Lawsuit: Restaurant Gave Woman To-Go Cup Of Degreaser Instead Of Green Tea

Posted at 2:09 PM, Jun 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-14 14:09:00-04

FLORENCE, Ky (LEX 18) A Kentucky couple is suing the restaurant chain, First Watch, claiming that an employee at the restaurant gave a pregnant woman a cup filled with degreaser when she ordered a green tea to-go.

The incident happened on June 11, 2017. Traci Hall had been eating at the First Watch on Mall Road with her parents. After lunch, she ordered a cup of green tea to go. The server requested that a busboy get the green tea. The cup had a lid on it and the busboy gave Hall a straw. 

While walking in the parking lot, Hall took a sip of what she thought was tea her to-go cup. The lawsuit said she then felt a "painful, burning sensation in her mouth and throat and the liquid had a horrible chemical taste". She spat out the remaining liquid in her mouth. She then went back inside and asked the server what was in the cup. The server found the busboy who filled it and asked where he got it. 

Traci, the server, and the busboy all walked into the kitchen where the busboy pointed to the spigot on the wall next to the drink refill station. Another server saw where the busboy was pointing and said: "that’s degreaser!".

Hall started shaking and was panicked. The server got Hall a drink of water and asked her if she was feeling okay. Hall asked someone to get the information about the degreaser off the packaging so she could find out what to do.

An employee of the restaurant identified the degreaser as a brand called "Greasestrip Plus." The lawsuit said that this product consists of sodium hydroxide, which the lawsuit claims is a powerful solvent used to clean commercial cooking equipment. The product information warned not to induce vomiting if the degreaser was ingested. 

The server encouraged Hall to drink water to try and dilute the chemical. Several servers apologized to Hall for what happened. 

Hall worried she and the baby would experience harmful effects due to the exposure to degreaser, so she went to the emergency room at St. Elizabeth Hospital and then to the Triage Center at St. Elizabeth. The lawsuit said she was put on a baby monitor, but the monitor did not reveal any detectable problems with the baby. 

Three months later, Hall delivered a baby boy and the child "appears to be developing normally", according to the suit. Doctors have not been able to detect any problems that can be directly attributed to Traci’s ingestion of sodium hydroxide, but Hall is still worried about possible long-term effects to her or her son, according to the suit.