also called T-Discs, compatible with the machine became increasingly difficult to find and eventually disappeared.
     Other coffeemakers, including Maxwell House and Gevalia, still make coffee pods compatible with the machine.
     But Montgomery was dissatisfied with her purchase, and sought to represent a class in Michigan, accusing Kraft and Starbucks of violating the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, and breach of express and implied warranty.
     A federal judge refused to certify the class, dismissed Montgomery’s warranty claims, and approved an offer by the defendants to pay Montgomery $250 on her consumer claim, plus $6,800 in attorneys’ fees. Montgomery had sought $180,000 in fees and costs.
     The Sixth Circuit affirmed Monday out of Cincinnati.
     “To properly plead a breach-of-express-warranty claim then, Montgomery needed to allege that she was in privity with defendants,” Judge Deborah Cook said, writing for the three-judge panel. “She didn’t; her complaint acknowledged that she bought her Tassimo from a Fred Meijer grocery store, not directly from defendants.”
     The opinion notes that there is no claim by Montgomery that her Tassimo is inoperable, nor that the brewer failed to live up to its promise to make a “perfectly brewed cup” of Starbucks coffee at the time she purchased the machine.
     “Though Montgomery insists that the outer-box statements warrant the ‘continued availability’ of Starbucks T-Discs, we find no error by the district court in not reading that promise into the box-labeling,” Cook said.

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