Woman Sues Over Public Flap at Starbucks

Barista refused her service over mask, and someone made a GoFundMe for him
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2021 1:30 PM CST
Woman Sues Over Public Flap at Starbucks
A barista reaches for an empty cup at a Starbucks in the Pike Place Market in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Sometimes, public disputes over masks on social media flame out quickly. And sometimes, as in this case, they just keep escalating. In the latest development, a San Diego woman who got into a dispute with a Starbucks barista about wearing a mask is suing the creator of a GoFundMe campaign that raised money for the barista, reports CBS News. This all started in June, when Amber Gilles was refused service by Lenin Gutierrez because she wasn't wearing a mask. Gilles posted a since-deleted tweet about the incident, including a photo of Gutierrez and adding, "Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption," per USA Today. Her post was seen by a man named Matt Cowan, who launched a GoFundMe page for Gutierrez that ended up raising $105,000 for the barista. The page criticized Gilles as a "San Diego Karen."

In July, Gilles asked for half the money, to no avail. Now she is suing Cowan for unspecified damages, alleging invasion of privacy. Gilles says she has been subjected to online harassment, threatening phone calls, and even death threats because of the campaign. Cowan doesn't sound worried, arguing that Gilles started everything with her public tweet and that he isn't responsible for what other people have done. "I was surprised that she found a lawyer to take the case,” he says. In the meantime, he has started another GoFundMe campaign for his legal fees, and Gilles has started one of her own as well. As for Gutierrez, NBC San Diego reports that he has received the entire amount raised, minus taxes and fees. (Gutierrez isn't the only barista to get tangled up in mask rules.)

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