DALLAS — A woman and her daughter are suing Taco Bell after employees at one of the restaurants in Dallas allegedly dumped a bucket of boiling water on them, causing severe burns and brain function damage.
Lawyers for the victims are asking for more than $1 million in damages from the defendants: Yum! Brands, Taco Bell Corp., Taco Bell of America, North Texas Bells and the two unidentified employees allegedly involved, who are named in the suit as John Doe and Jane Doe. The victims are being represented by Ben Crump and Paul Grinke.
The incident allegedly occurred June 17 when Brittany Davis and her daughter, a minor child identified in the lawsuit only as C.T., entered the Taco Bell at 11829 Abrams Road.
"Our hearts break for these two victims whose lives are forever changed because of the horrific and damaging actions by the Taco Bell manager and the larger entities that failed to protect the safety of their customers," Crump and Grinke wrote in a news release. "Not only did Brittany and C.T. suffer physical trauma because of the burns, but they will now live with the psychological trauma that comes with an attack like this. Corporations have a duty to employ quality and stable employees who hold safety as the highest priority."
After their $31 order had been prepared twice incorrectly in the drive-thru, the two customers entered the Taco Bell with their receipt and food bag, with an employee letting them into a dining room and locking the door behind them, according to the lawsuit.
After discussing the order with these two customers for nearly 10 minutes, the lawsuit claims that the employees refused to prepare the food they had paid for and became "combative."
"Inexplicably, the Taco Bell manager, a Hispanic female, (Jane Doe) who had not been involved in any of the conversations in the dining room, came from behind the counter with a scalding bucket of water and poured it onto C.T. and Brittany," the suit reads. "This water hit C.T. in the face and chest with the boiling water running down her body and soaking into her clothes. Ms. Davis was also hit by the water in the chest."
The two victims claim they then tried to run out of the Taco Bell, screaming -- but the door had been locked. While they were trying to unlock the door, the suit states, the manager came back with a second bucket of boiling water to throw on them, but the two were able to escape beforehand.
The suit says the two victims ran to their car and C.T. began taking off her clothes to try and minimize the burning, while her mother began having seizures due to the trauma.
"As this family was leaving the parking lot, a Taco Bell employee came outside the front door, laughing, clapping, and taunting the family—adding insult to horrific injury," the suit states.
According to the suit, C.T. then ran into the emergency room naked to get help for her mother, who was still suffering seizures and burns from not being able to take her clothes off. Davis's clothes had to be cut off with the skin still attached by hospital staff, the suit claims, and she was then care-flighted to an ICU burn unit in Dallas.
"Brittany suffered deep burns on her chest and stomach with significant damage to her brain function due to the seizures causing her to lose some of her memory," the suit reads.
Between the time of having the boiling water poured on her and making it to the ICU burn unit, Davis had suffered at least 10 seizures, the suit says.
"C.T. suffered severe burns to her face, chest, legs, arms, and stomach. The burns on her face will cause discoloring and scarring that will forever impact her self-image," the suit states. "When C.T. was released home from the hospital, her mother had to remove all mirrors from the walls, as C.T. could not bear to see her own face. The burns to the rest of her body caused her skin to bubble the size of softballs."
Charges against the defendants include negligence on the part of the two employees, who the suit states had a duty to exercise ordinary care and breached that by failing to protect or consider the well-being of their customers.
The suit also charges negligent hiring, training, retention and supervision on the part of the corporations named in the suit, who the suit says had a duty to hire safe and competent employees, enforce safety policies and procedures, and take action to control their employees to prevent injuries to customers.
This Taco Bell and the surrounding block have a history of criminal activity causing bodily harm to patrons, according to the suit.
"Defendants [North Texas Bells] and [Taco Bell of America] knew or should have known about the criminal history both on their premises and in the surrounding area including criminal activity that resulted in bodily harm," the suit states. "In fact, this same address had multiple reported criminal incidents in the weeks prior to the incident that are in the public record."
In a statement to WFAA, Taco Bell said it was in contact with the franchise owner and operator.
“We take the safety and wellbeing of team members and customers seriously. Taco Bell is in contact with the franchise owner and operator of this restaurant on this matter and cannot comment on specifics of pending litigation," the company said.