The victims of the 2008 salmonella outbreak at the International House of Pancakes in Amarillo, Texas, have won their case. A jury awarded the Plaintiffs more than $1.4 million in damages. The jury returned a verdict of $140,000 for each of the ten Plaintiffs. Dean Boyd, one of the victims’ lawyers, said in closing arguments that the compelling, graphic testimony should be a warning for other Amarillo restaurants to keep their facilities clean.
Two of the Plaintiffs almost died and all others had very bad injuries. While the restaurant took responsibility, its lawyers asked the jury to assess “a fair compensation” to the Plaintiffs. IHOP agreed to pay the victims’ medical bills and lost earnings, but the food chain’s lawyers challenged the victims’ pain and suffering claims.
The victims and their spouses testified during the trial about the severe stomach pains and extended hospital stays after they ate at the restaurant. Other Plaintiffs in the case had settled nearly half of the claims originally a part of the lawsuit before trial. The suit, filed in May 2010, included 24 IHOP patrons as Plaintiffs. The settlement amounts were confidential.
The case arose from three separate salmonella outbreaks that sickened the restaurant’s patrons, starting in June 2008. From the first known poisoning case in June to a city health review in September, more than 125 people who ate at the IHOP location were victims of salmonella poisoning. IHOP employees said the syrup pitchers were not washed or sanitized before they were refilled. During that time, the restaurant closed its doors three times in response to potential salmonella outbreaks. The closures were prompted by a June 2008 city review in which 11 IHOP employees tested positive for the salmonella toxin. In the last case, which prompted the September 2008 closure, city officials determined the cause was an infected water bath used to warm bottles of syrup.
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