A fast food giant was ordered to pay $8.3 million (Rs 44 crore) to an Australian girl who suffered severe brain damage and was paralysed after eating a chicken wrap. Monika Samaan (in pic) was seven when she suffered salmonella encephalopathy — a brain injury linked to food poisoning that also left her with a blood infection and septic shock — in October 2005.
Other family members also fell ill and they claimed Samaan’s injuries, which include severe cognitive, motor and speech impairment and spastic quadriplegia, were caused by a ‘Twister’ wrap containing chicken and salad from a Sydney outlet. The New South Wales Supreme Court ruled in the family’s favour a week ago and on Friday ordered them to pay the girl Aus$8 million in damages plus legal costs.
In a statement, the family’s lawyer George Vlahakis said they were relieved the battle was over. “Monika’s severe brain damage and severe disability has already exhausted the very limited resources of the family,” he said.
“Monika is now a big girl and they are finding it increasingly difficult to lift her and to look after her basic needs as well as look after Monika’s younger siblings. The compensation ordered is very much needed. They (the fast food chain) have to date been determined that Monika does not receive a cent.”
Last week the fast food chain said it believed the evidence showed they did not cause the tragedy and indicated it will appeal the decision but is yet to do so.
During the trial, Justice Stephen Rothman said the chicken became contaminated “because of the failure of one or more employees of the company” to follow proper preparation rules, which he described as “negligent”.
Fast food chain says
“We feel deeply for Monika and the Samaan family however we also have a responsibility to defend our reputation as a provider of safe, high quality food,” the fast food chain's Australian branch's chief corporate affairs officer Sally Glover said.