A jury decided that Cracker Barrel has to give $9.4 million in damages to William Cronnon after the Tennessee man was served bleach instead of water eight years ago. Cronnon said that the incident caused him to have internal injuries and he is unable to work.
Reports show that 12 people deliberated from Jan. 4 to the 6 and decided whether or not Cracker Barrel was at fault for Cronnon drinking the bleach. The jury determined that the restaurant did show negligence and recklessness.
Cracker Barrel said that the incident was isolated and that they are disappointed that they lost the case. The company is expected to pay $4.3 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
They released a statement and said, “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.”
The restaurant added that while they were disappointed with the verdict, they were glad to put this issue behind them and focus on their customers and stores across the country.
After the verdict, Cronnon’s lawyer, Thomas Greer from Bailey & Greer law firm, released a statement. The statement said, “We are very happy that the jury found for our client. He is a good, honest person, and he must live with the fallout of Cracker Barrel’s dangerous policy for the rest of his life. It was our honor to help him get justice all these years later.”
The lawsuit against Cracker Barrel was originally filed in 2015.
According to reports, the bleach incident happened back in 2014. Cronnon stopped at a Cracker Barrel for lunch and was served what he thought was a glass of water. It turns out that the glass was actually filled with a mixture of water and bleach and the Tennessee man had to go to the hospital.
Cracker Barrel said that the restaurant keeps pitchers filled with water and bleach so they can easily clean the soda machines. Greer alleged that the pitchers were “unmarked” and that employees were not properly trained. He said that led to the incident.
“Plaintiff William Cronnon ingested the beverage, which turned out to be a chemical, caustic substance known as Eco-San,” an amended lawsuit read. “As a direct and proximate result of the incident, Plaintiff William Cronnon sustained severe and permeant injuries which required medical attention.”
The Tennessee man suffered from gastrointestinal issues after he drank the bleach, including diarrhea, bloating, cramping and reflux pain shortly after the incident. He continues to suffer from many of these injuries, and Cronnon also added that the bleach made him unable to work.
While in the hospital, Cracker Barrel sent a safety data sheet for Eco-San to Cronnon’s doctors. Greer said in court that this meant the restaurant “knew immediately after the incident exactly what happened.”
Court documents show that the restaurant denied all wrongdoing.
According to Tennessee law, William Cronnon will not be receiving the whole $9.4 million. The law limits how much civil damages a person can receive, so Cronnon can only get around $750,000 for his eight-year lawsuit.
Thomas Greer spoke after the trial and said that his client suffered enough and deserves all the money, but according to Cronnon he would rather give away the money if he could go back in time and never drink the bleach.
“This is an unfair law that only affects people who are seriously injured,” Greer told WTVC. “And so, he will not even receive what he’s entitled to.”