Pacific Northwest Starbucks has agreed to pay up to $3 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged the company did not reimburse California...

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Starbucks has agreed to pay up to $3 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged the company did not reimburse California employees for mileage expenses incurred on the job.

Store managers, assistant managers and shift supervisors who worked at California stores from March 2003 until March 2008 are eligible for payments of $30 to $75 each before taxes, according to a settlement stipulation filed last month in U.S. District Court.

Starbucks denies liability and agreed to class-action status for settlement purposes only, according to the document.

Court papers indicate that Jonelle Lewis filed the lawsuit in March 2007 after having worked at Starbucks since December 2005. She resigned the month she filed the lawsuit.

In her complaint, Lewis said she regularly used her vehicle for work, including making bank deposits and getting supplies, but was denied reimbursement.


Billionaire buys stake, stocks rise

Starbucks stock rose 98 cents, or 6.1 percent, to $17.05 Friday on news that billionaire Nelson Peltz and his Trian Fund Management bought a 0.1 percent stake in the Seattle-based coffee-shop chain.

Trian owned 898,500 Starbucks shares as of March 31, according to filings by Peltz’s funds Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Trian spokesman Jonathan Doorley declined to comment beyond the filing.

“There are many investors who buy and sell Starbucks stock on a daily basis,” Starbucks spokeswoman Valerie O’Neil said in an e-mailed statement. “We do not comment on investors who may purchase our securities.”

Theo Chocolate

Funding round nears $3.5 million

Theo Chocolate in Fremont is about $500,000 away from raising $3.5 million for further growth.

The maker of organic, fair-trade chocolate will use the money for “sales and marketing, and to improve equipment,” said Joe Whinney, founder and CEO. Theo promotes itself through in-store demonstrations and participation in markets and other food events.

Theo began selling chocolate in February 2006 with an initial investment of less than $3 million from friends and family. The new round of funding has brought the number of investors to 30 individuals, some investing as little as $25,000.

Known for daily public tours of its chocolate factory, Theo’s products are sold in specialty and natural-foods stores in 48 states.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff and Bloomberg News