He sued for $150,000, but a jury decided that William Cronnon deserved way, way more after a serious blunder at Cracker Barrel. A jury in Tennessee awarded Cronnon a total of $9.4 million because a waitress served him a glass of chemical kitchen cleaner instead of water, reports Restaurant Business. The mistake happened in 2014 when Cronnon's waitress refilled his water glass from a pitcher. When Cronnon drank the chemical called Eco-San, he immediately felt a burning sensation in his mouth and esophagus, per CNN. The 68-year-old's attorney says his client suffered "severe permanent injuries," including cramping, diarrhea, and "reflux pain after meals," per the Washington Post.
The jury awarded Cronnon compensatory damages of $4.3 million and punitive damages of $5 million. However, it's possible he will ultimately receive less. For one thing, Cracker Barrel is expected to appeal. For another, a state law limits economic damages to $750,000, notes the Post. That could wipe out about $3.6 million from the first sum, though the $5 million in punitive damages could stand as is. Cracker Barrel admits the mistake but objects to the size of the penalty.
"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," it says in a statement. Cronnon made the case that the restaurant where he ate didn't provide adequate training to keep employees from storing unmarked chemicals in unmarked containers. Eco-San, used in industrial dishwashers, has a "high concentration of chlorinating agent" and is described as both a sanitizer and stain remover on the company website. (Read more Cracker Barrel stories.)