Wrong Order Kills Customer At Ruby Tuesday

UPDATE: Ruby Tuesday Says Man Ordered Fatal Crab Dish
The AJC reports that a 35-year-old man who was allergic to shellfish has died from eating the wrong entree at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Lovejoy, GA. Rodney Hawkins, a local rapper, went into anaphylactic shock after he ate crabmeat contained in a chicken dish. He had ordered the Chicken Fresco, but the Chicken Oscar was brought to him by mistake. He collapsed inside the restaurant. Details, inside…

The article says,

Emergency personnel arrived at Ruby Tuesday around 9:45 p.m., and Hawkins was pronounced dead at Southern Regional Hospital less than 30 minutes later.

No charges will be filed, Bankhead said. A call to the Lovejoy Ruby Tuesday was referred to company headquarters. Attempts at reaching a spokesperson were unsuccessful.

Anaphylaxis occurs when a trigger activates immune cells, which then release large amounts of multiple substances, including histamine, into the bloodstream, according to UpToDate.com, an online community for physicians.

It’s estimated anywhere from 500 to 1,000 people die annually from severe anaphylaxis.

Call us crazy, but we think people deserve the right to get the food that they ordered and not have to worry about dying when the restaurant gets it wrong. Our condolences to the victim.

Wrong dish blamed in Hampton man’s death [AJC] (Thanks to fmfats!)

Comments

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  1. x23 says:

    i’ve had friends allergic to peanuts have that happen before. not die. but get a dish that has trace amounts of whatever and end up going into anaphylaxic shock.

    guessing the waitress didn’t get a tip due to the screw up. guessing the manager probably picked up the bill too. (probably.)

  2. winstonthorne says:

    Wow, that’s a bad end to the night. The real question is, how many people have died from the FILTH in Ruby’s? The fresco/oscar mix-up is a one-time mistake, but from what I’ve seen of that restaraunt’s level of cleanliness, you’re lucky not to walk out of there with Ebola.

  3. ThinkerTDM says:

    It’s not very clear exactly how the screw up happened:
    either the person didn’t make it clear how important it was (unlikely); or kitchen staff was too lazy to do it right.
    I know how busy it can get in a kitchen, but a rote “accidents happen” doesn’t make it right.
    Wrong foot amputated? Accidents happen. Wrong medication given? Accidents happen.
    For crying out loud, take some responsibility! It’s true, accidents happen. That’s why people are trained- to prevent accidents. For all of these jobs, a monkey could be in there, flailing around. But a person is there to use his/her brain and do the job right.
    Especially here- it’s not rocket science!

  4. I dare say that if I had a deadly allergy to just about anything, I’d avoid most restaurants altogether, especially those whose sole aim is to shovel as much food into as many mouths as possible over the shortest period of time.

    Maybe that’s just me. Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday. Who could put a name on you? Murderer. There, I just did it.

  5. Nytmare says:

    @Ash78: That’s hindsight. By the time you find out yourself if a reaction is deadly, you’re dead.

  6. nweaver says:

    THis is why if you even SUSPECT you have a major food allergy, you should carry an Epi-Pen at all times.

  7. @nytmare: So you mean he knew he was allergic, but just didn’t know the severity of it?

    I know a couple of people with peanut and bee-sting allergies, and they are VERY cautious when it comes to avoidance. And as far as I know, they’ve never had to die before (I don’t think)…

  8. ncboxer says:

    Isn’t there anything you can bring with you if you know you might go into shock from eating something? I remember I few years back hearing about a local girl that died at the mall from a peanut allergy. She asked the person serving the food if it contained peanuts and they said no, but it did. She didn’t have some injection thingy she usually has, so nothing could be done in time to save her. Sad….

  9. patodonnell39 says:

    That is horrible. I agree about avoiding restaurants if you have food allergies, though. Not blaming the victim or anything, just saying…

  10. @ncboxer: Yes, see the Epi-pen comment above. It’s about the size of a magic marker and can shoot epinephrine (adrenaline) straight into your system to combat anaphylaxis.

  11. vllygrrl says:

    Honestly, I’m not sure why the guy ate the chicken. The Chicken Fresco that he ordered should have been topped with fresh tomatoes. Chicken Oscar is topped with crabmeat, no tomatoes anywhere. How can you not notice something like that?

    Darwin Awards, anyone?

  12. BoomerFive says:

    I wish posters would stop making assumption after assumption every time a story is posted. Who said he didn’t have an epi pen with him? He easily could have and been affected so quickly he couldn’t use it. Also saying that he should not go to some restaurants is asinine. You should be able to go out to eat and actually get what you order. The guy was 35 years old, which could lead you to believe he has been eating out for quite some time without incident. I am really starting to despise these round-about ways to blame the OP or the person affected with EVERY story that gets posted.

  13. backbroken says:

    I’m in no way blaming the consumer, as this is terribly tragic. But I would never place my life in the hands of anonymous strangers working a mimimum wage job. If you have a severe food allergy I think you ought to just stay out of restaurants. It sucks, but those are the cards life has dealt you.

  14. Jubilance22 says:

    Either way, this man wouldn’t have died if Ruby Tuesday had brought him the correct dish. This isn’t the victim’s fault.

    @BoomerFive: ITA. Blaming the victim is the wrong way to go here. Its Ruby Tuesday’s fault, end of story.

  15. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @BoomerFive:

    Yeah, so much for that new commenter code.

  16. @BoomerFive: You should be able to go out to eat and actually get what you order

    In a perfect world, yes. But do you trust your local restaurant staff with the same level of care as a surgical team or air traffic controllers? I sure hope not.

  17. Bladefist says:

    I feel so bad for the server who made that error. Wow, he or she made an honest mistake, and now has to live with that.

    @Ash78: My guess, if he knew he was allergic, he would have known not to eat it. He must have gotten it, and decided to eat it anyway. I’m not sure how you confuse shellfish with chicken. Just a guess.

  18. brainologist says:

    Perhaps it’s time we start having epi-pens available in public locations for emergencies, the same way there are AEDs and fire extinguishers. Seems the marginal cost is very small to add an epi pen to a first aid kit (which surely restaurants have already?)

  19. a guy I work with is allergic to shellfish. He ate a couple of bites of some pasta at work the other day that had some shrimp in the sauce and his throat started to swell up and and his lips started to tingle. I was amazed how quickly his body reacted. Thankfully, he’s OK.

    In addition to the friends and family of Mr. Hawkins my sympathy goes out to the workers who would never mean to do this and who must be devastated.

  20. juniper says:

    @ncboxer: Yes, it’s called an Epi-Pen, it’s an injection that contains epinepherin. They tend to be carried around by people who are allergic to bees and nuts most frequently. The trouble happens when someone has a severe reaction to something they’ve never had a reaction to before, or never had such a strong reaction to before. As said above, you don’t know it’s going to kill you until you’re dead.

    This poor guy probably knew he was allergic to shellfish because of a bad experience (maybe hives or mild anaphylaxis) as a child and avoided shellfish his entire life – only to experience a deadly reaction the one time he eats it 20 years later. No way to know.

    I easily see a civil suit too against the restaurant even if no criminal charges go in. If the order went in right and came out of the kitchen wrong, also against the chef. If the order went in wrong, against the server.

  21. Bladefist says:

    @Bladefist: In other words, maybe he didn’t know he was allergic

  22. backbroken says:

    @BoomerFive: Yes, you should be able to go to any restaurant you want to regardless of your food allergy. But the reality is that you can’t, unless you are willing to play waiter roulette. Ruby Tuesday is at fault here, to what degree I can’t tell from the story. But why take the risk? Of course, it was Mr. Hawkins right to take that chance. I’m just saying I probably would not.

    How long until some restaurant posts a sign saying “People with food allergies eat at their own risk.”

  23. NumberFiveIsAlive says:

    Eh, server was not at fault, thats just basic human error right there. I really hope he/she does not blame themselves. Situations like this though, I don’t think anyone is at fault.

  24. BoomerFive says:

    @Ash78: I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t expect the same types of things from a minimum wage plate jockey that I do my surgeon do I?

  25. choinski says:

    I don’t have food allergies, but if I did, one of the biggest assumptions I would make is never trust anyone with food items I didn’t see made or made my self. Stick to the salad bar, don’t go out to eat in strange places, etc..

  26. K-Bo says:

    @brainologist: They are pretty expensive and expire frequently from what I hear. Not that it wouldn’t be worth it to save a life, but I just don’t see corporations springing for them.

  27. @Bladefist: I want to believe that, but unfortunately many servers can’t be bothered to deal with allergy issues, partly because a lot of people have “imaginary” allergies and the servers get tired of coping with it. So they just blow off people’s allergy requests.

    (As for how you confuse shellfish and chicken, I wondered about that too, but I suppose it depends on how it’s prepped — had a veggie friend accidentally eat chicken that was put on instead of tofu and the chicken looked and tasted just like the tofu, particularly when smothered in sauce, I couldn’t tell the difference either — and on how familiar he is with shellfish. I, personally, have no idea what shrimp or lobster tastes like and probably wouldn’t know if confronted with it.)

  28. Jubilance22 says:

    @NumberFiveIsAlive: People are held criminally responsible for human error all the time. This server shouldn’t be exempt from that. Error or not, he or she still caused someone’s death.

  29. SadSam says:

    Even if he got the correct order, cross contamination could occur. My mom is allergic to clams and she has to be careful to avoid anything fried at places that serve clams because the clams and everything else are all fried in the same oil and she ends up sick even if she doesn’t eat the clams.

  30. mrmysterious says:

    I bet the server was trying to be cool and attempted to memorize his order only to put it into the computer a minute later as the wrong entry.

    Food allergies suck, my wife is allergic to tree nuts so we are constantly doing it. She is also bad about carrying her epi-pen with her.

  31. @BoomerFive: Boomer, please read the article. From the article:
    Emergency personnel arrived at Ruby Tuesday around 9:45 p.m., and Hawkins was pronounced dead at Southern Regional Hospital less than 30 minutes later.

    While not a medical expert, the hospital more than likely gave him epi, then went to work trying to save him seeing a chance at survival. If it was so bad he was DOS, I don’t think they would have flailed on him for so long. It sounds like it was severe, but not an instant death severe, and no one got there soon enough to halt the progression until the paramedics arrived.

  32. Angryrider says:

    This is sad. Maybe now people will actually pay attention to what they’re serving to each other. I ordered turf! Not surf!

  33. BoomerFive says:
  34. apotheosis says:

    Obviously, the solution is to ban anything containing shellfish from public restaurants.

    Don’t laugh, a certain youth organization I know of banned all peanut-containing products from a recent week-long day camp event. Worked like a charm, the one child of over 1,500 who had nut allergies was completely unaffected.

    On one hand, I’d like to be bitchy about one kid’s problem affecting that many other kids. On the other hand…I think about going through life without peanut butter, and I just can’t imagine how much that would suck, so bitchiness seems rather petty.

  35. CharlieFogg says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: You’re right. I think people will say they’re allergic to things so that they’re not included in the dish. We went to lunch with someone who sent a salad back because she didn’t like cilantro, but said she was allergic.

    On the other hand, my son has a bad allergy to sesame seeds, which he was tested for after having a bad reaction, and we now carry an Epipen AND benadryl. You really need to have both since the Epipen gives you 15 minutes or so to get to a hospital. The benadryl will kick in during that 15 minutes.

  36. Hobz says:

    Chicken Fresco (Pictured food item upper right)

    A fresh, grilled chicken breast topped with seasonal vine-ripened tomatoes, lemon-butter sauce, and a splash of balsamic vinaigrette. Served with fresh, steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes.

    [www.rubytuesday.com]

    Chicken Oscar

    Tender jumbo lump crab meat with asparagus tips and lemon-butter sauce atop a fresh grilled chicken breast. Served with fresh, steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes.

    [www.flickr.com]

    I’m not trying to flame the victim here, it certainly is a tragedy. But if he knew he was allergic to shell fish wouldn’t he have questioned the lump crab meat on the top of the chicken? I would like to think that maybe he didn’t know. But then how do you get to the ripe old age of 35 and not know?

  37. @brainologist: AED’s require basic training, and from what I remember from dealing with people who were allergic, they used different dosage epi-pens. Training a non-medical person to choose the right dosage as opposed to the pen a specific person is prescribed would probably be very hard. Also, AED’s and fire extinguishers have very relaxed storage requirements in the way of temp and other things. Also, epi given to a person who is not in anaphlaxis can be deadly, while an AED will not shock if it detects a rhythm.

  38. BoomerFive says:

    @Git Em SteveDave has a new Lego set: Dude, read my response. I never said he didn’t get an epi. I was simply saying providing an alternative of what MIGHT have happened in response to another post.

  39. @BoomerFive: I was responding to your comment where you said: Who said he didn’t have an epi pen with him? He easily could have and been affected so quickly he couldn’t use it

  40. moore850 says:

    @Jubilance22: Definitely, this is a classic case of involuntary manslaughter, which generally is legally defined as “an improper use of reasonable care or skill while performing a legal act”, i.e. serving the wrong dish to a patron who is deathly allergic to ingredients in the wrong dish. It’s the same in principal as accidentally backing a forklift into oncoming traffic and flattening some guy’s car… an unintentional but nonetheless deadly mistake.

  41. apotheosis says:

    @Hobz:
    Well, maybe he thought it was chicken garnished with rich chickeny lumps of chicken.

  42. WampaLord says:

    Awful tragedy, but while the fault lies with Ruby Tuesday’s, I think this has to be chalked up to “accidents happen.” Happens at doctor’s office and pharmacies too, to err is human.

  43. ucdcsteve says:

    Sad story, obviously. What I’d like to know is whether the restaurant is liable for cross contamination or if the small print on the menus (something along the lines of “might contain shellfish or peanut products”) might in some way absolve them? What if the order had been correct (chicken), but had a small cross-contamination of shellfish from the prep area? Are restaurants required to isolate preparation of all potential food allergies? That seems impossible. Just curious if anyone speaks the legal language of this case.

    Regardless, I would hope some sort of compensation would be offered and the family will be provided for in a way far beyond free meals at Ruby Tuesdays.

  44. RagingBoehner says:

    @Jubilance22: My brother has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts, and carries an Epi-pen. I’ve also worked as a server before. I tried to be as consciensious as possible, but people make mistakes.

    You can sue a server right into bankruptcy but they probably don’t have much money to begin with and I’m not sure what that will accomplish. Ultimately, you can’t trust anyone but your own instincts with these things.

    The best way to approach it from a consumer standpoint, assuming you know ahead of time about the severity of the allergy — is to make the server clear that if it’s not done right you risk death. It gets their attention. Plus, if they don’t know about ingredients, it’s unlikely that they’d be willing to risk that.

    But suing them? I guess you could. But restaurants get busy and people forget orders. It happens. If someone were to serve you regular coffee by mistake does that make him liable for a lawsuit too? Lord knows the coffee got mixed up more than anything else. I usually just served people decaf either way because that’s all that was handy.

  45. boss_lady says:

    @mrmysterious: I was a waitress for about a year. I always wrote everything down, not only for myself but for my customers’ peace of mind- I can’t be the only one who absolutely hates when waitstaff write nothing down. It’s as though they’re saying:

    “What you want isn’t all that important to me.”

    Furthermore, my best friend is severely lactose intolerant, and whenever we go out somewhere new, she asks if there is any cheese/milk/butter in the dish she has ordered and stresses that it’s because she’s severely allergic so that the waitstaff are sure to ask the kitchen and make sure her dish arrives without traces of milk. Just in case, though, she does always have a pill that will help calm her stomach and keep her from having a puking fit/breaking out into hives in the restaurant.

    The story doesn’t say whether or not the customer was aware of his allergy- maybe he didn’t know. Regardless, he ordered one dish and was served another, which is the issue at hand.

  46. DrJimmy says:

    This is a terrible accident. My heart goes out to the family & friends of the deceased. I’m also thinking some positive thoughts for the restaurant staff; you know they have to feel awful.

    That said, I can’t get behind requiring businesses to keep Epi-Pens on hand. You get into issues such as additional liability, where to keep the things, training staff in recognizing the need for one…seriously impractical.

    There are many people who carry -Pens with them for just such occasions, as asthma patients carry (or should carry)inhalers. I’m not one to dictate personal behavior, but I see carrying such meds as fairly cheap life insurance.

  47. BustedWheel says:

    I have the same allergy to shellfish. It is actually fairly common for someone to mess up an order like this. It can also happen if the two things are just cooked on the same surface without cleaning it first. Generally it doesn’t end in someone dying thankfully. Only thing you can really do is be careful, and always take along an EpiPen (which everyone with any anaphylactic allergy should have)

  48. bohemian says:

    They guy could have had what he thought was a moderate allergy by past experience, but this time due to varying factors had a severe reaction. Or it could have been severe and he didn’t realize there was shellfish in his pasta until it was too late. Some of these dishes smothered in sauce really do look quite the same.

    Even if he did have an epipen with him, they are not always enough to stop a bad reaction or slow it down long enough to get help.

    I have a wheat allergy and I can tell you from experience that wait staff don’t give a rip and don’t understand food allergies. I don’t make a big deal out of it, but asking about ingredients of an item is pointless. If you asked 10 wait staff people if fried shrimp have wheat in them, 9 will tell you no.

  49. @Jubilance22: Not only that, but with a shellfish dish, which any server worth his or her salt knows should be treated with extra care and caution.

  50. MikeB says:

    @Bladefist: They are both chicken dishes it is just that one has crab meat on it.

    Chicken Fresco
    A fresh, grilled chicken breast topped with seasonal vine-ripened tomatoes, lemon-butter sauce, and a splash of balsamic vinaigrette. Served with fresh, steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes.
    Chicken Oscar
    Tender jumbo lump crab meat with asparagus tips and lemon-butter sauce atop a fresh grilled chicken breast. Served with fresh, steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes.

    Not sure what they each look like but they both have the same sauce and the same sides.

  51. chrisjames says:

    @moore850: That’s a can of worms in the restaurant business. It shouldn’t apply though.

    If the restaurant had been informed of his allergy, then it would have been involuntary manslaughter to accidentally serve a dish that kills him. Probably on the part of either the waiter who took and served the order or the restaurant itself, and likely the latter.

    Parents with peanut-allergic children practice safety through meticulous precaution, to the point of annoyance, and I’m sure many people with deadly allergies are warning restaurants before placing orders too. Even Hawkins may not have known about the allergy. It’s just a terrible accident, and it’s hurting everyone involved.

  52. bohemian says:

    @Hobz: Looking at both pictures it seems obvious how the mix up might have happened. Both are chicken covered in a sauce. Oscar sauce probably already has the seafood in it. Fresco also has a cream sauce on top. Since restaurants rarely plate food as seen in menu pictures it could have been just a sauce mix up with the right veggie garnish of tomatoes. Or it could have been enough of a mess it was hard to distinguish.

  53. Hobz says:

    @mbouchard: Actually there is another rather glaring indication it was the wrong dish. One has tomatoes and one has asparagus as a garnish. Whether or not you could see the crab meat, the server and the customer should have noticed the difference.

  54. FreemanB says:

    Legally, this doesn’t fit under Involuntary Manslaughter. For that, you generally need either a separate criminal act (Such as drunk driving) or some form of gross negligence. A waiter/waitress mixing up an order (Or a cook, or whoever brought the food out) doesn’t qualify as criminal negligence, using the Black’s Law Dictionary definition. It actually matches the criteria for an accidental killing(Homicide resulting from a lawful act performed in a lawful manner under a reasonable belief that no harm would occur), which is not considered a criminal offense.

  55. purplesun says:

    @bohemian: I have a wheat allergy and I can tell you from experience that wait staff don’t give a rip and don’t understand food allergies. I don’t make a big deal out of it, but asking about ingredients of an item is pointless. If you asked 10 wait staff people if fried shrimp have wheat in them, 9 will tell you no.

    I was just about to say something along the same lines. I have Celiac Disease (intolerance to gluten found in wheat, barley, rye, etc). I very rarely eat out because I know there’s an extraordinarily good chance I will be sick for two weeks later. When I do choose to go out with friends, it’s a risk I take, though I try to talk to the waiter/manager and do the best I can. I can’t imagine taking that risk if I had a life-threatening allergy, but perhaps he didn’t know.

    This is a true tragedy for everyone involved. My deepest sympathy to the families.

  56. I’m not going to blame the victim here, because it’s obviously not his fault, but I couldn’t fathom going out to eat with a severe shellfish allergy and not carrying an Epi-Pen with you. What if there had been some sort of cross-contamination in the kitchen? There’s no way the server would’ve been able to prevent that.

    I also still can’t understand how you wouldn’t notice crab meat sitting on top of your chicken, but I’ve never had Ruby Tuesday’s Chicken Oscar before, so I have no idea how obvious it is to see.

  57. MikeB says:

    @vllygrrl: Maybe he doesn’t like Tomatoes and asked for it to be left off? Maybe he was involved in a conversation and just didn’t notice that they were missing? Anything could have happened.

  58. bobbleheadr says:

    One of my best friends is severely allergic to shell fish (though her reaction can vary). When we go to a restaurant that serves them she makes sure to mention it to the waiter AND carry an Epipen. Sadly cross contamination can occur in any restaurant kitchen (say a shrimp accidentally gets dropping into a soup/sauce pan or someone uses the same tongs to grab chicken or clams).

    For those of you demanding murder (or manslaughter) charges I hope you never ever make a single mistake in life. This is a tragic mistake that, sadly, can happen in any restaurant. I’m not sure how a waiter bringing a dish to a customer (unless it was malicious) that caused a reaction could be found CRIMINALLY liable, and Im glad the local authorities agree.

    The family can go ahead and sue, and will probably receive a hefty settlement, but it won’t be the waiter they go after, since the “deep pockets” here belong to the restaurant.

  59. bloodsprite says:

    I think all businesses and especially restaurants should be mandated to have stocked first aid kits with Epi-Pens available for public use! the cost to a business would be minuscule compared to the the good publicity of saving someone and the bad publicity of killing some one.

  60. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    It may have been an honest mistake (I don’t think anyone is about to suggest this was intentional) but that doesn’t absolve them of responsibility.

    @BoomerFive: Don’t complain here, e-mail Consumerist and tell them about the inappropriate comments.

    Yes, there is a new moderator but that’s still just one person.

  61. Hobz says:

    @bohemian: Perhaps maybe the kitchen messed up the garnish? Good thinking. I know that some local restaurants in my area have stopped serving tomatoes all together. Maybe the kitchen substituted something else for the tomatoes on his dish.

    I’m thinking RT should change up the dish a little.

  62. BoomerFive says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I will post whatever I like sir. I will also afford that courtesy to you.

  63. RobinB says:

    How sad. Adding my prayers for the family.

  64. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    If he’s allergic to shell fish then he doesn’t crab meat.
    If he doesn’t eat crab meat then why/how should he know what it looks like?

    Does it look drastically different from chicken? Is it purple or something?

  65. synimatik says:

    I worked in a restaurant in college. We had an issue with someone who was allergic to something they ate and the ambulance was called. It ended up that the line cook forgot to remove the item the customer asked to have removed. In addition, the person who ran the food to the table never checked to ensure accuracy. It was a simple mistake, sure, but you better believe they got the holy bejesus sued out of them. Which I’m sure will happen Ruby Tuesday’s in this situation.

  66. LmaoTseTung says:

    It was Ruby Tuesday’s. He probably thought it was krab.

  67. kylenalepa says:

    I find it hard to believe that the restaurant would get the order wrong if the customer stressed the importance of the allergy, which either means:

    1. He didn’t know the severity of the allergy.

    or

    2. He didn’t care enough or didn’t think it was a big deal.

    Obviously we’ll never know one way or the other, but I’m inclined to believe that it was just an unfortunate accident and nobody is at fault.

    I could make a joke about a dead rapper, but that would be in bad taste.

  68. bobbleheadr says:

    @bloodsprite: Never happen. The first time someone has a reaction and uses an expired epipen they would sue their pants off (and if youve ever seen a business’s first aid kit you know things tend to expire).

    The quick-sue culture thats been allowed to thrive has forced companies to stop offering basic medical service, since they suddenly add all sorts of extra liabilities.

    I remember when Mac Grill stopped providing CPR training for employees, since they didnt want to be sued if 1) there wasnt someone trained on duty or 2) someone screwed up and cracked some ribs (a common thing).

  69. MissPeacock says:

    @BoomerFive: I think he/she was just trying to be helpful by saying that if you feel the new comments code has been breached, you should email the appropriate party, as complaining about it in the comments is unlikely to get a response from the moderator. I don’t think he/she was being mean-spirited.

  70. Concerned_Citizen says:

    I find it way off base to suggest the workers are devastated. Of course they are not. They wouldn’t be any more devastated than if a guy keeled over from a heart attack. They served the guy food. They didn’t drive a knife through him. If you have a food allergy, restaurants aren’t the place to go. Tables are barely wiped of, plates might still have residue from the last meal, and mistakes happen. I wonder if this guy tested the food or just shoveled it in. The customer is the most irresponsible person here, he should have looked at his plate before eating anything.

  71. stuckonsmart says:

    Sympathies all around. No one would desire this grief and/or guilt on anyone. BUT . . . what about the common sense concept (and is used to be a legal concept also) of assumptive risk?

    Nowadays — it’s ALWAYS someone else’s fault, never my own. I’m with the posters who subscribe to the theory that one doesn’t entrust one’s health to minimum wage personnel.

    Or how about the Boy Scout’s motto — BE PREPARED. I am sure in a prep kitchen — trace ingredients are more inclined to be co-mingled in dishes than NOT.

    My cautionary motto in life — Prepare for the worst and hope for the best!

    My first question about common sense . . . OOPS, forgot it’s NOT so common.

  72. Juliekins says:

    This is so sad, but I think it’s a good reminder to all of us with allergies that we should take measures to protect ourselves. If you have a food or bee sting allergy, you should ask your doctor for an epi-pen scrip and then keep it filled.

    I am allergic to penicillin. I do not carry an epi-pen, but I do wear a RoadID that indicates my allergy when I’m exercising and a wallet card when I’m not. I hope nobody ever has to read those items due to my inability to communicate, but it was worth the expense ($20 for the RoadID and $5/year for the card) for my peace of mind.

    Also, I’m not sure how good an idea it is to keep epi-pens around as you would a defibrillator. I’ve known people that abuse epi-pens to get high. I suppose you could keep them locked up, but they do expire.

  73. bloodsprite says:

    @bobbleheadr: true I didn’t think of that.
    Tied in with health inspections checking for expired first-aid kit contents and a law to protect good samaritans / businesses from civil suit for trying to help and it would work.

  74. emona says:

    @kylenalepa: You’d be surprised. Speaking as a celiac, I went to Pei Wei, requested their special gluten free menu, ordered the spring rolls off that same menu, stressed that I was allergic to gluten so please do not bring out the soy sauce it comes with and made sure I was in ear shot of the cooks as well.

    What do you think came out with my spring rolls? Yep, the sauce, and two cups of it too. On the menu it specifically states “With no soy sauce” I specifically stated, NO SOY SAUCE. I got soy sauce. Was there soy sauce in the wraps too? Who knows? I sure didn’t try and find out.

    They don’t give a damn, plain and simple.

  75. Veeber says:

    @brainologist: Epi-Pens are made available only by prescription. Not sure if it’s something that you can have just lying around. Also since it would expire someone needs to keep an eye on it to make sure it is still viable and everyone is trained on how to administer. At least with an AED you really only have to worry about the battery, which lasts a fairly long time.

  76. RagingBoehner says:

    @Veeber: They also require immediate admission to a hospital. Epinephrine does some crazy stuff to your body. Not that you wouldn’t need to go to the hospital if you were defibrillated.

  77. Wally East says:

    @WampaLord: Accidents don’t just happen. Events happen in which someone doesn’t take the proper care to ensure that correct outcome happens. “Accident” is just a more polite word for screw up. Unless an Act of God occurs (lightning hitting a tree and the tree falling on a car), someone made a mistake.

  78. myprozacdream says:

    My sister has an allergy to shellfish and we ALWAYS inform the waitress/waiter. They are always MORE than understanding, and will often times bring her food out on a separate tray if anyone in our group gets shellfish to avoid contamination. Maybe this wait staff was different, but we’ve never had any problems with them.

    It’s very sad, but charging the wait staff or the chef could open up a whole legal can ‘o worms that i’m sure a lot of judges would not like to be involved in. That being said, if the cust told them that he was allergic, and they did this, that’s one thing. if they didn’t know and it was an honest mistake, that’s completely different because it would show no intent/knowledge that the food would in fact be a danger and their actions would harm the customer. In that case the cust not informing them would legally be considered acceptable risk on his part.

    problem is we don’t know the whole story.

  79. Peeved Guy says:

    @CharlieFogg: The sad part is that if you DON’T say you’re allergic, they just pick off the offending substance. My wife doesn’t like jalapeños (but I lover her anyway) and we’ve had servers just pick them off dishes if they were served to her accidentally. There is NO WAY that will work, peppers, onions and the like will “contaminate” the food with their flavor as soon as they are applied.

    We’ve found the only way to have a new dish prepared is to feign an allergy or make a stink. Which direction I go depends on the mood I’m in and how the server is reacting to the request.

  80. macinjosh says:

    @BoomerFive: This is what they’re talking about: [consumerist.com]

  81. picardia says:

    @backbroken: If you were in that guy’s place, I seriously doubt you’d never, ever want to eat out with friends once in your whole life. Every single time somebody was celebrating a birthday or getting old friends together, you’d say, “Sorry, I’m going to sit here at home and eat white bread and have nothing to do with you guys, because I’m allergic to ONE kind of food among many?” If this is true, that’s actually really sad. But I doubt it’s true.

    It’s a tragic mistake. I can see that even if the guy did know he was allergic, he might not have told the server about a shellfish allergy when he was ordering a chicken meal. It’s also possible that the guy did not know about his allergy or that the allergy had become much more severe recently. (I have heard that some people will go through periods of having only mild reactions to shellfish and then, suddenly, WHAM.) And if it’s an evening meal, the lights are low, everyone is sort of distracted, etc., I can see not noticing the crabmeat until a moment too late.

    It’s just tragic, basically.

  82. JustaConsumer says:

    Restaurants, supermarkets, and bakeries do not take food allergies seriously. I think Ruby Tuesday should be charged with negligent homicide.

  83. picardia says:

    @stuckonsmart: “One doesn’t trust one’s health to minimum-wage personnel”? Doesn’t one?

    I’m pretty sure you do, every day. Even if you don’t have a food allergy, you are trusting that the minimum-wage workers who prepared your food didn’t make a mistake that contaminated your meal or otherwise made it unsafe. If you want to talk about a severely underpaid class of workers, low level hospital and clinic staff don’t make much, particularly for the hours/duties, and they’re very connected to your health. Ever gotten your car serviced at Wal-Mart? Or bought wiring on the recommendation of a Home Depot clerk?

    Or is one so elevated above humanity that one need never allow minimum-wage workers to sully one’s existence, or in fact rely upon any other human beings at all?

  84. RandomZero says:

    Honestly, I’m amazed this sort of thing doesn’t happen more often. I have a friend with a severe gluten allergy (trace amounts can cause him massive discomfort for an entire day), and we eat out on a semiregular basis. Even when he stresses to the waitstaff that he has a severe allergy and ALL CONTACT must be avoided, chances are about 50-50 they’ll screw it up (mostly not telling the prep staff to change their damn gloves or wash their hands).

  85. satoru says:

    @Veeber: Epi-pens are generally pretty easy to use. When I toured a bunch of elementary schools the teacher’s lounge has a posting of all their allergic kids and how to use an epi-pen. It’s literally, take the cap off, and stab the person in the thigh or arm. But if you’ve never seen one before then it might be confusing. An Epi-pen is only useful is someone else is around. Usually if you’re in anaphaltic shock, you’re basically screwed unless you get help from someone else. These things come on almost immediately, and you have little time to react to it.

    I think it would be pretty hard to be that allergic to seafood and not know about it. You can spontaneously develop allergies, but not usually to the extent where it would be fatal.

  86. ageekymom says:

    While carrying an epi-pen is good advice for people with allergies, I have a friend who is allergic to shellfish and he has been told that his allergy is so severe that an epi-pen won’t help him. The next time he eats shellfish could most likely be his last.
    Another friend, after eating shellfish for years has been diagnosed with an allergy to it. Not all allergies present themselves in childhood.

  87. kathyl says:

    Uh, sort of appalled to read all the “gee, couldn’t he see the crabmeat, so he deserved to die” comments.

    Condolences to the family and friends.

  88. arsbadmojo says:

    Given what data is in the story, I guess I’d have to assign blame at 70% Ruby Tuesday, 30% Customer.

    That of course could change if the customer didn’t know they were deathly allergic to shellfish – just hard to see how you could get to that age and not know.

  89. ageekymom says:

    @satoru
    Oftentimes, shellfish allergies are actually allergies related to iodine. Hospitals often ask patients if they are allergic to shellfish because iodine might come into use during their treatment. Many people don’t make the correlation between the two.
    Allergies do progress in severity as well.. my 2nd friend that I referenced below your comment was over 50 before he was diagnosed. He had eaten shellfish many times before he had a reaction.

  90. SkittlesMcGee says:

    Reading the comments here made me sad. I have a anaphylactic peanut allergy, and I am extremely careful about what and where I eat. I always carry an epi pen with me, and I always explain my allergy to the waiter and ask how things are cooked–what kind of oil is used, if anything with peanuts is cooked in the same pan/on the grill. I always look at menus before I decide to eat at a restaurant. This means avoiding most asian restaurants, even though I love the food. I know the word for peanut in several languages. I know what dishes often have “hidden” peanuts (e.g. navratan korma, mole sauce). Even though I’m not allergic to tree nuts, I avoid them too. I read labels obsessively. All of my family/friends/coworkers know what to do if I go into anaphylactic shock. Somehow, though, I get the sense that most people here would blame me if a restaurant served me something with nuts in it, since I shouldn’t have left the house in the first place.

    To everyone who has a food “dislike” that they claim is an allergy: please stop. I know it gets you your cilantro-free salsa 30 seconds faster, but it makes life worse for those of us who do have life-threatening allergies. If a waiter picks the jalepenos off your quesadilla and sees you digging in with no ill consequences, it makes them think that allergies aren’t to be taken seriously. You know what would happen if someone picked the peanuts off a dish that they then served to me? Death.

    Please, have compassion for people whose lives might be more difficult than your own.

  91. Mary says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: I’m very surprised that you’re assuming the wait staff and people working there are uncaring, callous people.

    The person who brought out the food was probably just a runner, not their waiter or the chef. It’s entirely likely that they feel wretched about what happened.

    The server, the chef, the manager, heck even nearby patrons who could have tried to save his life but failed, probably all feel responsible and I’d wager most of them feel terrible about it.

    I don’t care how much you personally hate wait staff, assuming that they’re unfeeling like this is assuming they’re inhuman. Maybe some people wouldn’t care, but I think the majority of the population would, even if it wasn’t their fault.

  92. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Veeber: I was given an epi-pen once. They (or at least the one I got) didn’t expire for a year. Any place that has one of those First-Aid kits to comply with OSHA could just add the pen to the kit.

    I don’t think it’s too unreasonable for restaurants to keep one around especially since, as satoru pointed out, someone other than the person going into shock will probably have to be the one to use it.

  93. The_IT_Crone says:

    @nweaver: YES!

    When I found out I had a food allergy I got epi-pens that week. No fooling around with this type of thing. They’re not a perfect solution, but maybe it will help you survive until you can get to the hospital.

    I am kind of angry that there are no charges being filed. We don’t know if the poor guy made it clear that he had an allergy, but restaurants are so used to people who don’t “like” a food calling it an “allergy” that it’s probably a Boy-Who-Called-Wolf problem now. Maybe this will remind them that SOME people DO have allergies.

  94. fallingstar says:

    As someone who has become very deathly allergic to shellfish, this is my personal nightmare. Thankfully I’m not dead, but allergies develop sensitivity with increased exposure. Now I can’t even breathe in fumes of cooking shellfish particles without a mild reaction. That said, not eating out is ridiculous. One just needs to take caution. I no longer go into lion’s dens (seafood restaurants) but if only a couple items on the menu are shellfish, then I will go. You just need to make it very clear to the waiter how serious your allergies are. Heck, I even brought translated allergy cards stating the severity of my allergies when I traveled abroad and I was fine. Most were understanding, but there are always a few who don’t get how serious it is. I don’t eat where I’m not comfortable and always carry my Epi-Pen and Benadryl. One shouldn’t deny themselves the pleasures of great food where they are still able to.

    Condolences to this man. He probably didn’t realize the severity of his allergy. I’ve had some extremely frightening experiences (yes, a couple) and thank goodness for the epinepherine.

  95. WaywardSoul says:

    Before anyone blames the kitchen, waitstaff, or restaurant note that nowhere in the article does it say the customer told anyone that he was allergic to crab meat. It says he ordered the chicken because he was allergic to crab but not that he told the waiter about the specific allergy or its severity. It may have been friends or family that later revealed his reasons for ordering the chicken.

    I agree with others. Restaurants need to keep a few epi-pens on hand and individuals with known allergies need to carry one too AND have an alert bracelet or tag. @BoomerFive – NO it is NOT assine to suggest that someone with severe allergies restrict the places they visit. It is common sense.

  96. Trust me, I'm a doctor says:

    Everyone seems to be missing the real story. A rapper dies unexpectedly and there is no talk of East Coast vs. West Coast beefs or the secret police hip hop hit squad being part of the death. Where’s the Lone Gunmen when we need them?

    “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.” –Mel Brooks

  97. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    …just hard to see how you could get to that age and not know.

    @arsbadmojo: Why would he know until he’s actually eaten crab meat?

  98. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I meant “how”. How would he know until he’s actually eaten crab meat?

  99. The_IT_Crone says:

    I should throw out another thought: for you people who are blaming the guy who died because the dish looked different…

    Did you already forget the tomato ban because of the salmonella scare? Maybe the guy thought the asparagus was substituted because they were unable to put tomatoes on it.

    I’ve gotten dishes where the sides were different because they were out of the original item several times. IT HAPPENS.

  100. I don’t get why it isn’t mandated (or at least voluntarily asked) for restaurants and high traffic areas to have an epi-pen on hand. They do it with AEDs at malls and airports, and it’s not high maintenance at all, except maybe getting a new one when it expires

    condolences regardless. Such an avoidable yet horrible way to pass away

  101. wiIdcatlh says:

    A tragic accident, but an accident nonetheless. Is it the restaurant’s fault? Yeah. Should anybody be going to jail for this? No way. Doesn’t come close to the definition of involuntary manslaughter. Even criminally negligent homicide requires more than this.

  102. Ben Popken says:

    Nobody knows how much crab meat was on the chicken, and no one knows how much sauce was covering the crab meat, obscuring it from view. Maybe he was engaged in a really animated conversation with his dinner companions and didn’t examine his food with a magnifying glass before eating it. Some of the comments here are overly blame-the-victim and some are just borderline.