Man Burned by Caustic Beer at McCormick & Schmick’s Restaurant Awarded $750,000 

Millions of people go out for dinner or a beer every day without incurring an injury from the food they are consuming. When you go out to eat at a restaurant, you put your trust in the hands of the bartender or chef on duty. One thing that you would not expect is to leave with an injury derived from ingesting a dangerous chemical. A man whose esophagus and stomach were severely burned when he drank a beer tainted by a caustic chemical at an Atlantic City, New Jersey casino restaurant has been awarded $750,000 by a jury. The jury awarded the man, Richard Washart, $650,000 for pain and suffering and $100,000 for emotional distress caused by the accident, according to his attorney Paul D’Amato. The incident occurred at McCormick & Schmick’s, a popular chain of seafood restaurants, inside Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City.The chemical in question was a caustic agent that the restaurant used to clean its beer tap lines.

Washart, who is a former Ocean City, New Jersey police lieutenant, said he took a sip of the beer he had been served and noted that he immediately felt a burning pain in his mouth, throat, and stomach. After this, he went to the bathroom, where he experienced the first of six rounds of projectile vomiting. He tried to drink water from a faucet but was unable to do so because of the pain in his mouth and throat. A short time later, he began vomiting blood and was taken to a hospital. A doctor informed him that he had never seen a patient survive with such severe burns to their esophagus and stomach.

McCormick & Schmick’s shifted the blame for the incident to the company it uses to clean its beer lines, Kramer Beverage Co., which denied being at the restaurant when Washart drank the beer. Washart’s attorney also faulted Kramer Beverage, noting that the company doesn’t follow industry recommendations to use pH testing strips that cost 15 cents each to check beer after lines have been cleaned. But he also said the restaurant violated New Jersey’s Adulterated Food Act by serving a tainted brew.

The court ordered that each defendant must pay for half of Washart’s award. The restaurant’s parent company, Houston-based Landry’s Inc., insisted it had done nothing wrong and said it will appeal the ruling. “There is a problem in America today when you can do nothing wrong but still be found liable for the action of another,” said Steve Scheinthal, general counsel for Landry’s, which also owns the Golden Nugget casino across the street from the restaurant. The company plans to appeal the verdict.

Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in a foodservice establishment as a result of negligence, you may be able to recover for your injuries through a personal injury action. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Gwinnett County, Muscogee County, and Troup County.

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