On 24 October 2005, the Plaintiff’s father, Mr Samaan purchased a KFC ‘Twister’ wrap at its Villawood Store. Ms Monika Samaan (the Plaintiff) was just seven years old when she consumed the Twister wrap and subsequently became dangerously ill, contracting Salmonella Encephalopathy (“Salmonella Poisoning”).
After eating the wrap, the Plaintiff, who had shared the wrap with members of her family, was the first to get sick and began vomiting in bed. Her symptoms continued for many days, and every member of her family who had consumed the Twister suffered from salmonella poisoning.
Unfortunately, the Plaintiff suffered from severe brain damage and spastic quadriplegia as a result of her illness. The Plaintiff’s ongoing disabilities include severe cognitive impairment, incontinence, severe motor impairment and impairment of her communication skills. She is wheelchair bound for the rest of her life and will never enjoy the normal life that was expected for her prior to contracting salmonella poisoning.
The Plaintiff issued legal proceedings against KFC in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. She alleged that the Twister product was unsafe for consumption and had a safety defect. The Plaintiff also claimed that KFC sold a chicken product that they had ought to have known to be contaminated or unsafe and failed to take measures to ensure that it was safe for human consumption.
The central issue in this case was whether it could be established (on the balance of probabilities) that the source of the Plaintiff’s salmonella poisoning was the Twister wrap that Mr Samaan purchased from KFC Villawood.
Justice Rothman found KFC liable, as it was more likely than not that the Twister wrap was the carrier of the bacteria. There were a number of factors that were considered:
- The Twister wrap was the only common meal eaten by the Samaan family and the Plaintiff’s grandmother was the only one who did not eat the wrap, and did not contract salmonella poisoning during the relatively short incubation (or development) period.
- If there was another reasonable source of the illness, then perhaps the Court would not have been so convinced of the Defendant’s liability.
- He noted that (based on oral evidence by KFC employees) that it was more likely than not that KFC’s safety/hygiene guidelines were not followed by employees, resulting in cross contamination after the chicken was cooked. This amounted to a breach of duty of care.
- If KFC employees had followed its health and safety procedures, it would have been virtually impossible to contract the salmonella poisoning from the Twister wrap.
Ms Samaan was awarded $8 million in damages.
Food poisoning symptoms usually resolve with time, however sometimes, like in Ms Samaan’s case, individuals can experience significant disruption in their lives. If you are unfortunate enough to have contracted food poisoning which has caused a medical condition such as Ms Samaan’s, you may be entitled to make a compensation claim against the individual or establishment whose negligence caused the incident.
If you would like more information about what you can do, call us on 1800 25 1800 or make an online enquiry for a free, no obligation consultation.
Written by Vladana Vracar.
Vladana Vracar is a Solicitor in Julie Mahony’s Practice Group. Vladana assists Julie with a variety of compensation claims including medical negligence cases, public liability claims, and motor vehicle accidents.