Cracker Barrel ordered to pay $9.4M to man served chemical instead of water

Cracker Barrel was ordered to pay $9.4 million to a man who was served a toxic chemical instead of water in April 2014. 

The jury came to a decision quickly on Jan. 10 after being sent to deliberate the civil damages that should be awarded to the man.

“The jury returned a verdict for compensatory damages of $4.3 million in just 30 minutes — one of the fastest verdicts we have ever seen — and awarded punitive damages of $5 million after only 10 minutes of additional deliberation,” Thomas Greer, an attorney for William Cronnon, told CNN.

The attorney said the company knew right after the incident that Cronnon was served the chemical Eco-San, which is used to clean the soda machine. When the man who drank the chemical went to the hospital, Cracker Barrel sent the chemical’s safety data sheet. 

However, the company said in trial they did not know what chemical made the plaintiff sick. Since the incident, the plaintiff has developed “regular cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and reflux pain after meals,” requiring costly medical treatment. 

“The speed of the verdict, combined with an amount in excess of what we asked, speaks to just how dangerous the Cracker Barrel policy was,” Greer said.

Tennessee law on civil damages could cause the reward to be lowered, according to CNN.

“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,” Cracker Barrel said in a statement.

“Although we are considering our options with respect to this verdict, we are glad this matter is behind us so we can better focus on caring for our guests and employees around the country,” it added.