Two Taco Bell customers say they suffered severe burns when a Dallas store manager poured boiling water on them while complaining about an incomplete order, a lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit against the restaurant chain, published Tuesday by one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, alleges Brittany Davis and a minor identified only as CT had permanent skin damage and a lifelong change in their appearance from the incident. .
The lawsuit, filed in a Dallas County court on July 13, alleges that Taco Bell and employees at the restaurant demonstrated gross negligence and hiring negligence that triggered the alleged attack.
In a statement, Taco Bell said it takes employee and customer safety seriously and has been in contact with the franchise owner and operator described in the suit. The company declined further comment citing the pending lawsuits.
The parent company of Taco Bell Yum! Brands and a regional franchisee, North Texas Bells, also named in the lawsuit, did not respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit also names Jane and John Doe, workers who have not been able to identify the plaintiffs. Taco Bell and North Texas Bells did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the employees.
The Dallas Police Department said it was investigating the incident after the clients, identified by attorney Paul Grinke as Davis and her niece, reported being burned.
The department said a Taco Bell employee also claimed to have been attacked. Grinke denied the accusation, saying, “It’s hard to imagine a scenario where it would be okay to pour boiling water over a female minor.”
The incident happened on June 17 when the pair failed to receive the correct order at a Dallas Taco Bell and went through the drive-thru a second and third time in failed attempts to get their order repaired, according to the lawsuit.
After being turned away, the two parked and walked to the venue’s dining room, which was closed at the time, the suit said. An employee unlocked the door, let her in and locked it behind him.
When they asked to correct their order, the employees refused, an employee challenged CT to a fight, and then a manager they hadn’t spoken to poured a bucket of hot water over the two, moistened CT’s face and picked up the water on the chest of both plaintiffs, the suit said.
The two tried to flee, but were stopped by the locked door, the suit said. By this time, the manager had returned with a second bucket of hot water, but they escaped for a second attack, the filing claims.
Restaurant workers followed the injured couple outside and laughed, taunted and clapped at them before they could drive away, the petitioners allege.
Relatives rushed Davis and CT to a hospital, where some of Davis’s skin came off her clothes while she was being treated and she ended up with deep burns to her chest and stomach, the suit said. Both were transferred to Parkland Memorial Hospital for additional treatment.
The lawsuit alleges that Davis also suffered an injury to her brain function, which caused at least 10 seizures before reaching Parkland.
CT had burns to her face, chest, legs, arms and abdomen, according to the lawsuit, which said her mother had removed mirrors from their home because her daughter “couldn’t see her own face.”
“The burns on her face will cause discoloration and scarring that will affect her self-image forever,” the lawsuit said.
The claim claims more than $1 million in costs and damages.
“All of this could have been avoided if Taco Bell had given human decency and customer service more than a few dollars it would have cost to get the plaintiffs’ order right,” the lawsuit alleged.
Crump and Grinke said they believe companies have a responsibility to hire people who respect safety and security in the workplace.
“Brittany and CT have not only suffered physical trauma from the burns,” the lawyers said in a statement, “but they will now live with the psychological trauma associated with an attack like this.”
Tim Stelloh contributed.