Family wins $40,000 over urine-tainted food

/ Source: The Associated Press

A police officer and his family won $40,000 in their lawsuit against a restaurant that served them food tainted by an employee's spit and urine.

A jury on Friday ruled in favor of Sidney police Officer Keith Andrew, whose two sons, then 4 and 7, were sickened by the food they ate at a KFC/Taco Bell in October 2005. Sidney is a town of about 6,000 in western Nebraska.

The younger boy became violently ill with gastroenteritis and dehydration, vomited for hours and was forced to spend time in a hospital, the family's lawsuit said.

The lawsuit, filed last year in Cheyenne County District Court, named the restaurant's owner, North Platte-based Mid Plains Food and Lodging.

The jury found the restaurant negligent, said the family's attorney Andy Snyder. He said of the restaurant owner, "I'd advise them to get a better class of employees."

A KFC spokesman, Rick Maynard, said KFC is committed to the highest levels of food safety.

"Our franchisee does not agree with the court's verdict, and they are looking at their legal options," Maynard said Monday.

Workers who saw a fellow employee taint the family's food reported it to management, but the managers didn't inform the family, the lawsuit alleged.

The suit also alleged that Andrew, his wife and their children were victims of an employee scheme that targeted police officers.

"Employees maintained 'special servings' of food reserved for ... officers," the lawsuit said. "The 'special servings' had been urinated in or spit in by KFC/Taco Bell employees."

The employee accused of urinating and spitting in the Andrew family's food, Casey Diedrich, pleaded guilty last year to violating the Nebraska Pure Food Act and fined $100, according to court records. The prosecution was for the same incident described in the lawsuit.

A company spokesman said last year that Diedrich eventually was fired for missing work but not for any of the incidents the lawsuit cited.

There was no listing under Diedrich's name in Nebraska.