A Texas woman and her niece are suing Taco Bell and its parent company after a manager at a Dallas restaurant threw boiling water on the pair scalding them over a dispute about an order.
The lawsuit alleges Brittany Davis and a minor identified as C.T in court documents were left with permanent physical and psychological damage after an unnamed Taco Bell manager dosed them with a bucket of hot water on June 17. The woman was retrieving another bucket of water as Davis and her niece tried to escape the locked dining room.
The Dallas Police Department said a Taco Bell employee also claimed to have been assaulted. The agency is investigating both complaints.
“There are two aggravated assault charges and one assault charge being investigated thus far,” a spokesperson of the department told McClatchy.
Several surveillance videos of the attack are online. None show a physical altercation between the customers and the restaurant employees.
Paul Grinke, one of the customers’ attorneys, denied the allegation and said: “It is hard to imagine a scenario where it would be okay to pour scalding water all over a female minor.”
Attorneys said the duo went inside the restaurant after trying to resolve an issue with their order in the drive-thru twice. The store had already closed, and an employee let them in. However, the employees refused to correct the $31 order, the lawsuit says.
Surveillance from the incident shows Davis and C.T. walking behind the counter as a manager the pair hadn’t spoken to causally approaches them and pours the steaming hot water in their faces and chests. The footage shows the woman and teenager fell back amid a cloud of steam, then braced themselves and started running.
The lawsuit alleges workers followed Davis and C.T. outside, taunted, laughed and clapped at them before they could get out of the parking lot. Another relative drove them to the hospital. Davis and C.T. felt like they were “burning from the inside out,” the complaint says. They sustained second and third degree burns to large portions of their bodies, the lawsuit says.
Davis had 10 seizures on her way to the hospital because of the trauma, her legal team said, along with deep burns to her chest and stomach.
C.T. ran naked into the emergency room after removing her clothes to minimize the burns. She was scalded in the face, chest, legs, arms and stomach. Her mother had to remove mirrors from their home because the teenager could not “bear to see her own face,” the lawsuit alleges.
“The burns on her face will cause discoloring and scarring that will forever impact her self-image,” the lawsuit says.
Davis and C.T. are seeking more than $1 million in damages. The pair is also suing the Taco Bell employees and regional franchisee entity, North Texas Bells. They alleged the workers displayed gross negligence, and the companies were negligent in their hiring practices making them susceptible to the attack.
“Our hearts break for these two victims whose lives are forever changed because of the horrific and damaging actions by the Taco Bell manager and the larger entities that failed to protect the safety of their customers,” said Grinke and attorney Ben Crump in a statement.”Not only did Brittany and C.T. suffer physical trauma because of the burns, but they will now live with the psychological trauma that comes with an attack like this. Corporations have a duty to employ quality and stable employees who hold safety as the highest priority.”
Taco Bell officials said in a statement to NBC News that it takes the safety of workers and customers seriously and has been in talks with the franchise owner and operator mentioned in the lawsuit. The company declined further comment because of pending litigation, according to NBC.
“All of this could have been prevented had Taco Bell placed human decency and customer service over a few dollars that it would have cost to get Plaintiffs’ order right,” the lawsuit alleged.