Man Sues Whole Foods Over Exploding Green Tea

Some people drink tea to put a little spark into their day, but a Nashville man got explosions instead. He’s suing Starbucks and Whole Foods after bottles of Tazo green tea exploded twice in his possession. One time the bottle shattered in his hand, and another it blew up in his shopping cart. On one of the occasions, shards of glass damaged tendons in his hand that required two surgeries.

According to the Nashville City Paper, the victim/plaintiff says the hand injury has stifled his ability to work as a jeweler. He’s seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

From the City paper story:

The complaint says concerned Whole Foods employees gathered around and investigated the incident, with one commenting, “That’s really strange.”

If a drink has ever exploded on you, let’s hear about the punitive damages the beverages inflicted on you.

City Properties Lawsuit: Whole Foods sells exploding Tazo [Nashville City Paper]
(Thanks, Christy!)

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  1. c!tizen says:

    oh wow, someone is suing for a valid reason… I thought those days were gone.

    • Bunnies Attack! says:

      Dunno… it would be valid only if it were true right? Has anyone else’s tea exploded? And yet this guy’s exploded twice?

      • Me - now with more humidity says:

        Based on the timeframe, the two bottles could have been from the same batch and production run. If it’s a problem with the glass or the process, two could very easily explode.

    • Snoofin says:

      Whole Foods is in no way responsible for this as they didnt manufacture or package the tea. All they did was sell it. Are they supposed to inspect and test every single item that comes into the store? Now by all means sue Tazo all you want as it may be justified, but Im sick of all this sue whoever has the biggest pockets regardelss if they made the item or not.

      • c!tizen says:

        I wasn’t referring to the guy suing whole foods, I was referring to the fact the guy has a legitimate reason to sue somebody.

      • anarkie says:

        Could be their storage and handling techniques. That’s why you include both the store and manufacturer in the suit. Last thing you want is the suit tossed because the store didn’t follow proper handling procedures, and you didn’t list them. Could also be the transit company. BUT, the blame might not be 100% on Tazo. Bottled liquids build up pressure. Add heat and cooling variables, and things can go wrong quickly. Especially with glass.

      • SolidSquid says:

        It’s much easier to get someone removed from a suit than to get them added after it’s underway. Hence why people filing them tend to include anyone who might be responsible in the filings

    • scratchie says:

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha. You’re new here, right?

  2. sock says:

    I thought only my husband’s home brew exploded.

    • hypnotik_jello says:

      Probably because he wasn’t using a blow off tube during high krausen.

      • Zowzers says:

        Nah, bottle grenades are from 2 things.

        1. over priming, and 2. bottling prior to fermentation being over.

        the over priming thing is easy to avoid, just measure better. Avoiding the other one requires the use of a Hydrometer. Simply take a sample once a day for 3 days and measure its density with they hydrometer; if the gravity of the brew drops between those three days… well then fermentation is still occurring and you need to wait. Once you get 3 samples that stay the same gravity, then you know fermentation has stopped and its safe to bottle.

        • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

          3 things, boiling glass bottles to sanitize them. A mistake I made the first time I brewed and used a bunch of gross leftover bottles from a party I had a month earlier. Boom goes the dynamite.

          • Zowzers says:

            I find soaking them in a solution of Oxyclean for a few hours pretty much removes anything organic that may be in them. Its great for removing beerstone from fermenters as well!

  3. ConsumerPop says:

    I was thinking maybe there was some extreme fermentation in the bottle that caused it to explode? But that means it would have to be really old..weird. Tazo me one, shame on you, Tazo me twice, shame on me!

  4. qbubbles says:

    Yeah… I totally dont understand. Lol.

  5. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    How the heck would a bottle of tea explode?

    • DoubleEcho says:

      I don’t know exactly, but it could have been a combination of expanding pressure from ingredients and a weak bottle (bad batch of glass?). I once saw a jar of spaghetti sauce explode in a check out line…THAT was quite a mess.

      • hmburgers says:

        But two Tazo bottles, on separate occasions, and to the same man?

        It seems a bit suspicious…

        I’d say that they will need to find a pretty large group of people willing to testify that their Tazo bottles also exploded, followed by some pseudo-scientist expert testimony about why it’s happening because of poor bottle design or fermentation, etc…

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          It was probably the same shipment. Once is a freak occurrance, twice speaks to some structural problem with the shipment of bottles. The first time was April 5 and the second was April 19. It had to have been the same shipment of tea.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Putting the Tea back in TNT…

    • MrAgen10 says:

      My only thought is that when the bottles are nearing the end of production, they’re sterilized/pasteurized under high heat. This pulls a vacuum in the bottle, and why that “popup cap” stays down until opened, (same general process as home canning).

      So, that combined with a bad batch of glass could cause an implosion if the exact right conditions are met.

      Though, I can’t imagine the vacuum in the container being high enough to cause serious damage…But this is the only thought that makes any sense to me.

  6. chaesar says:

    why is he suing the distributor of the exploding teas, and not the manufacturer?

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      He’s suing them both.

      • chaesar says:

        oh, Starbucks makes Tazo, did not know that

        also, while the chance of having one bottle explode on you has got to be slim, what are chances of it happening twice? and he just happens to be a jeweler, which requires considerable dexterity of the hand and fingers? the mother of coincidences.

  7. hmburgers says:

    I’ve never heard of a bottle of tea exploding??? And for it happen twice to one man? Yikes…

  8. Holybalheadedchrist! says:

    Well, clearly he offended god. Sounds like that’s who he needs to sue.

    • stormbird says:

      It’s hard to sue God. You have to find the Ark of the Covenant first and the process servers tend to melt.

  9. theycallmeGinger says:

    OK, I always feel bad when everyone knocks Phil, but it’s not green tea — it’s peach. I wouldn’t care but the article says it 3 times and there’s a huge image of peach tea.

    When I first read this, I was on the side of the “victim.” But reading the article, I have to wonder why he went back to WF and bought the same tea just 2 weeks later. If I had to have surgeries on my injured hand, I’d stay clear of it. Not saying shenanigans yet, but has this happened to anyone else? Or just the same guy within 2 weeks. Hmmm…

    • Bativac says:

      Well, continue to feel bad for Phil. The bottle is pretty clearly labeled as “Diet Giant Peach Green Tea” in the picture you referenced.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      He probably thought it was unlikely to happen again.

      I continue to buy Classico brand pasta sauces even though one exploded all over my groceries in the checkout line a couple of years ago. I don’t expect it to happen again.

    • Chumas says:

      Perhaps the first time, he just thought: “Hmm, that had to be a fluke. Can’t happen again.”

      You don’t avoid hot cocoa ever since you scalded your tongue when you were 5, do you?

      • theycallmeGinger says:

        A scalded tongue is not comparable to a career-threatening and dangerous injury. I don’t remember multiple surgeries on my scalded tongue.

        Yes, I have avoided *scalding* hot cocoa since that first time. Though I suppose I could get some that’s clearly too hot to drink, drink it fast without checking, and then sue. Thanks for the advice!

    • ConsumerPop says:

      I agree–I honestly would have been weary to buy the same product from the same vendor a week later.

  10. Sneeje says:

    Don’t Tazo me bro!

  11. Why is this on Consumerist? says:

    I work at a grocery store, and I’ve never ever heard of this occurring. We currently do not carry Tazo, but we carried it for years. Never once heard of this happening.

  12. syzygy says:

    This is crazy. What are they supposed to do, perform an ultrasonic scan on all bottles to make sure there are no flaws? The facilities where these products are produced have high quality-control standards. If this was a problem with an entire production run, we’d be hearing more about Tazo explosions. I’m thinking the first bottle was an unfortunate freak accident, and the second was him setting up his lawsuit.

    But maybe he’s just really, really unlucky. Still doesn’t make suing everyone in sight the right response. The Whole Foods pulled the problem product, and there haven’t been widespread tea lacerations, so what’s the problem? Stuff happens.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      The Whole Foods pulled the problem product, and there haven’t been widespread tea lacerations, so what’s the problem?

      He’s had to have two surgeries on his hand and it has affected his ability to do his job.

      • syzygy says:

        Yes, I read the article. It’s unfortunate that he was injured. However, plenty of unforeseeable and ridiculously unlikely accidents happen every day. And like I said, something about the circumstances of this case make me suspicious. But hey, he’s well within his rights to go to court and try to prove that Whole Foods or Starbucks were somehow negligent. I wish him luck; that’s a tall order. What I’m saying is that sometimes, there’s no one to blame except blind chance. And she doesn’t pay out very well. Pinning blame on someone else who will pay better is wrong.

        • UnbelieverDjak says:

          The way I understand these things to work, In order to determine who is at fault, you need records. In order to get records, you have to sue. The fact is, bottles of tea don’t normally explode, yet the man still has a valid legal complaint. It’s not exactly easy to figure out who to blame for that kind of thing. Is it a quality control issue with Starbucks; is it a handling issue at Whole Foods? A combination of things? The companies aren’t likely to just hand over the information, so… Even if they figure the cause is probably at only one company’s end, they still have to perform due diligence if they don’t want the case thrown out.

    • DH405 says:

      This is crazy. What am I supposed to do, perform a breathalyzer test before driving every time to make sure I’m sober? My buddies all said I was okay to drive, and they have high sobriety standards. If this was a problem with my driving, I’d be hearing more about me killing pedestrians. I’m thinking the first lady was an unfortunate freak accident and the second one was just setting up a lawsuit and jumped in front of my car.

      But maybe they’re just really, really unlucky. Still doesn’t make suing everyone in sight the right response. I took a break from drinking, and there haven’t been widespread vehicular manslaughters, so what’s the problem? Stuff happens.

  13. mandy_Reeves says:

    Maybe he’s Chuck Norris? His hands wouldn’t have been cut though if that were the case

  14. Platypi {Redacted} says:

    I have seen soda bottles explode, but it typically requires some external stimulation (such as black powder and a spark in a sealed bottle). I can’t imagine a situation where a bottle of PEACH tea would explode!

  15. katarzyna says:

    Hm, I wonder if there was a bad batch, and this guy was unlucky enough to get two bottles from that same batch?

  16. kitty says:

    What a moron, sue the store that sells it? You sue the people who BOTTLED it!

    • RandomHookup says:

      Until you know the whole story, it’s difficult to know who made the mistake here…possible that Whole Foods has some culpability in the matter.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      He’s suing both. Maybe he’s upset he got another exploding bottle and felt they should have pulled all of them after the first time.

    • outcrazyophelia says:

      Restatement (Third) of Torts: Products Liability: “One engaged in the business of selling or otherwise distributing products who sells or distributes a defective product is subject to liability for harm to persons or property caused by the defect.”

      Products liability tends to be strict liability which means everyone in the distribution chain can get sued if the product is defective at the end. No one reasonably expects Whole Foods to really personally inspect every bottle but over the years, however, strict liability theory believes that they can better bear the costs of any accidents caused by a defective product they sold and that they were in a better position to find the fault than the plaintiff. If plaintiffs were still required to prove exactly who was at fault and show a contractual relationship with that party, they’d never recover anything.

  17. TheMonkeyKing says:

    I blame Kung-Fu grip!

  18. Andy says:

    I had a slightly carbonated fruit drink bottle explode on me, the bottle stayed in tact, but the bottle cap exploded off when I touched it and the contents (obivously fermented) exploded into my cube. Gyser style.

    Thinking it was a contaminate in the bottle and sheer randomness, been drinking the brand for a while, never had any problems.

  19. proscriptus says:

    Happened to me with a juice bottle in 1992 or so. 12 sutures in my hand. Small settlement, from the grocery store that sold it.

  20. Kibit says:

    How will the lawyer for the OP prove that the bottle of Tazo tea is what cut his hand? Since it happened at home and it appears that there aren’t any witnesses.
    Would they have to prove that 1, the bottle did in fact explode and 2, the bottle exploded while in his hand and caused damage.

    • syzygy says:

      His wife witnessed the first explosion, but no one witnessed the second; he alleges only that Whole Foods employees were “promptly aware” of it, which means they saw the broken bottle. Which makes me suspicious. He has to prove a lot more than you said, though. He has to prove that somewhere along the manufacturing path, a defect in the bottle, cap, or tea caused the bottle to fail, and that either Starbucks’ brewing and bottling process is inadequate to prevent such errors, or Whole Foods put the bottles out knowing they were defective. My guess is that one or both of the corporations will settle to make this go away, and this guy will get the payday he’s looking for. And we’ll never hear about another bottle of tea exploding ever again.

  21. ChristopherDavis says:

    “Don’t Tazo me, bro!”

  22. Griking says:

    I don’t get it, tea doesn’t just spontaneously explode. I’m thinking that he either had to have dropped it, dropped something on it or shook it up otherwise why doesn’t the stuff just explode on the store shelves? We’d be reading of many stories like this if it were due to the ingredients.

  23. Puddy Tat says:

    Overpriced crap and now that crap can blow your hands off! Is this a sign that wholes foods is truly the devil incarnate?

  24. sopmodm14 says:

    didn’t know teas come with IED’s

    funny aside, its hard to believe,but lets see what the investigations discover

  25. Big Mama Pain says:

    He was holding it wrong!

  26. d67f8g9uno says:

    The fact that he’s a jeweler and the injuries were to his hand is highly suspect. Not to mention the unlikelihood of two bottle of mere tea exploding without precedence or explanation. Isn’t it a bottle of champagne that will explode if touched with a metal object?

  27. Difdi says:

    This has happened to me repeatedly throughout my life, but not with beverages. I’ve had an average of one can of Pillsbury biscuit dough explode in my hand every 3 years throughout my life (I’m 35); Sometimes I go as long as five years without something going BANG, once it happened twice in a week (different stores). One time, the can exploded so vigorously, the end-cap flew off hard enough to break three jars of pickles on the shelf.

  28. productfred says:

    “You’re holding it wrong”

    Steve Jobs, Sent from my iPhone 4

  29. common_sense84 says:

    He did it on purpose. Tea is not pressurized like soda.

    If this was real, it would be happening to lots of people. Since it only happened twice only to one person, it’s 100% correct to say he is a liar.