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April 05, 2018

Wawa lawsuits: Man blames store for arm crushed by compactor; customer claims faulty coffee cup caused burned crotch

Lawsuits Wawa
Stock_Carroll - Wawa Coffee Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Coffee cups at Wawa in Philadelphia.

Wawa is in the midst of at least two injury-related legal battles: In one a man is suing the convenience store chain after his arm was crushed in a trash compactor; and in the other, a plaintiff claims a faulty coffee cup collapsed, spilling hot coffee that burned his groin.

The trash compactor suit was originally filed in January 2017 by Patrick Adams of Lansdowne, Delaware County. Earlier this week, Adams' attorney asked the court to hold Wawa in contempt for failing to respond to two subpoenas issued a year ago.


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The case dates back to an incident in 2015 at a Wawa store in Ridley Township, Delaware County. Adams had been operating a trash compactor/bailer and the suit claims he was instructed to reach his arm into the machine. The trash compactor then malfunctioned and crushed Adams's left arm, the lawsuit said.

“Plaintiff attempted to press the ‘Stop’ button on the compactor several times, but the machine could not stop and continued to operate ..." court documents state.

Adams' attorney say he suffered permanent injuries, including loss of function in his arm and has required multiple surgeries since it happened. He is seeking more than $50,000 in damages, according to a report by PennRecord.com on the case.

Wawa is listed as a defendant in the case, along with Waste Way Systems in Tampa, Florida and Advanced Hydraulic Systems in Chester, Delaware County.

The subpoenas that Wawa reportedly has not responded to were issued in April and June 2017 and sought the convenience store chain's documents and records for the Ridley Township store's trash compactor.


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When Wawa's attorney's still had not responded to the subpoena earlier this year a Delaware County Common Pleas judge gave Wawa 10 more days to produce the items. The window of time expired on March 8, and nearly a month later there is still nothing from Wawa. Now the retailer could face sanctions in the case.

“The documents would reveal discoverable information necessary to plaintiff’s pursuit of his case since immediately after the plaintiff’s injury, the machine was stripped down and cleaned,” Adams’ petition reads.

The other Wawa lawsuit is reminiscent of the landmark 1994 lawsuit won by a woman who sued McDonald's after she spilled a cup of scalding coffee on her lap.

Wawa is being sued for what a customer describes as a malfunctioning coffee cup that led to severe burns on his groin, legs, and body. That lawsuit was filed by James Hall against Wawa Inc. and Wawa Beverage Co. in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court

Hall alleges in February 2017 he purchased coffee from a Wawa store and while holding the cup in his hand, the sides of the cup buckled, spilling the hot coffee onto his lap.

The coffee cup's manufacturer RPC Letica also is a defendant in the case.

“The cup is defective, because it lacks sufficient rigidity to prevent its collapse when being used in a foreseeable manner," PennReport.com quoted from court documents in an article posted last month. "The cup lacks sufficient rigidity because of the combination of its height, width, wall thickness, and the composition of its materials."

Hall seeks more than $50,000 in damages for his injuries which he alleges caused permanent scarring and disfigurement.

The lawsuit claims that complaints and safety concerns about Wawa’s cups manufactured by RPC Letica have previously been reported and no action has been taken.