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Cracker Barrel ordered to pay man $9.4M after he’s served cleaning liquid

William Cronnon developed gastrointestinal issues after a server at a store in Marion County, Tennessee, accidentally gave him a mixture of water and Eco-San, his attorney said.
Cracker Barrel Restaurant and Old Country Store entrance.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is an American chain of restaurants with a Southern country theme.Jeff Greenberg / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
/ Source: NBC News

A Tennessee man was awarded more than $9 million after he was served cleaning liquid instead of water at a Marion County Cracker Barrel.

William Cronnon was dining at the restaurant in April 2014 for lunch when a waitress accidentally refilled his glass with a mixture of water and Eco-San, a commercial-grade bleach, according to a lawsuit and press release by Cronnon’s attorney.

“Plaintiff then ingested what he thought was ice water, only to immediately realize that it was not ice water, but was some chemical that caused a burning sensation in his mouth and esophagus,” according to the lawsuit, which was shared online by local news station WTVC of Chattanooga.

“It was later discovered that the server who attended to the Plaintiff on that occasion actually served the Plaintiff a chemical, caustic substance that was being used as a cleaner in the kitchen area, which substance is known as Eco-San.”

Thomas Greer, Cronnon’s attorney, said his client went to the emergency room for treatment, according to the press release. He developed gastrointestinal issues like regular cramping, bloating, diarrhea and reflux plain shortly after the incident.

Greer said Cronnon’s injuries were “severe and persistent enough” that he could no longer work, the press release states.

Greer could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The case went to trial where a jury awarded Cronnon compensatory damages totaling $4.3 million and punitive damages of $5 million.

Cracker Barrel said in a statement: “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.”

A spokesperson said the restaurant was considering its options but was “glad this matter is behind us so we can better focus on caring for our guests and employees around the country.”

According to NBC affiliate WRCB of Chattanooga, it’s unlikely Cronnon will get to keep the full amount awarded due to a state law that puts a cap on economic damages. His attorney told the news station that the amount will likely be lowered to a little over $6 million.

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