Red Lobster sued over injuries from caustic beer
A customer claims lye used to clean tap lines at a Dallas location scorched his mouth, throat and stomach.
Like finding lye in its beer lines.
Though it's an isolated incident, a man from Panama City, Fla., claims he was on the receiving end of Red Lobster's worst nightmare when he was scorched with potassium hydroxide -- lye -- from a Budweiser he drank during a business lunch in Dallas in May 2011. According to The Dallas Observer, Justin Grogg took a sip of his beer and immediately felt his throat, esophagus and stomach starting to burn.
According to Grogg's lawsuit, he got the attention of the restaurant's manager, who told him to "drink water and go to the hospital." The complaint alleges the manager knew that the beer tap system had been cleaned that morning with potassium hydroxide, which is caustic and can cause severe bodily harm if swallowed.
Doctors treated Grogg quickly, but he still experienced "severe pain" and was told he could develop "esophageal strictures, esophageal reflux changes, and/or pharyngeal infection in the future as a result of the ingestion of the potassium hydroxide."
Grogg is seeking between $50,000 and $100,000 from Red Lobster and the company that cleaned the Dallas location's beer tap system to cover medical expenses and compensate for his physical pain.
For Red Lobster and Darden, it's just the latest setback in an already tough 2013. Just before last year's presidential election, Darden faced criticism for testing the use of more part-time employees to avoid paying the cost of the national health insurance mandate known commonly as Obamacare. The company backpedaled after customer satisfaction declined at restaurants where the tests took place.
For two consecutive quarters, Darden has failed to meet sales expectations as it admitted misjudging its specials by offering 2-for-$25 meal deals when competitors such as DineEquity's (DINE) Applebee's, Brinker Restaurants' (EAT) Chili's and Bloomin' Brands' (BLMN) Outback Steakhouse offered 2-for-$20 meal deals or $10 entrees.
Darden also increased the number of chicken and beef items offered at Red Lobster from 8% of the menu to nearly a quarter, added low-calorie options to Olive Garden's menu and changed that chain's slogan from "When You're Here, You're Family" to the more fast-paced "Go Olive Garden." That move didn't work, and in January, Darden replaced Olive Garden's president in an effort to boost results. Then Darden announced plans in February to completely overhaul the chain and tear out its Tuscan decor.
Note: This story was updated May 17 to correct the company name to Darden Restaurants and that this incident happened in 2011.
Tainted beer? OK! NOW, I'M PISSED!!!
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