FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – A Nassau County jury has returned a multimillion dollar verdict for an elderly woman hit by an SUV while leaving a Starbucks in Fernandina Beach.
Her attorney said the coffee company put profit over people with a dangerous design to accommodate more customers.
Sherry Gold was hit nearly three years ago leaving the Starbucks at Sadler Road and 14th Street. She was 72-years-old at the time.
Gold said she was walking out of the store, going around the bend when an SUV came from the drive-thru and hit her, leaving her seriously injured.
Gold said she’ll never be the same, now using a walker to get around and still needing additional surgeries.
“I hope no one gets hurt because it is a hell to pay,” Gold told News4JAX on Tuesday morning.
The crash sent Gold to the hospital for a week, followed by a month of rehabilitation in a nursing home.
“It snaps Sherry Gold’s right knee, it snaps her ankle, it crushes her foot,” said her attorney, Curry Pajcic. He showed X-rays to document her injuries.
He places the blame on Starbucks Corporation and, on Monday night, so did a Nassau County jury. They found the Seattle-based coffee giant 100% liable for Gold’s injuries, awarding her $8.97 million.
“In this case, Starbucks corporation pushed their customers off the curb and into traffic and as a result, their customer got run over,” Pajcic said.
A statement from Starbucks reads:
“We take seriously our obligation to provide a safe store experience for our customers. We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict. We believe these allegations against Starbucks are without merit and we will be seeking a new trial.”
Pajcic argued that the company’s design was dangerous: No sidewalk for customers, no crosswalk, no signs, just a blind spot as cars left the drive-thru.
He pointed out the company’s original plan had a sidewalk, like other locations, but they did away with that for extra room on the patio. The location was built in 2014.
“It was bound to happen and not a matter of if but a matter of when,” he noted.
The jury cleared the driver in the civil case, finding her and Gold zero-percent at fault.
As Gold remains in pain, her lawyer hopes this brings change so it doesn’t happen again at this location or anywhere else.
“Safety comes first,” Pajcic said. “Safety comes first. You put people over profits, you put safety before money. And we hope that sends a message.”
News4JAX visited the location Tuesday afternoon. There was a sign cautioning drivers about pedestrians and a small amount of paint to keep distance from the drive-thru lane and the patio. However, there still isn’t a crosswalk or a sidewalk.