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KFC meal leaves girl severely brain damaged, unable to speak and wheelchair bound, company ordered to pay $ 8,3 million in damages

KFC says that it is "deeply disappointed" by the decision and will appeal.

The girl fell ill with salmonella poisoning after eating a wrap at KFC. She was in a coma for six months. Her parents and brother also fell ill after sharing the wrap but have since recovered.

The court was told by the family's lawyer that the restaurant would reuse chicken that had been dropped on the floor.

One might think that a company like KFC would prefer to settle than to fight this in the court.

What do you think ?
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Euro Maestro's profile photoEvan Sheiman's profile photoThierry Méchain's profile photoRandy Resnick's profile photo
51 comments
 
The one I had tonight was Yuuuummmmyyyy...... enjoyed mine
 
no longer have one here in barstow... :,(
 
Well, +Zerbeline M will agree: we ate at a KFC a few times. And each time, we were feeling nauseous and ill. We decided it couldn't be by chance and it was best for our family to stay away from these places.
 
They ought to bump up the fines... $8m is pocket change for large companies like KFC. The money need not go to the girl, but could be awarded to charity
 
The $ better go to the girl for her added living expenses caused by KFC!
 
+Farhad Divecha Well, the girl is now severely brain damaged. Is bound to a wheelchair. Lost six months while in a coma. And she can no longer speak. I wouldn't be opposed to giving her family a lot more than 8 million dollars.
 
+Evan Sheiman I meant the additional money, over and above the $8m, which was meant to punish KFC in a way that they would actually feel the pinch and remember it
 
What a horrible thing to happen to this child. Further reinforces my belief in shutting down these s**t shops - everywhere. They are poisoning children with all the chemical additives, creating health problems for adults with excessive sodium levels, and contributing to a worldwide problem of obesity.
 
+Farhad Divecha I know, I'm just saying if they did award more than 8 million dollars I don't see any problem with that going directly to the girl's family. Courts routinely add in punitive damages and those funds go to the victims. It's a means to discourage those with deep pockets from committing torts.
 
+Euro Maestro true. Though, I read a study about how a lot of societal forces come into play and often stop juries and judges from awarding huge sums of money to individuals.

However, if the money went to a charity, they might not be as reluctant to punish the corporation with an amount proportional to its size.
 
easy solution for all possible future victims: just don't eat crap.
 
Punishing large corporations for greed and irresponsibility? I'm guessing so
 
No +Farhad Divecha I think you misunderstood my question. Clearly punitive damages to punish large corporations for greed and irresponsibility is legal, it is also common practice. The awards however are always given to the victim. I don't know that there is any existing legal mechanism to grant the awards to a third party.
 
+Farhad Divecha I'm all in favor of the idea of a punitive sum going to someone besides the victim. I just think the whole charity issue makes it complicated. Perhaps it should go to the state.
 
Possibly. The main thing, though, is that the wrong-doers should feel it. Otherwise it's like punishing a child by saying he can't have broccoli tonight!
 
That is disgusting. There need to be laws against restaurants being allowed to pull this kind of crap.
 
I think 8 million is fine as long as they also criminally prosecute the employees on-shift at the time. Money is a good punishment for the corporation as an entity, but I bet other KFC employees would really think twice if they knew they'd personally face 15 years in prison for such misdeeds.
 
+Daniel Buchner I've heard some horror stories from people that work in the industry in terms of what goes on.
 
Actually, I used to work in a local chicken shop when I was a kid. All the stories are true. First of all, I would never willingly eat in any place where teenagers are preparing the food. I realize they're not all bad, but a high percentage of them really don't care about anything regarding the job or their responsibilities, no more than I did when I was a kid.

Industrial food? There was a study done on the food served in the trains in France, it found some high percentage of fecal matter in it. On the other hand, I ate in a place near the house where the owner prepared the food in an open kitchen. He coughed into his hand and then continued stirring the goulache.

Even when we only eat at home, I used to live across from a Monoprix supermarket. One day, during a delivery of meat, one of the carcases fell into the gutter. It was put back on the rack and rolled right in.
 
+Randy Resnick Thanks for sharing. Yes, I've seen a couple of abuses too and some of the stories I've heard from people that work in restaurants were from people a little older than teenagers.
 
I think the most dangerous thing is problems with the "chaîne de froid", the refrigeration from suppliers to the store or restaurant. I once got very ill in a 5 star hotel in Tunisia, bad egg or something like that. No one wants to throw food away, bad or not.
 
+Random Person the problem is that there are most certainly laws, government regulations, and even KFC corporate policies against this kind of behavior. That's why, while punitive, monetary damages are well-deserved, you can be dealing with one or a group of bad employees who disregard all laws and procedures. This is why criminal prosecution is necessary, because unless you show the employees they are responsible for their disregard for laws and regulations, no amount of punishment issued to the detached parent corporation will affect their behavior.

Let's imagine you were able to sue KFC out of business. Guess what, if that reckless employee just walked down the street to work at the next fast food joint and started doing the same thing there, you would be back at square one. Make sense?
 
+Daniel Buchner While there is some truth to what you say, remember that when a corporation is hit with a huge fine to pay the corporation will also seek to address the issue with the employees responsible. It's not like they're going to be let totally off the hook.
 
+Euro Maestro true, but I guarantee seeing/hearing an irresponsible go to jail for a long time for hurting someone is going to have infinitely more affect on people's behavior than some easily-forgotten corporate training seminar that lasts a day or two.
 
Punitives to charity---Yes, a percentage of the punitive portion of damages awards can and do go to govts, depending on local rules. For example in Oregon, about 30% goes to the victim and to pay their lawyer. The rest goes to the state govt, mostly into a crime victims' aid fund.

No jail---No, people do not go to jail for these kinds of things. Jail is a punishment for some crimes, but this is civil, not criminal. This appears to be a personal injury, from negligence, a type of civil tort law, not criminal law. Different laws, different court rules, higher protections and standards of proof, and if criminal, sometimes the possibility of a jail term.

Why KFC went to trial and didn't settle---The article says KFC argued that the plaintiff did not prove causation, and that KFC intends to appeal on that. In a tort case for negligence, the plaintiff (victim) has the burden to prove that KFC caused the injury, (basically, that it was KFC food and not other food or from some other source), otherwise the plaintiff does not win. KFC apparently believes the victim could not prove it was KFC that caused it.
 
+Anne-Marie Clark Incorrect. Yes jail --- yes people go to jail for these things. If you knowingly neglect to follow established guidelines under Health and Safety codes and it causes someone to get sick or die, you absolutely can be you can be tried for criminal negligence.
 
In all fairness, I must add that food-related criminal negligence charges are rare. Usually such charges are only pursued in cases where a death has occurred and the reckless negligent behavior is clearly attributable to an individual or group of individuals.
 
+Daniel Buchner No, that's not accurate. This is a civil case. The remedy is money (called damages). No one will go to jail. The finding in civil cases is called liability, not guilt. The defendant would have to be charged with a crime before any of what you said would be true. Also, the entity KFC is the defendant here, not human individuals. Businesses do not "go to jail." Do not be confused by the use of the word "negligence" in two difference contexts.
 
+Daniel Buchner What you just added about rarity (not just re food) and death is true. But ignoring safety codes is not enough. But this KFC case does not involve criminal charges. It's a civil tort case.
 
+Daniel Buchner I was replying to your comment above, which is not accurate, where you started with the word "Incorrect." Those are other cases, not this one. This type is much more common.
 
+Anne-Marie Clark Correct, non-criminal food poisoning cases are much more common, thus I made sure to mention that in a prior comment: "In all fairness, I must add that food-related criminal negligence charges are rare." - I guess we agree then?

Regardless, I believe criminal charges in such cases of clear negligence would be infinitely more effective at preventing this sort of thing. People really don't care if some unseen parent corporation that owns the restaurant they work at loses a few million, or if they have to sit through some 4 hour re-training as a result of a court case.

You know what really changes people's behavior? When Steve gets to work the next day and doesn't see Billy, the dude who worked next to him, ignored all the food safety rules, and made people sick. When they ask "Where's Billy?" and the shift manager replies "Billy got sent up river to do a nickel at the pen." --> you bet your a$$ Steve is going to start washing that chicken like his life depends on it...literally.
 
+Daniel Buchner Crim negligence, or any business-related crime where an individual is bodily harmed, is extremely difficult to prove, much less send someone to jail. And who would you send? The teen at the KFC counter? For life for a death after eating there? Prove it was the kid, that kid. Prove he/she had the intent that rises to criminally negligent intent. Jail the corporate executives? Prove that the manuals and safety procedures mean nothing, and that those execs had the crim intent to let their customers die, instead of run a business. Jail some middle manager guys who weren't there and don't make the rules?

The ones who are convicted do go to jail. But we still have cases like this. So it didn't really do what you said, did it?
 
Obviously you'd have to prove any allegation, but I'm willing to bet with nearly every store filled with video cameras, some guy that continually drops food on the floor, then uses it anyway, would eventually get caught.

Also, what's this about life in prison? I never said that - you're being a bit over-dramatic don't you think?
 
+Daniel Buchner I'm a lawyer. I'm explaining the way the law works, because you made inaccurate statements above. Your video idea won't "prove" what you think it does. As I said, there is no possibility that anyone in this KFC tort case will go to jail.
 
+Daniel Buchner You're absolutely right. However, this kind of stuff doesn't seem to stop happening. Ever.

Take this for example:

Michigan teen finds piece of finger in Arby's sandwich
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/05/17/arbys-finger-cut-teenage-sandwich.html?cmp=rss

"There have been a number of incidents in recent years in which a restaurant worker's accidentally severed flesh found its way into someone's food.

In 2006, a diner at a TGI Friday's in Indiana found part of a kitchen worker's finger on his hamburger. The year before that, a North Carolina man bit into what he thought was candy in his frozen yogurt only to find it, too, belonged to a worker who had had an accident with a food-processing machine."

Either nobody has the balls to go through with criminally prosecuting these companies (for their complete disregard of worker safety, sanitary practices, etc) or there's a lot of bribery going on in the legal circles. How about setting an example, to scare all the other companies into getting their act together?

P.S. - This post is interesting (even though it's only 3 people commenting now). I'm reading the rest of the comments now.
 
+Random Person I think your link about this latest Arby's incident actually underscores what I've been saying throughout this thread. I would hope any reasonable individual would concede that Arby's corporate was probably as shocked as the next person to learn that an employee literally left her station and told no one that she had cut her finger over the food she was preparing. Point being: there's a limit to where the company is at fault, and where it becomes the responsibility of the employees to follow basic rules of common decency and safety provided for them on countless charts and notices all over the work place. (Wash your hands, hair net notice, etc, etc)

There seems to be a tendency in the US these days to immediately believe every incident is the fault of a company, entity, or gap in legislation - as a society we're beginning to divorce the individual from personal responsibility. We fool ourselves into believing that somehow, if we just craft the perfect law or impose a new regulation, that we can stop these freak occurrences - I hate to break it to everyone: life shows up regardless, and people do stupid things.
 
Thanks +Random Person for the Arby's article.

+Daniel Buchner I understand your argument. Even if we were to accept your idea of the individuals involved being held personally responsible, why would you try to argue that the company is not also responsible in its management and supervisory capacity. 
 
+Euro Maestro that completely depends on whether or not the company and manager on duty actually did anything wrong! Doing something wrong doesn't just mean they were there when something bad happens, it means acted improperly, violated company policy, or broke the law.

I don't accept blindly applying blame to a company or manager who followed reasonable procedures and did nothing to cause an incident. Do you hold the view that the company should be punished even if they had all the signs posted they should and had their employees do the training sessions the law requires? It's almost as if people these days just blame to blame without analyzing who was actually responsible - the individual who acted recklessly is most often the cause, not a bunch of people at an office hundreds of miles away who believe their employees are doing the right thing.
 
+Daniel Buchner Legally the company has responsibility for the actions of its employees. I guess I don't understand why you want to totally absolve the company of any responsibility when they clearly have a management and supervisory role in this.
 
+Euro Maestro I'd blame the company if, for instance, they: did not provide employees the required food safety training, neglected to post required safety materials in correct locations, had faulty equipment (refrigerator not cold, etc), ignored previous bad behavior of an employee...you get the picture. The idea that respondeat superior should be used against a company that did none of those improper things and simply was unlucky to have one employee who decided to disregard their duty is ridiculous.

It makes me laugh and scratch my head that demanding evidence of proximate wrong doing before blanket application of judgement is a stance that lands me in the minority on this issue. I just figured rooting out and punishing those who actually had a reasonable involvement in wrongdoing was the point, but apparently for most here, simply owning the building would be enough to apply blame to a company.

Do remember, if a company is faithful in doing all the things I listed above that it's supposed to, a lawsuit for a ton of money and public shaming assures only one thing: harm to the jobs and livelihoods of employees across the company who diligently perform their duties and had nothing to do with one person's poor judgement.
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