Restaurant chain Cracker Barrel has been ordered to pay a Tennessee man $9.4 million after he was served a glass of chemicals instead of water.
William Cronnon was having lunch at a Marion County Cracker Barrel in April of 2014 when his server accidentally refilled his water glass with a cleaning solution, reports CNN.
The chemical, Eco-San, was used by the restaurant to clean areas of the kitchen, and restaurant employees used water pitchers to mix the sanitiser with water.
“The waitress refills his glass after his meal with what she thought was water but turned out to be a mixture of water and Eco-San – a commercial-grade bleach,” Thomas Greer, an attorney representing Cronnon, told Newsweek.
After taking a sip, Cronnon “immediately realize(d) that it was not iced water but was some chemical that caused a burning sensation in his mouth and esophagus,” the court documents read.
Ingesting the commercial-grade bleach has also caused Cronnon severe, long-term digestive problems, including cramping, bloating, diarrhoea, and reflux, reports NBC News.
The case went to trial, and after only 30 minutes of deliberation, a jury awarded Cronnon compensatory damages totalling $4.3 million.
Another ten minutes of additional deliberation and the jury awarded punitive damages of $5 million.
“The speed of the verdict, combined with an amount in excess of what we asked, speaks to just how dangerous the Cracker Barrel policy was,” Greer told Newsweek.
In response to the verdict, Cracker Barrel said in a statement to Insider: “While we have great respect for the legal process, we are obviously disappointed by and strongly disagree with the jury’s award in this case, which involved an unfortunate and isolated incident that occurred at one of our stores eight years ago.”
“Although we are considering our options with respect to this verdict, we are glad this matter is behind us so we can better focus on caring for our guests and employees around the country.”
Unfortunately, Cronnon will likely only receive up to $750,000 of the money, due to a cap Tennessee asserts on noneconomic damages.