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Lawsuit Against Dunkin’ Believed to be First Alleging Link Between Severe Customer Burns and Defective Paper Coffee-Cup Carrier

Picklo Litigation

HOLLY, N.J. (April 28, 2022) – A severely burned Delran, New Jersey woman is suing Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. (DNKN:Nasdaq), among several defendants, in what is believed to be the first negligence and product liability lawsuit in which it is alleged that a customer’s second and third degree scalding-liquid burns occurred in large part because of the company’s “structurally and dangerously-defective, four-cup paper coffee carrier”, said Paul R. D’Amato, of the D’Amato Law Firm that represents the plaintiff.

“This is a serious, life-altering incident that we now know was waiting to happen due primarily to the defectively designed, flimsy, paper coffee carrier that the negligent Dunkin’ store employee used to deliver three cups (extra-large, large, medium) of hot coffee – collectively weighing more than three pounds – to Samantha Picklo, as she waited, as instructed, in the driver’s seat of her vehicle, outside the store,” said Mr. D’Amato. “The shallow paper cup holder – even doubled up in an apparent effort to provide additional support – catastrophically failed when the employee at the Route 130 Delran Dunkin’ Donuts attempted to hand the carrier to Ms. Picklo. Still recovering after her emergency treatment and hospitalization at a specialty burn unit, she’s concerned that what happened to her can and will happen to others unless Dunkin’ promptly replaces its hazardous beverage carriers.” He added, “Our preliminary forensic examination clearly shows the type of carrier Dunkin’ used to deliver coffees to Ms. Picklo is inherently unstable and unsafe. The defendants know this, and that’s why their third-party delivery services – including Door Dash – use an entirely different carrier, one which is sturdy and sealed. That is likely a more expensive option for Dunkin, but aren’t its customers worth the expense?”

Ms. Picklo, a working mother of three special needs children (the youngest is 5), said of the August 17, 2021, incident, “I was in total shock. I never felt such excruciating pain as when those coffees – starting with the Extra Large cup – suddenly dropped onto my lap; riding in the ambulance to the burn unit in Philadelphia, all I could think of were my precious babies and if I’d be able to care for them. I’m still scarred from these burns to my lower body, but even more searing is the thought that this can and will happen again unless Dunkin’ replaces those carriers with ones that are safe. That can’t happen soon enough.”

The multi-count lawsuit (Picklo vs. Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. et al. BUR-L-495-22) filed last month in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Burlington County Law Division, and which includes a claim for damages, also alleges:

  • Dunkin’ and its affiliated defendants (the designer-manufacturer of the carrier is in the process of being determined and will be added as a named defendant in a subsequent amended filing) failed to anticipate that the use of its defectively designed four-cup beverage tray-carrier could result in serious injury to its customers, including during the transfer of orders through a drive-thru window or directly to a waiting vehicle (Ms. Picklo ordered at the drive thru, but was told to “pull forward”  while the coffees were being prepared, and they’d be brought to her.)
  • Dunkin’ and its affiliated defendants failed to provide a safe designated area in its store lot for the delivery of ordered food and beverages for waiting vehicles. There was no safe designated area at the Delran, Rt. 130 store where the incident occurred.
  • Dunkin’ and its affiliated defendants were negligent in failing to provide franchise owners and their employees proper training in the safe handling and delivery of beverages – especially hot drinks – to expressly avoid injuries such as those sustained by Ms. Picklo.

Barnes Hutchins, Ms. Picklo’s husband,  said, “We are immensely grateful to the Delran first responders, the medical teams, and all those that worked to help Samantha after this tragedy, that was so clearly preventable. All we want is for all the facts to come out and, most importantly, for real changes to protect others from harm.”

Media Coverage:

911 calls related to this case:


Ms. Picklo, at this time, is unavailable for interviews.


Paul R. D’Amato / [email protected] / 609-926-3300

Steph Rosenfeld / [email protected] /215-514-4101