The lawsuit alleged that a customer at the McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant, located within the Harrah’s casino, was served beer that had been contaminated with cleaning solution. The restaurant and the company it hired to clean its beer lines were both named as defendants in the lawsuit. The casino was not a named party.
The facts stemming from the incident were gruesome and probably resulted in the large jury award. Apparently, the moment that the Plaintiff took a gulp of the beer he began to feel an immediate burning sensation in his mouth and down his throat. After taking his first sip, he ran to the bathroom and proceeded to vomit. He attempted to drink water from the faucet inside the bathroom but was unable to do because of his excruciating pain. Following his initial round of vomiting, he began to throw up blood and was taken to the hospital where he was admitted for 6 days. A doctor stated that he had never seen a patient with these types of burns to his esophagus and stomach as he had in this case.
Apparently, all of this could have been prevented if the cleaning company had utilized a pH testing strip that costs less than a dollar to check the acidity of the beer lines after cleaning.
Some observers, actually felt that the jury award was rather low for the life-threatening nature of his injuries. The restaurant’s parent company claims that it will appeal the ruling and that they had done nothing wrong. While, defendants seem to be pointing figures at one another, the fact remains that the individual bringing the lawsuit suffered serious harms that will likely have lasting effects on his health. In this case, there was no fault on the part of the injured customer. The restaurant and the cleaning company it hired were responsible to exercise reasonable care to avoid negligently injuring an innocent party such as the customer in this case. It would unfair to make the plaintiff in this case bear the burden of this accident due to no fault of his own.
While, this may be considered a “freak accident”, in fact it was entirely avoidable had the responsible parties followed procedures to make sure that the beer lines were cleared of caustic chemicals prior to dispensing beer to the restaurant’s customers.