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Utah Eatery in Toxic Tea Incident Had Other Chemical Burn: Lawyer

SALT LAKE CITY — The attorney for a woman who nearly died after unknowingly drinking tea laced with a chemical cleaning compound at a Utah restaurant said Thursday an employee at the eatery burned herself a month earlier on the same substance. Family attorney Paxton Guymon's comments came at a news conference that also was attended by the burned woman's husband, who said she is recovering but suffering from nightmares as she relives the incident. Guymon said he learned about the previous burn during his investigation into what led to the tea incident at Dickey's Barbecue in a Salt Lake City suburb. He said the Dickey's employee burned her tongue July 5 after she stuck her finger in a sugar container to test if it had any of the chemical cleaner, and then licked her finger. The worker's tongue started bleeding and blisters formed, Guymon said, adding she still is not back to normal.

"To me it means that the company was on notice that there was a hazardous substance that wasn't properly labeled, that wasn't properly controlled," the attorney said. "And that things should have and could have been done to prevent my client, Mrs. Harding, from being injured." The employee quit her job at the restaurant Aug. 9, the day before 67-year-old Jan Harding of Sandy took a sip of the sweetened iced tea and suffered deep burns in her upper esophagus, Guymon said.

Image:
Jim Harding, center, speaks about his wife, Jan Harding, during a news conference Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in Salt Lake City, while his son Scott Harding, left, and attorney Paxton Guymon look on. Rick Bowmer / AP

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— The Associated Press