After serving a man a glass full of chemicals instead of a drink, Cracker Barrel finally has to pay for its mistake—but the company sounds less than remorseful. CNN reports that a jury in Marion County, Tennessee has ordered the restaurant chain to pay a customer $9.4 million in damages.
The incident that sparked this drawn-out legal battle happened in April of 2014. A man named William Cronnon was dining at a Cracker Barrel and was served a glass of liquid which he thought was ice water. Unfortunately after taking a sip and feeling a burning sensation in his mouth and throat, Cronnon came to find out that he had been served a chemical called Eco-San. This chemical was being used to clean the kitchen at the time.
The legal process overall is a long one, considering the original incident happened eight years ago, but interestingly, it took the jury only 40 minutes to deliberate and deliver its verdict. The jury awarded compensatory damages of $4.3 million and then came back 10 minutes later and awarded $5 million in punitive damages.
Obviously, the verdict rubbed Cracker Barrel the wrong way, because a media relations representative for the company emailed CNN and stated, “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.” Sounds like Cracker Barrel wants everyone to just get over it.
Initially, I almost wanted to side with the company that $9.4 million was an excessive amount of money for just one sip, but the more I thought about it the more I changed my own mind. The man was poisoned; CNN says the Eco-San “caused permanent and serious internal physical injury” and that Cronnon “is still suffering from symptoms, including injuries to his mouth and esophagus... which have incurred and will continue to incur medical expenses.”
Imagine taking a sip of what you think is water but then turns out it’s straight vodka. That would call for a spit take and you’d likely be pretty unhappy about it. Now, intensify that because ingesting cleaning chemicals could actually kill you. Cracker Barrel can pout about it, but almost poisoning a customer deserves some punishment.