UPDATE: Ruby Tuesday Says Man Ordered Fatal Crab Dish

Yesterday, we reported that Rodney Hawkins, who was allergic to shellfish, died after eating an entree containing crab meat which was mistakenly brought to him at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Lovejoy, GA.. According to AJC, Ruby Tuesday denies any wrongdoing and says that the man actually ordered the chicken and crab meat dish called the “Chicken Oscar” which triggered the fatal allergic reaction. Rodney’s widow, Linda Hawkins, disagrees. Details, inside…

The article says,

[Linda Hawkins] hopes that Ruby Tuesday accepts responsibility and does whatever is necessary to see that this doesn’t happen again,” said Chicago attorney Joseph Leonardi, speaking on behalf of the Hawkins family.

Hawkins, 35, collapsed and went into anaphylactic shock Thursday night soon after consuming the shellfish at the Ruby Tuesday on Tara Boulevard, according to an autopsy conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The welder and aspiring rapper was rushed to Southern Regional Medical Center and pronounced dead a half hour later.

Investigators have suggested a mix-up in the dinner order, but won’t file any criminal charges.

“He had ordered the Chicken Fresco and the Chicken Oscar was brought out by mistake,” said GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) spokesman John Bankhead.

Ruby Tuesday said its own review revealed no such error.

“Our investigation of this incident, which includes interviews with the server and manager on duty and the collection of their written notes of what occurred, clearly indicates that the guest ordered Chicken Oscar, a dish that contains crab meat,” Rick Johnson, a spokesman for the company, said in a statement sent to the AJC on Tuesday.

“The server’s order pad and the ticket to the kitchen also verify the accuracy of the order.”

The two dishes, restaurant officials point out, differ significantly in appearance. Chicken Fresco is topped with a tomato slice and chopped green herbs, while Chicken Oscar has crab meat and asparagus spears.

“She [the server] is very clear that he repeated more than one time that Chicken Oscar was his choice,” said Johnson, whose company has more than 25 metro Atlanta locations. “We don’t believe there was any confusion on her part. Had he been confused . . . when the dish was brought to the table it would be been clearly visible to him that it had crab meat on it.”

Virginia Hawkins said in a phone interview from her Momence, Ill., home that her brother was allergic to shellfish since childhood. She said he moved from Illinois to metro Atlanta to pursue a rap music career.

Are we to believe that this man with an acute shellfish allergy since childhood failed to read the description of the entree or simply ordered the wrong entree by mistake? And that this also slipped by his wife who was with him? Why would Rodney have repeated his order “more than once?” That implies that the order was spoken at least 3 times which seems a bit unusual. Of course, maybe the RT representative meant to say the order was said more than once, not repeated. We’re not saying that Ruby Tuesday’s version is impossible, just improbable. But we don’t like to speculate, we leave that to the commenters.

PREVIOUSLY: Wrong Order Kills Customer At Ruby Tuesday

Wife: Man who died didn’t order crab dish [AJC] (Thanks to Sunny!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. benh57 says:

    A little OT, but that’s robably a bit more than fair use quoting there, Jay.. I think a paragraph or two max is about it.

    (AP even gave drudge a takedown over 39-79 word quotes, but then backed off)


  2. ShadowFalls says:

    So they have proof that it was written down, but no proof that the waitress didn’t write down the wrong thing?

    Be honest people, how many of you had a waiter/waitress write down the wrong thing? This has happened to me more than once, how can you say it most certainly didn’t happen in this case?

    The order pad and ticket again mean nothing if the wrong thing was written down. Plus, nothing stopping them from falsifying that information later either.

  3. CumaeanSibyl says:

    I’m not feeling Ruby Tuesday’s story here, but it does seem odd that he’d eat something with obvious crab meat on it. Is this some sort of elaborate new suicide technique? Just once, before I die, I’d like to taste the forbidden crustacean…

  4. kyle4 says:

    I don’t believe their story. A guy who has been allergic to shellfish since childhood sees it on his plate and eats it anyway? That doesn’t make any sense. I know they’re trying so very hard to not get sued but they’ll have to make up a better defense than that.

  5. sarahelca says:

    Sounds like a lot of people trying to cover their butt. I was a waitress for four years and there was more than one occasion when I heard what I wanted and wrote down the wrong order.

  6. @kylo4: Are you really doubting the stupidity of people?

    I am not supposed to eat shellfish b/c I have gout. If I eat a lot, I’m in pain for a long time, and pretty much disabled when I have a flare up. BUT, on holidays, I will enjoy some shellfish b/c a small amount doesn’t bother me. Perhaps this gentleman had in the past had MILD reactions, but wanted to have something he hadn’t had for awhile, and unfortunately, now it was an acute reaction. I did forsee this part of the article though, “said Chicago attorney Joseph Leonardi, speaking on behalf of the Hawkins family”. I mean, it was only 4 days, why shouldn’t they have an attorney?

  7. donkeyjote says:

    Why would Rodney have repeated his order “more than once?” That implies that the order was spoken at least 3 times which seems a bit unusual. Of course, maybe the RT representative meant to say the order was said more than once, not repeated.

    Wow, really nitpicking arn’t ya?

    Are we to believe that this man with an acute shellfish allergy since childhood failed to read the description of the entree or simply ordered the wrong entree by mistake? And that this also slipped by his wife who was with him?

    Are we also to believe that a man with acute shellfish allergy since childhood failed to even look at his plate once before eating? I mean, who doesn’t look at their plate atleast once to make sure it’s what they ordered. Either he’s stupid, or he’s not, can’t have it both ways.


    The order pad and ticket again mean nothing if the wrong thing was written down. Plus, nothing stopping them from falsifying that information later either.

    What’s stopping the family of the decease of lying to get money out of this?
    And given that the rest of the waitress pad would have the orders placed before or after (most likely with dates) would give reason to believe it.

  8. MickeyMoo says:

    Not a seafood eater here (but not allergic as far as I know) Wouldn’t he have been able to smell the crab? I’m so acutely aware of the smell of some fish I can smell someone eating a tuna fish sandwich near me – does crab smell when it’s on food in a portion quantity?

  9. FrenchBenj says:

    I’m sorry, but if you are DEATHLY allergic to shellfish, you just DON’T go into a restaurant that has it on their menu, period. Even if they got the order correctly and gave him chicken, who’s to say there wasn’t a spec of shellfish left in the pan used to cook the chicken or something? Restaurants should not be put in the position of having to sterilize their equipment because of one customer’s medical condition.

    It’s kind of like going to the zoo even though you’re deathly allergic to cats – yeah, you won’t go near the feline enclosure, but better be safe than sorry and not go to the zoo at all.

  10. donkeyjote says:

    Also, I have just recently developed an allergy to seafood, both shellfish and regular fish. I get small break out of hives. A year or two ago, I didn’t have it, eating shrimp by the fist full (Hmmm, fried shrimp). Now I still eat fish and shrimp, and hope I don’t get hives or just keep some benydril around me. Shrimp is now like turkey to me. Food and a nap. Yum.

  11. donkeyjote says:

    @FrenchBenj: You make it seem like you can get even remotely close to the zoo cats. If you are so deathly allergic to something that you die from being ~20 feet away, God help you some cat lady crosses your path at the supermarket….

  12. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @donkeyjote: I think in this case R/T has a lot more to lose seeing as how the family has already lost.
    But I’m sorry, restaurants, especially fine upstanding establishments such as R/T never make mistakes, right?
    “The rest of the waitress pad” ??? Seriously?

  13. BoscoSeven says:

    Perhaps he wanted to get some “street cred” to improve his rap career by having a near death experience and he took it a little too far…

  14. Rachacha says:

    I am just schocked that RT uses REAL Crab meat, and not the immitation crab meat that most places use!

  15. odoketa says:

    @benh57 – and that’s why TechCrunch has been so anti-AP.

    @Rachacha – I couldn’t agree more – maybe he was thinking the same thing!

  16. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I think I’ll wait for more information. I find it hard to believe that the guy would have deliberately ordered something he knew he was severely allergic to, but on the other hand, it sounds like the two dishes are distinctly different both in look and taste. I find it hard to believe that he didn’t notice the mistake and went right ahead and ate the wrong dish.

    Not enough information.

  17. Hobz says:

    @doctor_cos: “But I’m sorry, restaurants, especially fine upstanding establishments such as R/T never make mistakes, right?”

    Excellent point in a sarcastic way. Restaurants often do make mistakes.

    If I hold out my hands and tell you that each hand contains one pill, a red one and a blue one. I tell you that if you take the red pill you will die. You then ask me for the blue pill which I tell you is in my right hand. Are you going to take the pill from my hand and swallow it? Or, are you going to look at it first to make sure it’s blue?

    I’m not blaming the victim here, I’m just saying that if I had a life threatening allergy to shell fish I would damn well be sure that I’m not eating it.

  18. punkrawka says:

    I think one of the problems here is that “fresco” and “oscar” sound too much alike, particularly if a restaurant is noisy and crowded and the orders are happening quickly. They both have the “sc” sound in the middle and the same two vowels, just transposed. I think it’s entirely possible that the man said “fresco” and the waitress heard “oscar,” and that the same happened in reverse if she read the order back to them. The fact that the written order says “oscar” seems to make this a bit more likely. This would make the whole thing a sad mix-up where either everyone or no one is at fault, in my mind.

  19. theysaidwhat says:

    @donkeyjote: DJ, that is NOT a good idea! You have no way of knowing when or if your reactions might escalate. And you should ask your doctor for a prescription for an Epi-Pen. If your throat ever begins to swell after eating shellfish, you won’t be able to swallow a benadryl pill or caplet, and might not even be able to swallow a liquid benadryl dose. People with shellfish allergies also need to keep a close eye on vitamins and supplements. Calcium and chondroitin are two that come to mind as frequently containing shellfish…

  20. Angryrider says:

    What the hell? All because of insurance purposes, they tried to shy away from their wrongdoing?

  21. David M says:

    Even if RT’s got the order wrong and brought out crab there is no way someone deathly allergic to shellfish would “nom nom nom” it unknowingly.

    I think what happened is the family planned on eating it, having an allergic reaction, then suing RT’s for tons of $ but the dying part was a mistake.

    Wouldn’t make this the first time a customer who felt entitled tried to steal money instead of earning it. Remember the person who died on the plane and claimed they didn’t get treatment or oxygen and then it turned out they knowingly endangered other passengers for boarding and DID get the treatment? I’m sure that was settled for a big $ check as well even though the company was not at fault.

  22. mzhartz says:

    @punkrawka: Exactly what I was thinking. Fresco and Oscar sound enough alike that they could easily be misheard from the other.

    It does seem strange that he ate the crab though. If I thought I was getting all chicken and there was some meat in there the texture of crab, I’d at least be asking if the chicken was fully cooked.

  23. crabbyman6 says:

    @David M: That’s pretty much what I was thinking too. There’s something fishy here(no pun intended) about why this man would have eaten a meal that A)clearly wasn’t his order and B)contained some kind of unknown stringy meat(assuming he didn’t even know what crab looks like). This might also explain why he repeated his order to the waitress, if he did, and why he didn’t use an epi-pen, as everyone I know that’s severely allergic to anything carries one. The speed of lawyer acquisition is also a little suspicious to me, but RT will probably just settle out of court and move on.

  24. veverkap says:

    I’m sorry, the best part of this article was this:

    “The welder and aspiring rapper”

    What an awesome combination! What was his rap moniker? MC Sparks?

  25. Although I feel sorry for the man who died, and his family. I am glad if the man had to go, he did so at a Ruby’s. I used to work at a Ruby’s for almost two years. All I can say is that they have the worst management ever. We hade 4 different general managers and they would get fired every half a year if they didn’t improve sales. The whole time there we had the same assistant management staff(probably responcible for poor sales). The entire magagement staff popped pain pills all the time. They didn’t even try and keep it on the downlow. They would snort oxy’s infront of me after closing. I guess they trusted me. I never complained or anything. I probably should have.

    Long story short it was an awful place to work, and if the management sucks, the service sucks, thus the tips sucks. So I quit, I probably should have done so much sooner but I was working my way through college.

  26. topgun says:

    @FrenchBenj: I was on an airline flight where they didn’t serve peanuts because one person was allergic.
    A lot of valid points on both sides from the commenters,
    but something is “fishey” (pun intended) that this guy couldn’t smell, see or taste what he was eating.

  27. backbroken says:

    Me thinks someone is lying. They’ve now turned an honest mistake into an ugly “he said/she said” dispute. Shame on you Ruby Tuesday.

  28. moore850 says:

    There should be no doubt that they cooked what the server noted to cook on their pad, etc. However, did the server note the right dish? Probably not. I’ve been to restaurants tons of times where they tried to be slick and remember what I ordered, only to enter it wrong in the computer. That’s why at restaurants where they don’t want to screw up, they use a pad and take it down at the table. It doesn’t impress anyone to not use a pad if you screw up the order… especially if it then kills the customer.

  29. peepytweep says:

    If his allergy was this severe he would not be able to eat anything prepared on the same surface that shellfish had been prepared (ie on the same grill). My Mother in law is very allergic to shellfish and anytime we eat out she tells the waitstaff about her allergy. Most times the manager comes out and handles her order personally.

  30. ElizabethD says:

    If you’re talking (mumbling a little, maybe, or not looking up from your menu to speak toward the server?) in a noisy, busy restaurant, the words “fresco” and “Oscar” could sound similar. They both have the distinctive “essk” consonant combination (sc) in the middle. And if the speaker tends to drop the final “r” consonant and say “ahh” instead (it’s not just a New England thing), that would compound the potential for confusion.

    I’m not trying to make lame excuses for the wait person, but I could honestly see how this might happen. She thought she heard one thing and wrote it down that way. Maybe Ruby’s should change the names of the two dishes so they sound very dissimilar.

  31. boss_lady says:

    @benh57: Some of us prefer having all of these details/the extended version. If you didn’t want to read this much, why didn’t you just click ‘back’?

  32. peepytweep says:

    I have a question…..in any of the articles does it say he told the waitress he had an allergy?

  33. STrRedWolf says:

    I think the error is on both sides, first with the menus of Ruby Tuesdays, second with the unfortunate victim of his own choice.

    The thing that gets me is that assuming the victim even knew of his seafood allergy, he decided to move to Atlanta, Georgia, near the ocean where stores would be more apt to serve seafood. He also was starting a rap music career… which not only I believe is already saturated with all types of “musicians,” but I doubt is even music to begin with and gets badly played as ringtones.

    I’m going to stop there. There’s too little information to razz both sides now.

  34. RandomHookup says:

    I like the blaming of the dearly departed for not recognizing that he might have been served the wrong dish. Unless he has seen both dishes before, how would he have known from looking that it wasn’t the right dish? Most dishes don’t look like what they show on the menu (assuming it even has pictures).

    I don’t know if the names of the dishes are some kind of industry standard, but just hearing the name of the dish wouldn’t immediately signal to me that I ordered the wrong thing. All the dish names end up sounding alike…Fresco, Frisco, Oscar…

    RT isn’t going to win this one, even if the stiff was an absolute idiot.

  35. Pyro979 says:
  36. glitterpig says:

    Now, obviously, I don’t know what happened, but I can understand eating crab if you really, really think you’re eating something else. The brain is a powerful thing. I’ve been vegetarian for 15 years, and there was a restaurant where my husband and I went for lunch once a week. They were changing brands of veggie burger, which was fine, until the week where they brought me a TURKEY burger instead. I figured it was just a new type of soyburger, just one that tasted astonishingly meaty. It wasn’t until they brought the check and tried to charge an extra dollar for the turkeyburger that I realized what had happened, and when they brought me the pad as “proof” that I had ordered a turkey burger and had to pay the dollar, I may have gone just a wee bit ballistic. (They wound up giving me the entire meal for free, which is more than I asked for, but I thought was awfully nice. A couple of hours later when I started being sick for the next 12 hours, I thought the free meal was the LEAST they could have done.)

    Anyway, point is – if you think you’re eating chicken, it’s gonna taste like chicken, even if it is crabmeat.

  37. bohemian says:

    I’m not buying RT’s story that this guy intentionally ordered and ate this. I can see how he might not have seen the crab in the sauce. It was a cream sauce and many places use the small pieces of lump crabmeat because it is cheaper. It could be mixed into a cream sauce and not noticed until you ate some of it.
    Wait staff screw up orders all the time too.

  38. rekoil says:

    @Git Em SteveDave has a new Lego set: I’m sure the family had to turn off the phone from all the lawyers that started chasing their ambulance the moment this story hit the wires…a case like this is a liability lawyer’s wet dream.

  39. @STrRedWolf: I think it might be a little extreme to blame to victim for choosing to live in Atlanta. Allergies are often something that can be worked around; they don’t necessarily dictate your life like that.

  40. NumberFiveIsAlive says:

    According to Ruby Tuesday, the conversation went down something like this:

    Server: And what would you like today sir?
    Hawkins: Let me have the Chicken Oscar.
    Server: The Chicken Oscar. Very Good.
    Hawkins: Can you repeat that for me?
    Server: Of course. That was one Chicken Oscar.
    Hawkins: And that has chicken AND crab in it right?
    Server: Yes, that is the Chicken Oscar. Are you allergic to chicken, or crab?
    Hawkins: No, and if I were, I completely absolve Ruby Tuesday of any responsibility, legal or otherwise.
    Server: So thats one Chicken Oscar with disclaimer, correct sir?
    Hawkins: Yes.
    Server: I will now confirm again that you indeed want the Chicken Oscar. Remember this is the Chicken OSCAR, and our restraunt has other chicken dishes.
    Hawkins: Yes, the Chicken Oscar. O-S-C-A-R
    Server: Very good sir. Please sign here to be eligible to receive the Chicken Oscar.

  41. PinkBox says:

    Even if RT got the order wrong, I think the customer also should have paid more attention. If I had a deadly food allergy, if I get anything other than what I ordered, I’m not touching it.

    I’d also make a point of telling the wait staff that I have the deadly allergy!

    @Pyro979: My boyfriend has had chicken oscar at Ruby Tuesday before, and it honestly didn’t look like that.

    The sauce was thicker, and the crab meat was… smaller and more sparse. I had a hard time telling there was crab meat on it myself.

  42. Womblebug says:

    @STrRedWolf: Dude, we’re like four hours away from the coast in Atlanta. Seafood is no more prevalent here than any other inland city.

    There is a large sign, though, when entering city limits from the south on 75 that Atlanta is home to So-So-Def recordings. So rap, yeah. Crab, not so much.

  43. stupidjerk says:

    @STrRedWolf: seafood can be avoided…Atlanta is a big hotspot for rap “musicians”…just because you don’t like it, and probably haven’t heard anything beyond what ringtones you hear in public settings, doesn’t mean its not music…pull your head out of the sand and possibly add something relevant to this unfortunate situation or keep your stereotypes to yourself…the man had a dream and made an effort to make it a reality, probably more than you can say for yourself

  44. wgrune says:


    It kind of reminds me of the ’80s cinematic masterpiece that is FLASHDANCE!

  45. apotheosis says:


    Me thinks someone is lying. They’ve now turned an honest mistake into an ugly “he said/she said” dispute. Shame on you Ruby Tuesday.

    So I guess whether they believe the mistake was theirs or the customer’s, they’re just supposed to roll over and take it in the ass because it’s “mean” to say you didn’t fucking kill someone.

  46. Gopher bond says:

    Every restaurant should have the touch menu order screens you see at some sandwhich places where you can choose your own ingredients or “Extras” and then they make it for you. You can even put in disclaimer screens in the beginning (which no one will read). That way, you’ll have an electronic record of what was ordered, entered by the customer personally.

    Eventually, that’s what it’s going to come to.

  47. donkeyjote says:

    @theysaidwhat: I rather enjoy life (and the occasional shrimp is part of the enjoyment). Thanks for the concern though.

    @veverkap: DJ Forge? MC Blacksmith?

  48. @testsicles: I’ve never seen one of those.

  49. Gopher bond says:


    Mixmaster Plasma
    DJ Arc-Wizard
    Fab-Daddy Alloy

  50. Gopher bond says:

    @Magnakai Haaskivi: They’re freaking awesome! You order like a 6 inch sub as a “base” and the the menu cycles through all the ingredients you can put on it. they have standards like “italian” or “american” or “turkey” but you can choose any combination of meats/cheeses/toppings/sauces. Then when you’re done ordering you hit enter, get a receipt and go pay when they call your number. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in other restaurants.

  51. inno says:

    @BoscoSeven: Hahah yeah almost getting taken out by a crustacean is straight gangsta

    Now its all about Ruby Tusday, you copied my style
    Five clams couldn’t drop me, I took it and smiled

  52. Indecent says:

    I don’t know which way to go on this, actually.

    I’ve had horrible service enough times to not really believe what RT is saying.

    With that being said, I’ve ordered the Oscar before, and it’s obvious as hell that it’s crabmeat.

  53. dragonvpm says:

    Hmmm didn’t we just see something about a patron doing something to scam his way out of paying for his restaurant bill? Hmm…..


    Not that this is what happened in this case, but I think it’s probably a bit naive to assume that this couldn’t be a case of someone trying to run a scam and ending up suffering unintended consequences.

    Personally, I have a hard time seeing how someone who has had that kind of allergy all his life (regardless of severity) wouldn’t notice that they brought out the wrong dish. The difference between chicken smothered in red stuff or chicken smothered in white stuff seems like it would stick out pretty significantly and the people I know with food allergies tend to be super picky about getting exactly what they order (come to think of it vegans, vegetarians, diabetics, and folks who eat kosher do the same thing so it’s not terribly unusual).

    I’m lucky enough to not have any food allergies, but I have a good friend who is very lactose intolerant and he’s always very picky about what he eats because the physical discomfort is pretty major. It just doesn’t track that someone with a significant food allergy wouldn’t be pretty damn paranoid about what got set down in front of him. Apparently it’s really not fun to have an allergic reaction to food so the fact that he ate it seems odd and I’m not convinced it was RT’s fault (it might have been, but I’m just observing the guy who ate the food wasn’t acting like someone with a restricted diet normally would).

  54. radiochief says:

    Neither story sounds correct.

    Maybe the guy’s seafood/shellfish allergies got worse and he had not gone to a doctor recently? That would explain him not having an epi-pen available…

    The gentleman probably was looking at the Chicken Fresco on the menu while ordering, but said the Chicken Oscar. Waitress takes order, brings back order and the guy eats it.

    The only thing I don’t get it is if the two dishes looked markedly different and he has such a serious allergy to the crab meat; that neither the guy or his wife notices.

    The lawyer the wife got should sue her in the name of his estate, if anyone needs to be sued.

    It just seems like a simple mistake with tragic consequences. Unfortunately for the wife, it becomes her word vs. the waitress’s word. Which does not seem good, since the waitress had her own pad and computerized ticket for order and billing in her defense.

  55. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Part of a duo called Mig & Tig?
    Mighty Brazing Rod?

  56. mmstk101 says:

    didn’t he have an epi pen with him? i’d sure carry mine with me to a restaurant if i had a severe food allergy . . . . .

  57. kepler11 says:

    “…We’re not saying that Ruby Tuesday’s version is impossible, just improbable. But we don’t like to speculate, we leave that to the commenters….”

    Consumerist, can you see how this completely irresponsible of you? If you didn’t do any firsthand research on the matter, why are you inviting speculation on a developing issue, that will cloud people’s opinions, and raising doubts about what has been stated?

  58. harlock_JDS says:

    yeah it sounds like the waitress is trying to cover her ass by embellishing the story which makes her (and the restaurant) sound guilty even if they are not. But the family sounds like they are doing the same as the person certainly doesn’t seem to be acting like someone with a ‘lifelong deadly allergy to shellfish’.

    If you have a deadly allergy to something you have to take a large amount of personal responsibility to protect yourself against it because restaurants (esp chain places) aren’t knowledgeable enough and aren’t run well enough to protect you. this is especially true if they don’t even know about your problem in the first place. Apparently the family never notified the server or the manager of the issue and didn’t check and make sure the dish was what they ordered (or didn’t check what they ordered if they did actually order the Oscar). Both of these are a failure of personal responsibility of the person and his family and if they didn’t even notify the restaurant of the issue i don’t see how the restaurant can be held liable.

    Personally if i had this issue I’d bring it up with the manager before ordering and if i was in a place like RT’s i would be very careful about what i did order. If i saw a chicken dish with crabmeat on the menu I’d avoid ordering any similar chicken dishes as the possibility of cross contamination in a sloppily run kitchen would be too much for me.

  59. inno says:

    Yeah, you’re definitely right, especially when the full version is a click away. I’m a staunch advocate of fair use, but irresponsible quoting like this only serves to undermine its defense.

    The link to the full text is below the article. There you can get the full version, and give the creators of the content you “prefer to have” at least some of what they’re due for their work.

  60. dubs29 says:

    So many people are blaming the deceased for not paying attention to his meal. Again it is very difficult to see if covered in a white cream sauce. Especially small chunks.
    1. Now lets ask how long has that server been with RT?
    2. Can they prove it is her notepad?
    3. Can they prove it was not duped / same pen used, hurriedly written, all the same hand writing?
    4. Who is to say the cooks they have in the back did not screw the order up?
    5. Does anyone of the family or restaurant have picture evidence or does the restaurant have any video proof showing the actual dish served?

    There are alot more questions that need to be raised here and I doubt RT as a whole will answer unless done so by their attorneys. I have run restaurants and rarely does a server ask a patron to confirm his order multiple times. RT’s like most restaurants are busy places with lots of background noise. I could be someone near by was ordering the Chicken Oscar and the same time this guy ordered his and she thought she heard that instead of what he ordered. The only time a server I have employed ever asked a customer multiple times was when she was brand new and on her first day or two on the job.

  61. tundey says:

    How else can Ruby Tuesday prove their innocence in this case? They have the waiter’s pad and the kitchen ticket. Unless you proof they doctored those, it’s irresponsible to speculate. Why did the guy order the wrong meal? I think that’s beside the point. The real question is why did he eat something he was obviously allergic to?

    This is just an unfortunate accident and trying to place the blame on Ruby Tuesday or the waiter is unfair.

  62. tundey says:

    @dubs29: why are you trying to place the blame on RT and the waiter? Is it inconceivable that the guy made a mistake? Do restaurants take pictures of food before serving it? Do you take pictures of your food before eating? This is an unfortunate accident.

  63. @apotheosis: This is Consumerist, you’re not supposed to look at the facts, you’re just supposed to blame the big corporation. Seriously, I love that everyone just refuses to believe this guy could have ordered the wrong thing, because this happened at a chain restaurant.

    Bottom line is, none of you know what happened, so don’t act like you do.

  64. civis says:

    Why does everyone need to preface criticism with ” I am not trying to to blame the victim”? If he was in fact aware of the severity of his allergy, I will blame him. There’s no reason to outsource responsibility for his own health to restaurant employees making 8 dollars an hour, especially when it doesn’t appear that he notified the restaurant of his condition. You are assuming this risk when you chose to go out to eat and not taking necessary precautions.

  65. mike says:

    @FrenchBenj: Agreed. People with Peanut allergies don’t go to Five Guys or Lone Star grill, which serves peanuts while you wait for your food.

    I think there needs to be more investigation. I’m starting to agree with CumaeanSibyl. Maybe it was a suicide but the wife didn’t know. That way, she can collect on the life insurance.

  66. mike says:


    Why does everyone need to preface criticism with ” I am not trying to to blame the victim”?

    Because of the new comments guidelines.

  67. backbroken says:

    @apotheosis: No. You don’t take your “evidence” to the media throw up a fence of denial and start a pissing match with a family that just suffered a tragic loss at your restaurant. What is wrong with you?

    How about: “We want to extend our deepest sympathies to the Hawkins family. We want to ensure our customers that our employees do their best to accurately take and fill all food orders while respecting any food allergies that are brought to their attention. We will continue to examine the circumtances of this tragedy in an effort to determine if any changes need to be made to ensure this doesn’t happen again. We will share these findings with other retail food establishments.”

    End of message. They would come off compassionate and reassuring to their customers without admitting guilt or assuming an immediate defensive posture. Is it really that hard?

  68. Ruiner says:

    My son is allergic to peanuts (not sure to what degree, as he is only 3), and we ALWAYS have his Epipen with us. On top of that, if we ordered food for him, and it showed up with peanuts in it, you can be damn sure we wouldn’t let him eat it. Chicken and crab look quite a bit different from each other, and i find it odd that the guy didn’t even look. I’m not sure if the guy ordered it or not, and i dont think there is any way for ANY of us to know that. but one thing we DO know is that the guy knew he had an allergy, and didn’t even bother to look at the plate in front of him before diving in. Hell, we ask most restaurants about the peanut content of their dishes before ordering for our boy, and the only reason we say hes allergic to peanuts is because he had a full allergy test at 18 months.

  69. Meshuggina says:

    It’s pretty ridiculous to hold Ruby Tuesday’s responsible. Even if they DID get the order wrong, it’s a restaurant, these things happen. He should have made a point of telling the server that he had an extreme allergy to crab. If this thing ends up in court, I hope a judge slaps it down hard. The last thing I want is to have to sign a waiver every time I want to order a hamburger.

  70. Aphex242 says:

    Honestly let’s face it: It was a mistake. Either the guy didn’t look closely at the menu (possible), the server misheard “Oscar” for “Fresco” (something many have suggested), etc.

    The mistake was compounded by the customer’s apparent inability to spot food he was deadly allergic to… not blaming the victim here, it’s certainly possible, but if I were totally allergic to something, regardless of what I ordered, I’d make darn sure it wasn’t there.

    Lastly, while the situation is tragic, I really fail to see how RT can be proven negligent here. This automatically blame the company thing is getting out of hand. Yeah, a lot of times corporations do bad things. But is it so hard to see the guy may have ordered without paying much attention, eaten food without paying much attention, died for not paying much attention, and then his family, having difficulty believing he could have done that, either saw it another way or simply changed the story to make him look better?

    Not saying that’s what happened. See, that’s why my post is different than the OP.

    Just saying there are a lot of possibilities here, and plenty of contrary evidence.

  71. statnut says:

    @FrenchBenj: Yeah, he should only eat food that he had made himself. If that means he has to raise chickens, then so be it.

  72. backbroken says:

    @civis: I won’t blame him…but I totally agree with you that you don’t trust a chain of minimum wage employees to hold a loaded gun to your head, which is exactly what the plate of seafood was if his allergy was so severe.

    Human nature dictates that we try to assess blame. But sometimes there is no blame. Mr. Hawkins took a small risk. A chain of unfortunate honest mistakes (we don’t know what they were) added up to end his life.

  73. WalrusTaco says:

    After 8+ years of waiting tables, I can tell you-

    1: Waiters write down the wrong order all the time
    2: Customers ask for the wrong order all the time
    3: It is common for waiters to repeat the order
    4: Even after waiters repeat the order, miscommunication still exists
    5: You should ALWAYS disclose your allergies before ordering if you know they should be life threatening

  74. stre says:

    Picture of Ruby Tuesday’s Chicken Oscar:

    If that’s “clearly visible” as crab meat, then it’s clearly visible that I’m a dog. Looks more like chicken with little pieces of chicken on top.

  75. Michi430 says:

    I don’t know who is at fault here (probably no one). But I will add this to the conversation. I waited tables for years through school, and customers do some dumb things. They forget what they ordered, they get mad that their “baby back ribs” are pork, they think caesar dressing is vegan, and tons of other stuff you would have to see to believe.
    I’m also allergic to shellfish, and there is no way I’m eating something with an unidentifiable meat on it, especially if I ordered something with tomato and there is no red anywhere near my plate.

  76. harlock_JDS says:

    @dubs29: you are right, there are a lot of possible points of contamination in this case since the 2 dishes are virtually identical with the exception of the added crabmeat and different veggies. I think the person took a unreasonable risk in ordering the Fresco and compounded this risk by not informing the restaurant of his condition. Even if he hadn’t ordered/received the wrong dish he was still running a risk of contamination that would be too great if it was my life a stake.

    This may sound like a lot of responsibility on the customer but we are talking about a life treating condition that he had which is not common for most customers. You do have to go above and beyond to protect yourself. And the restaurant i guess should ask EVERYONE if they have any food allergies (most nice places do, i guess it needs to filter down to sit down chains).

  77. blkhwk86 says:

    Here is my 2¢. I am highly allergic to shellfish and my brother is allergic to fish and eggs(great combo, huh). I know that if there is the even most remote possibility that shellfish can be served I make it clear that I am allergic to shellfish. Now, I like sushi and I’m white so I really don’t know what all the different words on the menu mean. I still ask the waitress and make conversation with my friends/family that there can be no shellfish whatsoever. I understand mix-ups happen, but the waitress also should have said the name of the dish as she was putting it down. On another note, if you know you have an allergy, get an Epipen. I know some people don’t have insurance but it is totally worth it to save your life. Imagine if you go into shock as you’re driving. Yeah, not a pretty sight. I do not believe either side in this, unfortunately. So now it will be put to the courts likely in the matter of who is the best liar. Just another case of no one wanting to take responsibility over themselves.

  78. apotheosis says:


    You don’t take your “evidence” to the media throw up a fence of denial and start a pissing match with a family that just suffered a tragic loss at your restaurant.

    Meanwhile, while you’re waffling and hedging, people like…well, a great many people here, for instance – are making you and your company out to be the Third Reich. Great plan.

    They didn’t say “eff him, eff the family he should’ve known better, DARWIN RULES! WOO HOO!” They were responding to and refuting a statement made by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. That’s not only their right, it’s their responsibility.

  79. spanktastic says:

    Why didn’t he warn the waitress of his allergies to make sure that his food was not even cross contaminated by say cooking oil or a previously used cooking utensil….

    Why didn’t he carry EpiPens, Benadryl?

    Was he wearing a Medic Alert bracelet that would have listed his food allergies?

  80. SharkD says:

    Personally, I’m a little surprised that no one has taken issue with Ruby Tuesday’s defense that “they’re two totally different looking dishes, altogether.” (Everyone: ‘There’re two totally different looking dishes.’)

    How the hell should a customer definitively know what a dish is supposed to look like? Restaurants change recipes all the time, plating is inconsistent, especially during dinner rushes at ‘heat and eat’ chains and, of course, they’re presuming that the victim eats a certain dish frequently enough to be familiar with it, which is a pretty poor assumption.

  81. Just because the server writes it on their notepad and enters it into the computer doesn’t mean it’s what the customer ordered. I was at TGIF a few weeks ago and ordered a tuscan portobello melt. The waiter wrote down on his pad, entered into the computer, and brought me a pulled pork sandwich. I have been a vegetarian my entire life, and there is no way I mistakenly ordered a pulled pork sandwich. I sent it back and had the sandwich I *actually* ordered brought out, but the wrong item still appeared on the bill (it was the same price so I didn’t care).

    Point is, just because the waitress wrote it down and put it into the computer doesn’t mean that’s what the customer actually said. And I totally agree with glitterpig about how if you have every reason to believe what you’re eating is one thing, you might not notice that it’s something else. I think in my case I would have realized the pork was not a mushroom, but I mostly caught it because as the server set the plate down he said “pulled pork sandwich” and I stopped him.

    I feel sorry for the guy’s family. And this is not to blame the victim, but I wonder if he told the waitress about his allergy? I always preface my order with “I’m a vegetarian” if I’m asking for a dish to be altered, so the server knows that I MEAN it when I say I don’t want bacon on the salad or whatever. If I had even a slight allergy, much less a deathly one, I would definitely preface every order with, “There’s no shellfish on this, right? I’m deathly allergic”.

  82. egosub2 says:

    Am I the only one who suspects Suge Knight is somehow behind this?

  83. n0ia says:

    Why would his wife need to verify his order for him? He wasn’t three years old.

    And if I was severely allergic to shellfish/seafood, I’m pretty sure I would be able to smell it or SEE it in my dish before eating it. Don’t people look at their food before eating?

    Would you rather die from anaphylactic shock or by being gunned down by some rival rapper?

  84. violettefay says:

    @WalrusTaco: Exactly. I have had customers order something, I repeated the order at least twice, and then when what I repeated comes out, it is not what the person wanted. It happens.

    And if you have an allergy that is that severe, you should be letting your server know right away. You never know what is cooked with what (like pad thai is made with fish sauce, but doesn’t technically contain fish), or if something being nearby will cause a reaction.

  85. hellinmyeyes says:

    I’m not blaming anyone here; I think this is a shitty situation all around. I have had both dishes, and it’s abudantly, extremely, copiously, ridiculously, redundantly obvious that the Chicken Oscar dish has crab on it when it comes out. That said, there’s no telling whether it was the server’s mistake, and I strongly suspect that it was. Of course, in a tragic situation like this, everyone is going to take firm sides, even the wife, whether she’s telling the truth or lying. It sounds to me like the dude and his wife weren’t paying any attention at all. I imagine Ruby Tuesday might have some sort of insurance to pay out in situations like this?

  86. Khaotix says:

    If you can die from eating something you might want to inform your server of that fact. Also, you might want to familiarize yourself with what that food looks like and what dishes might have it. Maybe that’s just me …

    Could be he didn’t know Oscar means a hollandaise/bearnaise sauce and crab … but crab tastes different than chicken, looks different than chicken, and has a different texture. Kind of odd he didn’t notice any of these issues.

  87. JaguarChick says:

    If he had never eaten at RT before, he may not have any clue what the dish was ‘supposed’ to look like. If the waitstaff brought out a plate and said ‘chicken blahblah’, I know I, along with many of you (although most of you probably wouldn’t admit it)would assume that the dish was what you ordered. Also, he may not have even seen chicken oscar on the menu to know that there were two chicken dishes whose names do sound alike, one of which might be fatal.

    IMO, I’m leaning towards a RT error (not 100%, but more than 50%). I’ve never eaten there, but at every other restaurant I’ve gotten the wrong dish, wrong drink, stuff added, stuff removed, orders not put in at all, and on and on. As for repeating the order multiple times, that’s complete hogwash. Half the time they won’t even verify what you’ve just ordered and just scribble it down on the pad or do the Amazing Kreskin memorization routine.

  88. hatrack says:

    Don’t forget to ask the family of the deceased one question while you’re at it. Did anyone mention to the server that the he was “deathly allergic” to shellfish? If the answer is “no” then this is just a simple accident with deadly consequences. If the answer is “yes” then let the law suits begin!

  89. dragonvpm says:

    @sharkd: WRT the difference in dishes, would you eat something with white tomato sauce without wondering why it’s white and maybe asking your server? His family claims he ordered the dish with tomato sauce, he got the one with crab meat and a white sauce, that’s a pretty noticeable difference (regardless of the size of the crab chunks) and given his lifelong allergy, it should have made him stop and take notice before he ate it.

    @Little Miss Moneybags: I think you gave us a great example of how someone who has specific food requirements would normally act. You ordered something and regardless of what the restaurant says/thinks you ordered, you pretty quickly became aware that something was wrong with your dish because you’re not just going to shovel in whatever they put in front of you.

    However, I think the restaurant has a point to mentioning that they fulfilled the order they thought he wanted rather than messing it up within their own system. It’s one thing if the order is miscommunicated from the waitress to the cooks, it’s a different matter if the customer and the waitress somehow can’t understand each other. Maybe he mumbled, maybe he misspoke and actually said Oscar even if he wanted Fresco (I know I’ve accidentally said the wrong thing when I’m distracted). Ultimately though, they can’t control how a customer places an order, all they can do is try to write it down and verify it and they claim they did.

  90. drfaustus71 says:

    I’m still with the guy yesterday… even more so now…

    Where the bloody hell was his epi-pen?????

    “her brother was allergic to shellfish since childhood”

    I see a lawsuit, requiring all restaurants and grocery stores keep an arsenal of Epi-pens for all our allergy prone peeps. Sheesh!

  91. Hogan1 says:

    @David M:
    Good point. It’s actually fairly common for unscrupulous consumers to feign food illness for profit. We had a few cases of it at a restaurant I worked at years ago when I was a teenager. People will do almost anything to get something free. In any case you’d have to be fairly “uneducated” to not notice that the crab didn’t look like chicken.

  92. vladthepaler says:

    I was buying it until the part about him saying it multiple times. Implausible. Too many lies make it obvious they’re trying to cover something up.

    Maybe it lists the ingredients in the menu, but it never would have occurred to me that chicken would contain shellfish.

  93. harlock_JDS says:


    the Chicken Fresco does not have a tomato sauce on it. It has the exact same sauce that the Chicken Oscar has but is topped with tomatoes instead of asparagus.

    I don’t think this excuses his irresponsibility but does make the mistake more understandable.

  94. I like crab. I like it quite a bit. And crab has a very distinctive seafood smell, whether or not it’s covered in a cream sauce. Hell, I can tell if someone’s having crabcakes a few tables away from me. He had to have smelled it as it was on his plate right in front of him.

    I’m not in the habit of speaking ill of the dead, but this guy doesn’t sound like he was the brightest bulb.

    My wife, for example, hates tomato. She’s not allergic to it, but she won’t eat anything with tomato on it. She meticulously checks her plate when we get food out to make sure there’s no tomato on her burger, in her fajitas, etc. And that’s just something she merely doesn’t LIKE, not something that’s going to kill her. If my wife is that meticulous when it comes to tomatoes, you would think this guy would be a tad more observant when it comes to a fatal allergy.

  95. harlock_JDS says:

    @vladthepaler: it’s clearly listed as an ingredient on the menu.

  96. Shark1998 says:

    I have to side with the restaurant on this one. All their servers are trained to repeat their orders to the customer so mistakes on either party are minimal. Plus, there is a definate difference in appearance between the dishes.

    But, I also do not think the vistim ate it on purpose in an effort to extort money out of the company. Why take the risk?

  97. Shark1998 says:

    @edicius: Especially if he wants to be a rapper…

  98. backbroken says:

    @apotheosis: It’s not waffling and hedging to not immediately assume a defensive posture. And I doubt that Ruby Tuesdays is concerned that a couple dozen snarky commenters are ripping them on The Consumerist.

    Also, apologies for misuse of the word ensure. Should have been ‘assure’. Those kinds of mistakes really irk me and yet there it is in my own comment.

  99. theczardictates says:

    @violettefay: I’m with you. I have a friend who has a severe wheat allergy and she always makes a point of telling the waiter *emphatically* that her meal must have no contact with wheat at all. If the salad has croutons on it, she can’t eat it even if they take the croutons off — just the crumbs from the contact will trigger her!

    And she realizes that the waiter may not always know what dishes might have “hidden” wheat in it, so for instance she will ask whether a salad dressing is thickened with flour, and if the waiter doesn’t know, will ask them to check. And if the waiter shows any doubt, she’ll avoide it. And when her meal arrives, if there’s any doubt whatsoever that it’s exactly what she ordered and entirely wheat-free, she’ll check again.

  100. harryhoody says:

    My wife has a crab allergy and if we ever went to a restaurant that had two similar sounding chicken dishes we would clearly identify her food allergy and make sure the food had no crab in it when it arrived. Buyer beware.

  101. mariospants says:

    I’m surprised nobody accused the victim of attempting to get his meal comped… (“watch this, honey, we’re gonna get our meal for free”). Heck, if – as some people are pointing out – even people with shellfish allergies can tolerate a bite now and then maybe he did it on purpose to get a free meal out of it or even in an attempt to start a lawsuit… and it backfired.

  102. mariospants says:

    oh, one more thing, my dad is allergic to shellfish, and the smell alone turns him off. How did this guy not at least SMELL the crab fumes wafting off of the plate (I mean, it’s not like chicken and pasta has any strong odor). Well, maybe he had a cold, but it’s all a bit fishy to me.

  103. failurate says:

    We need a picture of the Chicken Oscar. How big is their Lump Crab?

  104. dangermike says:

    For some reason, the comment box didn’t appear for me on yesterday’s story. So I’ll say now what I would have then:

    I really only see two likely scenarios that could have played out:

    1) The guy ordered the Chicken Oscar. Maybe he didn’t notice that there was crab meat, or maybe he thought it was Krab meat, as is *usually* the case these days (it’s cheaper and avoids the liability of situations like this)

    2) The guy ordered Chicken Fresco which could have been mistaken by the waitress for Chicken Oscar. The two words are similar enough that they could easily be mistaken in a noisy environment. Whether or not the waitress verified the order is pure speculation by anyone who wasn’t there. Sometimes they check, sometimes they don’t.

    In either of those cases, I honestly can’t say that I’d fault the restaurant or the waitress. If, as they say, the crab meat is visible on top, the guy that ordered the dinner should have recognized that. And I suppose there could be a third case where the waitress intentionally botched the order, but this is a situation where I think Hanlon’s razor applies. Unless there is specific evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the waitress intentionally brought him the Oscar instead of Fresco, I wouldn’t call this anything other than a very unfortunate accident.

  105. aphexbr says:

    A lot of blame going around here. I agree this all seems fishy on the victim’s part – how can you not notice crab topping your chicken? If you don’t see it, how can you not notice after one bite? Did they warn the waitress specifically of the allergy – a good move for anyone with a severe allergy to food on a restaurant’s menu, even if you’re not eating that food. If you’re so allergic that even one bite could kill you, why are you eating at a restaurant that serves shellfish? Even shared oil could cause a reaction! Where the hell was the epi-pen?

    It’s also a little unconvincing on the restaurant side – obviously just because a waitress wrote something down, that doesn’t mean it’s right. I can see how RT would want to fight this – they’ll lose custom over this, and they might as well fight their corner if they honestly believe it wasn’t their mistake. They’re trying to cover tracks with the above statement – i.e. the food noted as ordered was prepared correctly, so the mistake was at the time the order was made, be it either the waitress or customer who made the mistake.

    It’s a horrible accident, but my main feelings go out to the waitress. Nobody expects to turn up at their minimum wage job and end up causing someone’s death. Whether it was a customer trying to stage an accident to claim compensation, or a simple error on the order, we’re all human.

  106. apotheosis says:


    It’s not waffling and hedging to not immediately assume a defensive posture.

    Again: that statement wasn’t to the family, that statement was a response to the GBI. They made an explicit accusation that RT screwed up the order, RT explicitly refuted it.

  107. The customer should have specifically told the waitstaff AT EVERY RESTAURANT he visited about this deathly shellfish allergy. This would be to ensure the grill/oven/etc. was cleaned completely before his entree was cooked, because presumably even juices or small scraps could kill or injure him.

    As far as we know, the customer DID NOT announce the allergy to Ruby Tuesday, and they couldn’t have known how critical it was that he NOT receive shellfish. Therefore the final responsibility sat with the customer to not just eat what was set before him, but to make sure it wasn’t Shellfish.

    Mistakes happen in restaurants. Severely allergic people, above all, should be on guard against such mistakes.

    What if they had just cooked his chicken entree in the same pan, or on the same surface as someone else’s crab meat? He would have had a severe reaction then as well.

    If Ruby Tuesday is found to have brought him an entree he didn’t order, they should certainly pay some compensation for the extreme consequences of a simple error. But the full responsibility does not lie with RT in this case.

  108. Geekybiker says:

    Of course the waitress is “sure” She is afraid of being sued.

  109. backbroken says:

    @apotheosis: I guess my problem is that they just don’t have incontrovertible evidence. They refuted the unsubstantiated claims with their own shaky evidence. It just looks petty, defensive and unsympathetic to me. You can craft a statement that expresses sympathy and doesn’t accept blame. Instead, they’ve smacked the ball back into the Hawkins family’s court and the situation is only going to escalate.

  110. polyeaster says:

    I know I’m allergic to strawberries, and I am always vigilant about it, even if I order dishes without- I’ve been to Panera bread and had them cross contaminate my sandwich, but I catch those types or errors.

  111. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Perhaps someone else at the table ordered Oscar and the server placed the plate in front of the wrong person.

  112. bbagdan says:

    Errors happen in busy restaurants all the time.

    If the guy has a life-threatening allergy, it is his own responsibility to take all precautions, and triple check his food before he eats it.

    The restaurant needs only one jury member who has ever been accidentally served the wrong dish.

  113. seismic007 says:

    Shame on You, Consumerist, for sensationalizing this story. Ruby Tuesday’s story is “improbable?” Have you ever worked at a restaurant? Have you ever dealt with the public in general? People don’t read descriptions, signs, or listen to instructions. I am a pharmacist, and have had [repeatedly] occur where I have said, “Mrs. Jones, your prescription is ready;” only to have Mr. Smith come to the counter and try to claim it. And anyone with a life-long food allergy should be carrying an Epi-Pen, for use in an event such as this. It is very sad that this happened, but we are human and accidents do happen. It is much easier to blame than to accept this fact.

  114. HeartBurnKid says:

    @stre: No, I’d say that that looks very much like shellfish of some stripe (crab, lobster, possibly scallops) topping that chicken. Seriously, that one’s pretty obvious.

  115. shorty63136 says:

    1 – I’ve never had a server at a restaurant REPEAT my order to me – more than once, especially. Drive-thru window? Yes. Table and chairs setting? No. Not buying RT’s story on that one. They just don’t do that.

    2 – I’m sure that these two dishes might look VERY different on the menu where it’s all pretty and Photoshopped and whatnot. But I’m more likely inclined to believe – especially at a place like Ruby Tuesday’s…not that I have anything against them – that the dish did not come out of the kitchen and onto the man’s table exactly as it would’ve appeared in a photo on the menu. In-restaurant, they’re more likely to slap it on a plate where he MAY NOT have been able to identify crab meat in the dish without doing a small amount of dissecting and inspection.

    I DO believe that it was a mistake, but I don’t believe that this man knowingly did this – or that his wife allowed him to. Not buying it.

  116. Shadowman615 says:

    You know, I was always a picky eater as a kid. Well, even somewhat today, actually. I wish I was armed with this kind of information back when my parents used to tell me something like “C’mon, eat your shrimp. A little seafood never killed anyone.”

  117. Suaveydavey says:

    Years ago when I waited tables (at the last supper), I would say the name of the entrée as it was placed in front of the customer, so it was clear what the customer was about to eat. Not placing blame, but how many aspiring welders/rappers are such gourmands to know ‘Oscar’ generally refers to meat topped with asparagus and crabmeat? Does RT’s menu offer visual cues ala BigBoy? It’s a shame he didn’t have http://www.studystack.com/studytable-101718

  118. “She hopes that Ruby Tuesday accepts responsibility and does whatever is necessary to see that this doesn’t happen again,” said Chicago attorney Joseph Leonardi, speaking on behalf of the Hawkins family.

    What would Ruby Tuesday be able to do? Require customers to disclose any known food allergies before ordering? Verbally repeat the ingredients of each ordered dish to verify that what the server heard is what the customer thinks it is? (Or maybe it’s a threat: If he sues Ruby Tuesday out of existence, you can bet it’ll never happen again.)

    I’m being facetious here, but I honestly can’t think of what they can do other than 1) training their staff about allergies and 2) providing detailed ingredient lists. Both of these would only reduce inevitable customer or server or kitchen errors if the customer vigilantly announces any allergies.

    @stre: Looks more like chicken with little pieces of chicken on top.

    “I’ll have the chicken garnished with bits of chicken”? I have never heard of such a dish, but I could be wrong.

  119. dragonvpm says:

    @harlock_JDS: My bad, I completely misread that. Yeah, that does make it easier to see how he might not have noticed a visible difference.

    That does create an interesting problem. I know I’ve occasionally been served the wrong dish when they look very similar. I’m not really sure what you could do to resolve that possible problem. Right now, it seems that standard practice is to have whoever has the food restrictions talk to the restaurant/waiter so that they can make accommodations for their condition.

    Ultimately regardless of what he ordered it seems that he should have made the effort to tell the waitress that he had a food allergy and that he could not eat crab. Ideally they should have had an exchange like:

    C:”Hi, I’d like the Chicken _____, but I need to make sure it doesn’t have crab/shellfish/etc… because I’m allergic”

    W:”Umm… well the Chicken Oscar comes with crab on it…”

    C:”Oh, ummm, I said I wanted the Chicken Fresca…” or “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t read that, then I’ll have…”

    etc… it’s fair for the staff to help make sure you don’t get something you’re allergic to if you tell them, but if they don’t have that information then I really don’t see how they could be found negligent and actually liable for his death (regardless of whether or not they brought out the wrong dish).

  120. usmcmoran says:

    How can you all be so blind? this man was destined to be a rap great and had to be taken out. conspiracy theories will abound but we all kno the government was behin this , think tupac and notorious big. they clearly switched his food and coached everyone there as to what was said….but seriously bring an epi pen if someting can kill you.

  121. Trai_Dep says:

    But we don’t like to speculate, we leave that to the commenters.

    Ohhh – snarky! :)

  122. samurailynn says:

    It seems like someone with a serious food allergy would tell the waitress about it, to make sure that no seafood accidentally ended up on their plate.

    When I was a server, I wrote in such a scribbled hurry that I doubt anyone but me could say for sure what I had written on my order pad.

    Servers and customers both make mistakes. Sometimes customers forget what they ordered, but assume that it must be theirs because it came to their table.

    I don’t think either party is at fault, but I would take it as a warning to people with food allergies to be very careful at restaurants and to clearly state your allergies to the staff so that you don’t end up getting something deadly.

  123. Heresy Of Truth says:

    As someone with Celiac Disease, I am terrified of restaurants. I have to explain to every waitress that I am unable to eat anything with gluten in it. Then I get to explain what that is. Then I sometimes get directed to go explain what that is the the cooks. Then I get handed packages to read ingredients to make sure wheat, barley, and rye are not in it.

    I can’t imagine someone with that kind of allergy not mentioning it. Mine won’t kill me instantly, just hurt a lot, and I go through the motions ever single time I eat out. (I do tip well to compensate for the extra hassle because I know how irritating things like that can be.)

    For me, I really only eat at sushi places anymore because it’s hard to get gluten on rice and fish.

  124. louiedog says:

    @FrenchBenj: Nobody is deathly allergic to cats. Also, for some reason they don’t let you pet the tigers, so it’s not an issue.

  125. awolcfh5150 says:

    I’ve read this story a few times and at first I blamed Ruby Tuesday’s. I didn’t buy the waitress wrote down the order, blah, blah, blah. The more I read and think about this though I’m thinking that the blame goes on the customer. The picture in the menu for the Chicken Fresco shows tomatoes on top and the item he got had none. That should have been the 1st clue he got the wrong thing (if he did indeed order that). Also the smell of the dish would have been different and like everyone else has said he would smell the shellfish before eating it. My feeling is that he may have done this on purpose looking for some type of payday from RT’s and gone on with his life. Unfortunately the scam he tried to run on the restaurant killed him!

  126. drjayphd says:

    Back when I saw the first story, I’d figured that if Ruby Tuesday’s management was smart, they’d approach his family with an open wallet and open arms. Guess they’re, uhm, not.

  127. drjayphd says:

    @Michael Belisle: Possibly disclose on the menu if a dish contains relatively common fatal allergens, such as nuts or shellfish. A little icon, mayhaps?

  128. RulesLawyer says:

    @Git Em SteveDave has a new Lego set wrote, sarcastically:

    I mean, it was only 4 days, why shouldn’t they have an attorney?

    Maybe because Ruby Tuesday already has several?

  129. deserter says:

    I’ll add a vote to the side that says: I have ordered the Chicken Oscar before, because I happen to love crab meat, but I can definitely see how someone who was not familiar with crab meat would not be able to tell that it was in the dish. And the cream sauce, as far as I remember, is the overriding aroma of the dish… crab really doesn’t smell that strong or as ‘fishy’ as many other shellfish or fish dishes. Also, in the few times I have gotten it, it has ranged from ‘Giant obvious lump of crab’ to ‘miniscule shards of crab that look kind of like the lumps in bleu cheese dressing.’

    So I think that it is quite likely that the customer wasn’t being stupid or reckless, personally.

  130. @drjayphd: Warnings are good when it’s not obvious (or required by law). But

    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. Warning: May contain shellfish, dairy ingredients.

    seems redundant.

    I’d say that maybe a note requesting that the customer inform their server of any allergies would be in order, but then again a customer with allergies shouldn’t need a reminder to take basic precautions to save own their life.

  131. drjayphd says:

    @dangermike: Comments got closed. Ben’s comment at the end, about the wild speculation of how much crab was on there, what was going through Rodney’s head at the time, etc. explained why he shut it down.

    @mariospants: That’s because you didn’t have 1:17 PM in the pool. Also, you missed David M‘s comment. :P

    @punkrawka: Which was pretty much my theory: the waitress just hears the wrong dish and made a tragic mistake. Occam’s Razor much, people? :)

    @linus: …and yet, there’s still a goodly chunk of victim-blaming going around. Funny, although I can only imagine the blasting this guy would’ve gotten before the new code.

    @veverkap: Bubba Sparxxx, obviou–wait, what? ;)

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: I think you mean “you’re supposed to blame the big corporation unless there’s a spectacularly contrived way to pin it on the customer, or the corporation’s on our naughty list, in which case, YOU HAD IT COMING. At least that’s before, for this is The New Consumerist (which is, oddly enough, nothing like The New No Limit Records, alas…).

  132. dianabanana says:

    @donkeyjote: I’m exactly like you. My allergies to shrimp (no other shellfish, just shrimp) started when I was in my teens, but I can’t stay away from the stuff. I usually break out in minor hives on my face, so it’s usually not a big deal and I still eat it.

    But about a month ago, I didn’t think much about it and ate at Red Lobster ordering the shrimp & lobster plate. I had a serious, severe allergic reaction 3 hours later. My entire body was covered in tons of hives, my face, lips and tongue were all swollen. It was probably one of the scariest moments of my life, and I nearly went to the emergency room but calmed down and stopped myself since my throat wasn’t closing off or anything.

    I imagine this guy went through the same situation, except his allergic reaction was way faster reacting than mine was, and now everyone is just covering their asses. It’s really a sad thing all around.

  133. delphi_ote says:

    You people need to actually look this dish. It is not at ALL obvious that it contains crab meat.

  134. bria says:

    I’ve worked in restaurants before and though a little OT, I think it’s relevant.
    If you have a very serious/life threatening allergy, call the restaurant before you go. Get the name of the person you’re talking to, or a person that will be there when you go, and be very clear with your waitress/the manager that this could cause DEATH. It’s very helpful for the restaurant to be able to prepare ahead of time.

  135. mallberg says:

    Seems like people are more willing to entertaining the idea that the waitress mistakenly wrote down the wrong order instead of the customer saying the wrong thing? Having been a waiter in high school and college, there were plenty of times the customer ordered, I read back the order, and the customer confirmed. I would bring out the food, and no one complained. A few minutes later, after taking a few bites, the customer would get my attention to inform me what I brought was not what he ordered. I would usually rattle off the order and get my pad out to confirm. The customer would argue “that is not what I said” so I would agree to change it. Almost every time as I was walking back to the kitchen I would hear someone else at the table tell the arguing customer they did say what I had brought. I am not saying I didn’t make mistakes, but I was familiar with the menu, where a customer who scanned it once was more likely to say one item when they meant another.

  136. harlock_JDS says:


    i agree it was a tragic mistake. I just don’t see the ‘wrong’ from RT here unless we think that every restaurant should treat every dish being made as if it’s for someone with a life treating allergy.

    I think it’s more practice for the minority with such a condition to take at least basic steps to warn people and protect themselves (like informing restaurants of said problem) rather than to treat everyone as if they had this issue.

    I’d have no problem putting full blame on the restaurant if they had been informed of the problem but apparently the family didn’t even bother doing that and thus have to take a good chunk of the responsibility.

  137. @backbroken: How about … “We will continue to examine the circumtances of this tragedy in an effort to determine if any changes need to be made to ensure this doesn’t happen again. We will share these findings with other retail food establishments.”

    I am not a PR person, but your statement implies to me that Ruby Tuesday does not dispute the chain of events and borders on acknowledging fault (since they’re reexamining their practices). That’s fine, unless they do dispute them.

    I think “We are examining the circumstances of this tragedy and have no comment at this time,” would at least allow the story to fade from the public eye before they start the pissing contest.

    @drjayphd: I’d figured that if Ruby Tuesday’s management was smart, they’d approach his family with an open wallet and open arms. Guess they’re, uhm, not.

    Why pay if you don’t think you’re responsible? And how much is a man’s life worth these days? There’s no Warsaw Convention for death by food allergy in a restaurant. It could be very expensive.

  138. MacMasterShane says:

    I’m putting this one squarely on the deceased.
    From Ruby Tuesday’s Website:
    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.
    i have eaten this dish, it’s EXACTLY as it’s described. it’s a big ass lump of crab meat on top of a piece of chicken. smell nothing, you can SEE the crab meat, and it’s blatantly obvious that it’s not chicken, as illustrated right below the crab meat your eating.

    there are pictures of the dish he allegedly ordered, and it’s considerably different, being topped with tomatoes and sauce, nothing even resembling a chunk of crab meat.

    after working in customer service as long as i have, this comes as no surprise. hell, I’m surprised some of the people i talk to are competent enough to FEED THEMSELVES.

  139. hexychick says:

    @stre: That’s a great example of how visually someone might mistake the crab for chicken on chicken, but fresco has tomatoes on it.

    The picture of Chicken Fresco is right on this page: [www.rubytuesday.com] Fresco has tomatoes, Oscar has crab. I don’t see how you don’t notice the missing tomatoes unless, because of the salmonella outbreak freakout, they chose not to serve tomatoes at that restaurant that day/week. Missing information.

    I still think something big is missing from this story because I don’t get how you mistake crab’s odor and texture for chicken. We don’t know how much he ate, why he didn’t notice, and why the mistake was made in the first place. Either way, I’m convinced that there’s a lot missing from this story and RT is just trying to cover their ass.

  140. sean77 says:

    I can see the phrase “chicken oscar” being said 3 times.

    Customer: I’d like the chicken oscar
    Waitress: one chicken oscar


    Waitress: here’s your chicken oscar.

    That’s pretty much how it works at every restaurant I’ve been to.

  141. flynnt says:

    @civis: I’m appalled that you blame the victim. You clearly do not know what it is like to live with a food allergy. I am allergic to shellfish. And yes, I’m generally careful when I go to restaurants. The articles do not have enough information to place the blame on anyone yet. Did he order the wrong dish? Did the waitress write down the wrong dish? Did he say he was allergic? Did he know he was deathly allergic? Or did the previously only have mild reactions? None of that is known.

    I have avoided seafood all my life. Unfortunately, that also means I’m not always the best equipped to determine that there’s seafood in something just by looking at it. People sneak seafood in to the most innocent looking things: fried prawns that look like chicken wings, shrimp bits in bread (what’s this pink stuff in the bread??), “vegetarian” egg rolls that’s sealed with crab paste (wtf? how is that vegetarian??), hot sandwich with cheese and translucent “crab strips” that look like cooked onions.

    I looked at the pictures of the two entrees, and they look practically the same to me. Yeah, one has tomatoes on it. The tomatoes could’ve gotten left off for all he knew…or they weren’t significant to him. The “crab meat” looks like potatoes to me.
    And they probably would’ve slid off the chicken during transit.
    So, you’re left with two dishes of chicken with white sauce on top that look identical. I could totally see how he could dive into the chicken without knowing it is covered in death.

  142. snakeskin33 says:

    It’s an accident. It’s a terrible, tragic accident, in which the server, at worst, did something that is absolutely unavoidable no matter how careful you are, which is to occasionally mishear or misunderstand someone. The customer, at worst, wasn’t as careful as he could have been about disclosing his allergy — although he may not have known the severity of it at all, meaning he had no reason to disclose it.

    People aren’t perfect; this is, I think, legitimately an accident based on an incredibly unfortunate collision of events. What RT has produced is literally all the evidence they could possibly produce if what they were saying were entirely true — yes, they could be doctoring the evidence and everyone could be lying, but this is all they’d have to defend themselves if they weren’t lying, and you simply can’t know. It seems improbable that the guy would order something with crabmeat, but it also seems improbable that he would eat it when it arrived.

    Something happened, one way or the other, that’s improbable. It’s not necessary for either the victim or the restaurant to be blamed; it’s a tragedy, plain and simple, and not every tragedy requires someone to be deserving of condemnation.

    On a lighter note, the idea that it would be logical to conclude that what you had been served was “chicken topped with small pieces of chicken” made me laugh out loud.

  143. theysaidwhat says:

    @mmstk101: I’m wondering if he didn’t understand that allergic reactions can become progressively more severe with each exposure to the allergen. But you’d think one of his doctors would have suggested he carry an Epi-Pen after all these years. Who knows. But it sounds as though this guy may not have understood that a bothersome allergy yesterday could become a deadly one today…

  144. james says:

    Please! Everyday orders takers screw up constantly and this one just happened to be fatal.

    How many times have each of us argued with waitstaff over what we ordered or did not order.
    I have diabetes and have gotten sugar soda on more than one occasion and I always make the server repeat “Diet Coke”.

    Total BS, they just don’t want to pay out. Actually I am not sure they should pay out, it seems like the server was the one to screw up. Wouldn’t that be involuntary manslaughter?

  145. Gopher bond says:

    I hate shellfish. Ugh, blech, tastes like ugh, I don’t even want to think up a metaphor. No one has ever slipped shellfish passed me, ever, in ANYTHING in ANY amount. I can’t count the number of times I took some dip on a cracker and even before biting down I’ve spit it out telling my wife “Icky food!” She says she can’t taste it so we go to the person that made it and ask if there’s seafood in the dip and I’ll get answers like “Only a few processed shrimp, or only a teaspoon of CLAM juice,” followed by “You can taste it?”

    Ugh, ugh ugh. But my point is, I’m not even allergic, I just find it repulsive.

  146. Julia9999999 says:

    Fresco…Oscar…loud restaurant? Sounds to me like the waitress heard one instead of the other. They can sound the same when spoken in a loud environment.

  147. IchabodCrane says:

    Wait, my finely tuned senses tell me there is someone wrong on the internets! ;P

    It is not suspicious for the wait staff to repeat an order three or more times. It never happened to you because you treat the wait staff as a human being. Anyone who has ever waited tables knows about “that guy.” That guy who does not acknowledge you, that guy who does not make eye contact, that guy who does not even look you in the face as they order. This requires, no this demands you have to repeat the order several times to make sure you heard them correctly. I’ve had customers who not only refuse to look at me, but don’t even look at the food as they start to eat. They’re usually focused on the line of bullsh*t they’re using to impress their date. There have been times I swear I could have slipped them a urnial cake on a plate without them knowing it.

    Was this customer a “that guy” I can’t say, but it sure would explain alot. Anyway, leave the wait person out of this. “Something” happened and a man’s dead. The server is not going to be able to forget that for the rest of their life.

  148. snakeskin33 says:

    If I’m recalling correctly, involuntary manslaughter requires either recklessness (which requires that you ignore a risk on purpose, and isn’t even close to satisfied here) or criminal negligence, which basically requires that they prove that you didn’t exercise reasonable care. Making a mistake does not prove that you didn’t exercise reasonable care; you can exercise reasonable care and still make a mistake. I haven’t seen anything here that would even come close to supporting criminal charges against anybody. A person behaving reasonably can still make a mistake, which is why not every mistake is a crime, even if it has terrible consequences.

  149. Errors can and will exist at every level.

    Customer gets confused. Keeps repeating “Don’t order A, instead order B” and then orders A after all.

    Waitress confusion, at the time of the order or at the time the order is entered. And how many times have we seen a waitress REFUSE to write down your order.

    Kitchen confusion.

    Delivery confusion (serving wrong meal to customer).

    And then there is responsibility. Was the waitress informed? Really informed? Was the customer extra viligant against possible errors?

    There is so much blame and potential for error on both sides of the issue that I do not want to serve on the jury when this thing goes to trail. And we know this one will be going to trial.

  150. @james:

    Same here.

    I tell the wait staff “Diet”. I never mention the word “Coke” anymore. Just too many screw ups when I mention both words.

  151. lingum says:

    I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Ruby Tuesday for ridding us of “an aspiring rapper.”

  152. picardia says:

    @edicius: And therefore, in a crowded restaurant, the guy might believe the crabmeat smell was coming from a nearby table. Possibly even someone else at the same table was having crabmeat (on purpose) and he chalked it up to that.

    I’ve had my order taken incorrectly a number of times. And back when I was in college and waiting tables, yeah, I took the wrong order a couple of times. Restaurants are crowded and noisy, and “Fresco” and “Oscar” have the same distinctive SK sound in the middle, suggesting a high probability of confusion.

    I think blaming this guy is ridiculous — and this is coming from someone who thinks the restaurant’s error is simply a tragic mistake, and no cause for litigation.

  153. james says:

    You are probably right, unless he told her he had a food allergy to shellfish in which case it may not be so clear cut.

    Good thinking. I generally try to stick to iced-tea (which is always served without sugar in CA) or water as too much Aspartame may not be good.

  154. tande04 says:

    I’m surprised the idea of the order being repeated seems so foreign to some people.

    I can’t think of a restaurant I’ve been to where the don’t say it at least three times, not to mention any additional comments that will usually be snuck in (“oh you’ll love the Chicken Oscar, I just had it last night”). As many have pointed out they’ll almost always say it when they put it down to, because if nothing else, the waiter and the server always seem to have two different ideas of how the guest numbering works so they’ll usually have to ask “who had the ______” when they bring it out.

    I think its just going to be one of those things where you aren’t going to get to blame some one in the end, and you’ll never know the exact story. Nothing about RT’s story sounds unbelievable, nothing about the wife’s story sounds unbelievable.

  155. Tiber says:

    “I’m allergic to [insert food item here] and I am always extremely careful and not at all complacent. Therefore, it is completely implausible that some other guy I’ve never met made a simple mistake. He must be incredibly stupid.”

    Come on people! Judging by the pic, I can’t tell that that’s crab meat. I don’t really eat crab though, but then again, neither does this guy. Also, the waitress can make mistakes, but the guy can’t? Yes, issues of life and death you pay more attention to, but nothing is immune to complacency.

    “How could this guy not have noticed the tomato! He should have memorized the ingredients and noticed that it was slightly off!”

    Who really notices the lack of a tomato anyway? Especially if you’re hungry.

    Do I think it was a mistake? Yes.
    Do I think RT shouldn’t be going into CYA mode? Yes.

    Why does everyone seem so hard on the guy over a mistake, yet are willing to forgive the waitress? His mistake was bigger, but there is no mistake that can not be made.

  156. litho says:

    I am very allergic to peanuts, am very careful about what I order at restaurants and what I put in my mouth, and I carry an epipen everywhere. The odor of peanuts completely turns me off, and even if I get a bite of something in my mouth that has peanuts, I can usually tell immediately and can spit it out before it’s been swallowed.

    That being said, a few years ago I landed in emergency after eating a slice of gourmet pizza… barbecue pizza… Thai barbecue pizza to be exact (unbeknown to me). Now not all Thai food has peanuts in it, but for some reason Thai peanut barbecue sauce almost completely masks the odor and taste so doesn’t trigger my defenses and is really delicious. Therefore I completely avoid Thai restaurants. Because I didn’t know the pizza (brought in to work) was ‘Thai’ barbecue, I had eaten the entire slice before I knew it was peanut. Luckily we were close to the hospital as I was having major breathing difficulty by the time we got there.

    Having said all that I could imagine the victim may not have noticed the crab. Particularly with the skimpy amounts of seafood you get at some restaurants, and if, say, a nearby table was eating seafood.

  157. TwoScoopsRice says:

    Unspoiled crab out of the shell doesn’t have much smell. The time I had this dish at RT, the crab was rendered into little threads. Disappointing, so I’ve never had it again.

    Now, unless you were particularly looking forward to a condiment — such as the tomatoes — you might not notice their absence. I remember once eating at an upscale spot. Crab sandwich, actually, but I digress. I felt halfway through the sandwich that something was missing. Duh, it was. Nice fresh avocado, and it was part of the reason I’d ordered that sandwich. So I don’t fault the deceased for not noticing the tomato or absence thereof.

    Unfathomable to me, however, why he had no epi-pen. I have 2 friends who carry them and have told me where they keep them, how to use them, etc.

  158. @picardia: @Tiber: Blaming the guy is ridiculous, but not because he’s necessary blameless.

    It’s ridiculous because nobody has any idea what actually transpired. We have 3 or 4 sentences, a few statements in a news story. What happened during that fateful meal? Who screwed up? Whose fault was it? Is somebody lying or mistaken? Nobody knows.

    It’s just as ridiculous as blaming the restaurant, the server, the weather, the menu, or “fresco” vs. “oscar”.

    @TwoScoopsRice: Check the story. It never says there was or was not an EpiPen. It isn’t always enough to save someone.

  159. brian25 says:

    Sounds like a case of he said, she said. It would be neat if they had a video of the guy pointing to the menu as he talked to the waitress.

  160. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @Hobz: Bless you, I thought this bit of sarcasm was also going to waste :)
    You have made my day by noticing.

  161. Leohat says:

    It doesn’t really matter what Ruby Tuesdays says in response, they are going to be sued for a bazillion dollars. (and they’ll most likely lose) they might as well say “We really like bassett hounds and are committed to the colour blue” for all the good it will do them.

  162. willray411 says:

    okay. I have friends who are mildly allergic to shellfish and they are very careful about where they go out to eat, and ask the waiter/waitress what is on the plate. They never take the chance.

  163. BrockBrockman says:

    “Fresco” and “Oscar” sound similar.

    Ruby Tuesday’s food does not always look, taste or smell like it should. Crab meat could easily have not looked or smelled like crab meat. You’ve seen pictures of “food as advertised” vs. “food as it really is” here on Consumerist before.

  164. SchuylerH says:

    Once when I was a young ‘un, my family and I were eating in a Friendly’s. My father ordered for me, then ordered me a small Coke, despite the fact that I didn’t like Coke. So as the waitress was walking away to put in the order, I started making all sorts of noise that I didn’t want a Coke, I wanted an orange soda. So my father shouts to the waitress that instead of a small Coke, we want an orange soda. The waitress asks back, “Orange?” and we all shout “Orange” in unison.

    She brings me a large Coke.

    If “large” and “orange” could be confused (by both the waitress and my family), it’s not hard to imagine that the waitress could have been repeating “Oscar?” and the victim “Fresco” and they were suffering a mutual lack of communication.

  165. FishtownYo says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: That was a great post. I almost spit out my non shellfish dinner after your last sentence…

  166. aristan says:

    @Rachacha: “Imitation Crab” is white fish, which is generally bland, that is soaked in the liquid boiled out of crab meat. So crab is an ingredient of Imitation Crab.

    If the diner thought the dish has imitation crab in it (which is likely), he may have eaten it, unaware of that fact. However, Ruby Tuesday’s website clearly states that Chicken Oscar contains Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, which is from the hind section of a blue crab. It has nearly the same texture as imitation crab meat and is pretty much what Imitation Crab is… well… imitating.

    It’s also not the result of a recipe change (A move from imitation crab to real crab), because Ruby Tuesday’s website was updated with the addition of Chicken Oscar around Jan 27th of 2007, which featured “Grilled, fresh 10 oz. chicken breast topped with fresh, jumbo lump crabmeat, asparagus tips and a lemon butter sauce.”


  167. Crabfeast says:

    Yeah… I’m gonna go ahead and stay away from this discussion.

  168. EdnaLegume says:

    Unless the man told RT he had a life threatening allergy to seafood/crab, then holding them accountable is wrong. I seriously doubt they had the intention of killing this man.

    It’s a mistake that unfortunately had a fatal result. But there are so many variables here it’s just not fair to blame RT.

  169. Sachlichkeit says:

    If you are deathly allergic to a food item, it is YOUR responsability to make that allergy known to the waitstaff. Restaurants frequently cook shellfish, fish, steak, chicken, veggies on one grill (mine does). On a busy night with orders flying in and out of the kitchen, mistakes can and do happen.

    My sister is also allergic to shellfish, and when she eats out she ASKS the waitress if the grill used to cook her steak is also used to cook mussels/shrimp/salmon/calamari etc– Especially if she’s at a restaurant like Ruby Tuesdays with underpaid, overworked staff that probably serves over 500 people a night. She also checks her meal when it arrives. And she always carries an epi-pen.

    From what I’ve read, the man did none of these things.

  170. aristan says:

    @Sachlichkeit: “My sister is also allergic to shellfish, and when she eats out she ASKS the waitress if the grill used to cook her steak is also used to cook mussels/shrimp/salmon/calamari etc– Especially if she’s at a restaurant like Ruby Tuesdays with underpaid, overworked staff that probably serves over 500 people a night.”

    I once worked in a small restaurant (not a chain) that was consistently voted “Best Veggie Burger” in town.

    Yeah, they were great because they cooked them on the same grill as the burgers and soaked up all the delicious beef fat.

  171. parkerjh says:

    WalrusTaco HAS IT PERFECTLY! enough said.

    WalrusTaco at 10:12 AM

    After 8+ years of waiting tables, I can tell you-

    1: Waiters write down the wrong order all the time
    2: Customers ask for the wrong order all the time
    3: It is common for waiters to repeat the order
    4: Even after waiters repeat the order, miscommunication still exists
    5: You should ALWAYS disclose your allergies before ordering if you know they should be life threatening

  172. drdom says:

    I’ll let everyone else deal with the did he or didn’t he thing. Don’t people with serious allergies carry an Epi-Pen? My neighbor is allergic to nuts. He has to be careful at restaurants even when the dish he orders does not contain them. And he carries Epi in case of accidents. If you have these allergies, you would think one would take precautions.

  173. ian937262 says:

    I work at Red Lobster. We deal with seafood allergies all the time. People are either idiots or daredevils by coming to a seafood joint if they are allergic. People DO mix up what they order all the time. Ruby Tuesday’s version is not that out of the ordinary. It wasn’t the server’s fault if it was a dish mix up so she would have no reason to lie about it… especially if they have her written form and an account of the story

  174. ian937262 says:

    err… maybe it was a suicide.

  175. baristabrawl says:

    Why didn’t this guy carry an Epi-Pen? I have one and I’ve only had a reaction to a wasp sting once when I was 8. Now I’m 35. They’re almost always on me.

    I hate when people say, “I can’t stick myself with a needle.” Well, then I guess you’re going to die. Dying is so much better than a tiny needle stick, don’t you agree? Common sense, people.

  176. baristabrawl says:

    @ian937262: Isn’t this stupid? I don’t go to bee farms for honey, because I’m allergic to stings. Isn’t it the same thing?

  177. Coldfish says:

    This is a tragedy no matter what your viewpoint or blame is intended to be. There is no indication that anyone purposely intended to harm the guest. There is also very little information specific to the incident that anyone knows right now.
    To outright throw around accusations against the guest or the restaurant without any REAL knowledge of FACTS is both presumtious and futile. Is touting what you think going to bring this man back to life, or “bring down the corparate man”? No. This story involves real people in real situations. You can’t just toss the obligatory torch at the server who is trying to make ends meet just like you and I.
    The sad part is that the people truely affected by this sad ordeal will have to think about it much longer than anyone who spent 45 secs posting about it here. Because next week when you are blogging about some other hot topic, people still exist that were crushed in real life, doing real things, that you never had the misfortune of dealing with yourself.

  178. Teapotfox says:

    @backbroken: “I guess my problem is that they just don’t have incontrovertible evidence. They refuted the unsubstantiated claims with their own shaky evidence.”

    Well, to be completely fair, here, what other evidence could they have, apart from what they listed? It’s not as though restaurant order conversations are recorded for posterity. It sounds to me like they performed their own investigation and shared the results… a reasonable and responsible action for them to take in a case that is both delicate and potentially very damaging.

  179. Teapotfox says:

    @HeartBurnKid: Along with most of the other commenters who have eaten this dish, I agree. I have had the Chicken Oscar at Ruby Tuesday’s, and the picture is pretty much spot on with how mine looked. It is, to me, very apparent that it is topped with seafood, such as crab or scallop.

    It seems most likely to me, given the limited information we have, that this is indeed just a tragic accident. Maybe RT did make a mistake. Mistakes happen everywhere, and usually even in a restaurant setting, they are fixable and non-lethal. But I do feel the poor man who met his end this way has to share in at least a smidge of the responsibility. At best, he was negligent in not informing the server about his deadly allergy or perhaps not paying closer attention to what he was consuming… but I’m not going to accuse anyone of suicide and/or attempted fraud by purposeful consumption.

  180. mythago says:

    I think what happened is the family planned on eating it, having an allergic reaction, then suing RT’s for tons of $ but the dying part was a mistake.

    Right, because people with severe food allergies are SO good at gaming exactly how much it takes to get a little sick, but not die. Please feel free to take this gamble yourself to find out just how idiotic your post was. Just because you see a family member’s death as a lottery ticket doesn’t mean everyone does.

    I’ve been around people with food issues (not always allergies, just preferences) who have specificially and clearly asked “can you tell me if this has X in it, the menu isn’t clear” or “I can’t eat X so can I please get this order and not the other one,” and they STILL GET THE WRONG FOOD. Sometimes waiters mess up. Sometimes they lie or don’t bother to check.

  181. Cerb says:

    I have a friend with Celiacs Disease, an allergy to wheat gluten. Whenever we go out to eat he mentions repeatedly that he is allergic to wheat and cannot eat anything thats even been close to bread crumbs and the worse that happens when he eats it is a bad case of GI upset. If this guy had an allergy that could kill him so easily, he probably should have been a little more proactive with his own dietary safety. I mean seriously, I’ve gotten the wrong thing more than once and having waited tables, I know that it can be quite easy to give someone the wrong thing or take down the wrong order. I can’t fault the waiter or Ruby Tuesdays here. The guy should have paid more attention to what he was eating. Further, I know I will probably have a response like “way to blame the victim” BUT COME ON, people – including consumers – can be fucking morons. I think it’s just as possible that he ordered the wrong thing as it is that the waiter wrote down the wrong order.

  182. I find it hard to believe this guy didn’t notice, I mean it’s not like he was a little allergic… he was fatally allergic which debunks the whole “he ordered it” story.

    Sucks either way.

  183. RvLeshrac says:


    How about “defending themselves.”

    If someone were to set their dog under your tire, then threaten to sue you after you ran over it, wouldn’t you want to be sure that it was your fault BEFORE you admitted liability?

    Same basic concepts apply here. RT may have been at fault, but it is, frankly, equally likely that the customer was at fault. I’ve been in plenty of restaurants where I’ve overheard someone at the next table say, several minutes after ordering, “What’s in that? …… Oh, I’m allergic to X, could you Y Z?”

    If they are at fault, they deserve to pay – but the company is allowed just as much due process as the individual.

  184. Rider says:

    Not the restaurants fault. If you have an allergy that is deadly it is your job to inform the restaurant. In most cases you will get the following answer “Sorry but we can not guarantee that our food has not come in contact with what you are allergic to so we recommend you do not dine here.”

    Mistakes happen, if you have a deadly food allergy it’s your job to avoid the mistakes.