Restaurant, woman settle lawsuit over coffee laced with cleaner

By Kyla Asbury | Nov 19, 2009

CHARLESTON -- A woman who filed a lawsuit in 2007 against a Charleston restaurant after drinking coffee containing a cleaning chemical has settled.

Pamela Susan Toney filed the lawsuit on June 11, 2007, in Kanawha Circuit Court against First Watch in Charleston.

In the complaint, Toney claimed in June 2005 she and her son went to First Watch, ordered coffee and a carafe of coffee was brought to their table.

Toney claimed that approximately 15 minutes later after she had drunk two cups of the coffee, two First Watch employees approached her and advised her that the coffee had mistakenly included a commercial urn cleaner called Urnex, which is used to remove residue and coffee stains from coffee pots and urns.

According to the suit, an employee emptied a package of Urnex into a pot of water and left it unattended near the coffeemaker, and another employee mistakenly poured the solution into the coffeemaker to brew the pot of coffee.

Upon request, the employees gave Toney a package of Urnex so she could read what to do if ingested. Management also called the makers of Urnex and the poison control center to help determine what to do.

Toney was advised the Urnex would not kill her, but there would be side effects. The suit said she was advised to "drink a lot of water for the next several days."

For the first 24 hours, Toney claimed she experienced diarrhea, vomiting and acute abdominal cramps, as well as difficulty ingesting food and drink and suffered an outbreak of mouth sores.

She claimed she sought medical care for other irritation and discomfort and underwent extensive medical testing to examine the extent of damage to her gastro-intestinal tract.

Toney claimed to have suffered from ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, esophageal erosion, mouth sores, diarrhea, difficulty eating, weight loss and emotional distress as a result from drinking the Urnex, according to the suit.

Toney's attorney, Robert F. Williams, said he had four physicians prepared to testify that those problems were caused or made worse by the Urnex.

Toney was seeking compensation for her injuries. The settlement details are confidential.

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