Florida Woman Files Suit After Liquid Nitrogen Served in Her Drink Causes Health Complications

A Florida woman has filed a lawsuit after having her gall bladder and parts of her stomach removed after a waiter put liquid nitrogen in her drink. 

The woman recently filed a lawsuit against The Don CeSar Hotel in St Pete Beach, Florida after a birthday meal last year. 

The woman said she went to dinner at the Maritana Grille, on the hotel premises, with one of her best friends on November 11, 2018.

They had just finished their dinner when the woman said she saw a waiter pour a liquid on another customer’s dessert that caused it to “smoke.” After her friend told the waiter that it looked cool, she said he poured the liquid nitrogen into the two women’s glasses of water.

In her lawsuit, the woman says that she became seriously ill “within seconds” of drinking the water with the liquid nitrogen. She never suspected that drinking the water containing the liquid nitrogen was dangerous as “he had just poured it on a dessert.”

An ambulance took the woman to the hospital, where she remained in the intensive care unit for days. She ended up having to have surgery to remove her gallbladder.

According to the lawsuit, the woman also had to have parts of her stomach removed after tissue had been burned by the extremely cold temperature of the liquid nitrogen.

The woman will have lifelong digestion issues and lost 25 pounds as a result.

Liquid nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, clear liquefied form of nitrogen that remains liquid at temperatures of -320 degrees Fahrenheit. It is used as a freezing agent in food preparation and preservation, to process dry herbs and spices and to rapidly chill beverages, as well as for a smoke effect in beverages or foods to “enhance presentation and consumer appeal,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However, the FDA has warned that liquid nitrogen can be extremely dangerous if consumed and must not be used in ways that make food unsafe for consumers.

“Both liquid nitrogen and dry ice can cause severe damage to skin and internal organs if mishandled or accidentally ingested due to the extremely low temperatures they can maintain,” according to the FDA. “As such, liquid nitrogen and dry ice should not be directly consumed or allowed to directly contact exposed skin.”

In August last year, the FDA issued an advisory warning consumers and retailers of the potential for serious injury from eating, drinking, or handling food products prepared by adding liquid nitrogen immediately before consumption.

This is because the liquid nitrogen “may not completely evaporate before reaching the consumer or may leave the product at an extremely low temperature, posing a significant risk of injury.”

Dining out at a restaurant has the potential to be disastrous when it comes to dangerous ingredients and potential allergens. Even what seems like minor mistakes can have big consequences.

While the circumstances of this case involving liquid nitrogen might be rare, serious injuries and illnesses can and do occur at restaurants. Other issues that can turn your dining experience into a nightmare include:

  • Food poisoning
  • Undeclared allergens
  • Foreign materials in food, like plastic or glass
  • Burns
  • Choking and improper CPR efforts

The above issues can be quite traumatic and result in serious injuries that can lead to hefty medical bills, lost wages, and physical and emotional pain and suffering. Let’s say someone has a peanut allergy and orders a dessert that they are told does not contain nuts. If they are served the wrong dessert they could suffer a life-threatening allergic reaction, leading to hospitalization. Restaurant owners invite guests onto their premises. Therefore, they are responsible for any foreseeable injuries or damages. In order to hold them legally accountable for any injuries, the damage must have been predictable or preventable. If a server knowingly serves a beverage at a scalding hot temperature, the injury to a patron might be foreseeable. However, if a patron spills their water and another person slips and falls within a few minutes, they restaurant may not be liable as the event was unforeseeable, and the staff just did not have enough time to prevent the mishap. 

When it comes to premises liability cases, there are important steps to follow. We recommend contacting our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible so that we can Immediately report your injury to the restaurant, so that they can file an injury report. When you don’t report your injury right away, it becomes easier for the restaurant to cover up or deny the damage. Whenever possible, we recommend taking photos or video of the scene of the accident, so that everything is documented.

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