A man who sued an Atlantic City restaurant for burning his esophagus and stomach after he drank a beer tainted by a caustic chemical has been awarded $750,000.
A jury awarded Richard Washart on Friday $650,000 for his pain and suffering and another $100,000 for emotional stress.
Wishart claimed that he was served beer tainted by a caustic agent used to clean beer tap lines and sued McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant at Hannah’s casino. The casino was spared from the said lawsuit.
In its defense, the restaurant pinned the blame instead on a company it uses to clean its beer lines- Kramer Beverage Co. Of Hammonton, which in turn denied being at the restaurant when Wishart was served and drank the beer on November 6, 2012. The defendants must divide the payment of the award to Wishart.
The restaurant’s parent company, Houston-based Landry’s Inc. vows to appeal the decision, insisting that it had done nothing wrong.
Steve Scheinthal, general counsel for Landry’s said: “There is a problem in America today when you can do nothing wrong but still found liable for the action of another.”
Steinthal said it was Kramer Beverage who “obviously made a mistake” which was the basis of Wishart's claims. He added they are confident the restaurant will eventually be absolved of any liability in Wishart's claims.
Wishart is a former Ocean City police lieutenant and shared his harrowing experience at the restaurant. He said he took a gulp of the beer he had been served and immediately felt a strong, burning pain. He then ran to the bathroom, where he experienced the first of six rounds of projectile vomiting. He attempted to drink water from a faucet but was unable to because of the pain in his mouth and throat.
He started vomiting blood shortly after and went to a hospital. A doctor informed him he had never seen a patient survive with such severe burns to the esophagus and stomach. Wishart was hospitalized for six days.
Wishart's lawyer, Paul D’ Amato blamed Kramer Beverage, arguing that it doesn’t follow industry recommendations to use pH testing strips that cost 15 cents apiece to check beer after lines have been cleared. He also faulted the restaurant violated New Jersey’s Adulterated Food Act by serving a tainted brew.