Video released Friday by attorneys representing two customers suing Taco Bell appears to show a person behind the counter of a Dallas store swinging a bucket of steaming liquid at them.
The pair say they suffered serious burns when a store manager poured the water on them as they complained about an incomplete order, their lawsuit claims.
The security video, which has no audio and was released in an edited compilation of cuts and in an unedited hourlong version, appears to show the worker pour the water as words were being exchanged between the customers and employees.
The video was provided by the customers’ legal team, civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Paul A. Grinke, who obtained it through a court order.
“Taco Bell management and employees’ actions in these videos are violent, callous, and inexcusable,” Grinke said in a statement Friday. “C.T. and her aunt, Brittany, restaurant employees themselves, calmly ask for the food they paid for with their with hard-earned money. Rather than simply resolve the concern, the Taco Bell employees taunt a 16 year old, and the manager ambushes them with scalding water.”
The lawsuit, publicized this week by Crump, claims Brittany Davis and a minor identified in the suit as C.T. were left with permanent skin damage and a lifelong change to their appearance from the incident. C.T. is Davis’ niece, according to Grinke.
Images said to show the plaintiffs after the confrontation show large blistering and severe discoloration. The photos were released Friday with the video.
The suit, which was filed July 13 in a Dallas County district court, alleges Taco Bell and workers at the restaurant displayed gross negligence and hiring negligence that set in motion the alleged attack. It seeks more than $1 million in costs and damages.
In a statement Wednesday, Taco Bell said it takes the safety of workers and customers seriously and has been in touch with franchise owner and operator described in the suit. The company declined to comment further at the time, citing pending litigation, but did respond to a request for its response to the video release.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in Taco Bell restaurants," the chain said. "We take this very seriously and are working with our local franchisee to investigate."
Taco Bell’s parent company Yum! Brands, and a regional franchisee entity, North Texas Bells, which are also named in the suit, did not respond to previous requests for comment, and the same was the case when informed of coverage based on that security video. Taco Bell and North Texas Bells also did not respond to requests asking for comment from two unnamed employees listed on the suit.
The June 17 incident occurred after Davis, C.T. and another family member received an incorrect order and went through a drive-thru a second and third time to try to get it fixed, according to the lawsuit. When they were unsuccessful, they walked up to the locked door and were let into the dining room, the suit stated.
After a discussion, the employees refused to correct the order and a manager, who had not been involved in the talks, came out and poured a bucket of hot water on the two, dousing C.T.’s face and getting the water on the chests of both plaintiffs, the suit said.
Video of the encounter shows C.T. and Davis hit with water as one of the customers, identified by one of their attorneys as Davis, crosses through an opening in the counter that appears to lead to the kitchen.
C.T. appears to follow, but they don’t get past the back edge of the counter — and it’s not clear if that was their intention — before the water hits them, the video shows. The view of the pair, including their arms and faces, is obscured by the angle of the cameras.
The pair tried to flee and were briefly stalled by the door that had been locked behind them, but escaped before the manager could return with a second bucket of water, the filing alleges.
Davis and her niece were rushed to a hospital, and were later transferred to a second hospital for additional treatment, the suit states.
C.T. had burns to her face, chest, legs, arms and stomach. Davis also had burns to her chest and stomach, and suffered injury to her brain function, which triggered multiple seizures, according to the suit.
The Dallas Police Department has said it is investigating the incident.