The problem is once again brewing for Starbucks, the global coffee empire, that Seattle billionaire Howard Schultz, who recently whistled to run for president before interrupting for three decades, building up in a strong caffeinated behemoth .
Tuesday's iconic company, which claims more than $ 22 billion in annual revenue and more than 27,500 outlets in nearly 80 countries, was merged with two lawsuits claiming that thousands of customers disputing Starbucks 100-century Manhattan stores have been exposed to a potentially fatal pesticide.
The lawsuits represent yet another public relation challenge for a company that has aggressively promoted, under Schultz & # 39; leadership, a socially conscious, environmentally friendly corporate image. In April 201
A class action lawsuit filed by 10 Starbucks New York Supreme Court customers claims that "Starbucks stores throughout Manhattan have, for many years, been steeped in a poisonous pesticide called Dichlorvos (2,2-dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate or DDVP & # 39;), Very toxic and completely unsuitable for use near food, beverages and humans. "Starbucks knows DDVP's toxic qualities and knows it has been used in Starbucks & # 39; stores throughout Manhattan "add," but have also not taken appropriate steps to stop the use or informed customers of the hazardous conditions to which they have inadvertently been exposed. "
The case continues:" DDVP is an active ingredient that Derived from the air by products called "No-Pest Strips", which are intended to be used only in unoccupied structures to remove such structures from pests, insects and insects. But they are explicitly not to be used anywhere people are present, and especially in situations where the pesticide may come into contact with food and / or beverages. The label on these products is clearly warned: & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; and Do not use in kitchens, restaurants or areas where food is prepared or served. & # 39; "
The federal disease control and prevention centers say prolonged exposure to DDVP by trial – can cause" bladder control loss, muscle tremor, respiration, nausea, anxiety, diarrhea, muscle weakness, cramps and paralysis and that more severe exposure can even result in coma, inability to breathe and death. "
In an email to The Daily Beast, a Starbucks spokesman declined class dress and another lawsuit filed in federal court by a fired Starbucks store manager and two of the coffee company's extinction companies – claiming that Starbucks leaders are repeated after they repeatedly has warned about the danger of pesticides – as a false attempt to shake down the company.
"The lawsuits filed by the applicants and their lawyers lack profit and are an attempt to raise public fears of their own financial gain", Starbucks emailed "We are doing very well to ensure our partners' security [the Starbucks term for ‘employees’] and our customers, and we are convinced that they are not compromised. Starbucks takes its partners' concerns very seriously and does not take action or retaliate against partners who express them. "
The federal lawsuit claims that" Starbucks stores throughout Manhattan … failed to take any necessary or appropriate measures to ensure their cleanliness and instead obscure hideous pesticides in their stores, including nearby of food and cooking areas …
"Moreover, this dangerous error has been systematically committed and with the apparent knowledge and approval of Starbucks Corporate Leadership – despite repeated warnings that such behavior was dangerous and illegal", the federal lawsuit highlights.
Contrary to the claims made in the two lawsuits, however, a Starbucks insider claimed that No-Pest Strips "were immediately" removed from the Manhattan stores on orders by management "by hearing reports that employees had used a product that However, no dates were given for the removal, and lawyers for the applicants speculated for The Daily Beast that Starbucks & # 39; management ordered that the strips were first released during the last month. When the trial was organized
Meanwhile, the Starbucks spokesman said foreign experts working for the company had declared No-Pest Strips to be a health hazard.
"I can confirm that we consulted experts who concluded that it was based on how the strips were used in stores, employees and customers were not exposed to health risks," said the spokesman. Asked the names and credentials of these experts, the spokesman said: "Unfortunately, because of the upcoming lawsuits, I can't share any further details right now."
Prosecutor lawyer Ariel Graff, representing the boss Starbucks store manager Rafael Fox (who claims he was mistakenly dismissed after complaining repeatedly about the alleged health hazards) and the pesticide control experts Paul D & # 39; Auria and Jill Shwiner, sent The Daily Beast that his customers " reported the dangers directly for more than a dozen different occasions in writing to the managers in charge of Manhattan stores who might have completed the internship (but chose not to)."
Graff added: "If Starbucks claims to have anonymous internal experts secretly" authorizing "it to use what is undoubtedly dangerous pesticides illegally in virtually all of its Manhattan stores for a number of years – this is something the public should know because it is completely outrageous." 19659018] "I am proud to represent my clients to insist that this cannot disappear in the shadows at the expense of countless thousands of unsuspecting customers, workers and visitors who have never agreed to expose themselves to an invisible poison gas as they step in for a cup of coffee, "continued Graff.
Lawyer David Gottlieb, representing Starbucks customers in the lawsuit case, said that while the current lawsuit only involves Manhattan stores, it could extend to New York's four other cities and even Starbucks stores nationwide, depending on the outcome of the discovery process.