OMAHA, Neb. – A Sidney police officer and his family have won $40,000 from a restaurant that had served them food tainted by an employee's spit and urine.
In the lawsuit filed last year in Cheyenne County District Court, officer Keith Andrew and his wife said a Taco Bell employee urinated and spit in food served to them and their children in October 2005.
The lawsuit named North Platte-based Mid Plains Food and Lodging, owner of the KFC/Taco Bell.
A KFC spokesman, Rick Maynard, said KFC is committed to the highest levels of food safety.
"Our franchisee does not agree with the court's verdict, and they are looking at their legal options," Maynard said Monday.
The jury verdict was announced Friday.
In the lawsuit, the couple said their two sons, 4 and 7 at the time, took sick after they ate the food. The 4-year-old came "violently ill," the lawsuit said, with gastroenteritis and dehydration. The lawsuit said he vomited for hours and was forced to spend time in a hospital.
Other workers saw what Diedrich did, the lawsuit said, and reported it to management.
But the managers didn't inform the family, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also suggested the family was the victim of a scheme that targeted police officers.
"Employees maintained 'special servings' of food reserved for ... officers," the lawsuit said. "The 'special servings' had been urinated in or spit in by KFC/Taco Bell employees. In fact, defendant's employees maintained a particular serving pan for use in creating 'special servings' of food plus employee urine."
An attorney for the Andrew family, Andy Snyder of Scottsbluff, said the employee who fouled the family's food admitted tainting the food of another officer as well.
Snyder said the verdict did not specify exactly how the jury believed the restaurant was negligent, but managers didn't discipline the worker involved, Casey Diedrich.
Diedrich could not be reached to comment Monday. There was no listing under his name in Nebraska.
In March 2007, Diedrich pleaded guilty to violating the Nebraska Pure Food Act and was fined $100, according to Cheyenne County Court records. The prosecution was for the same incident described in the lawsuit.
In June 2007, a company spokesman said Diedrich was eventually fired for missing work but not for any of the incidents the lawsuit cited.
Snyder said Monday that the restaurant did a poor job of vetting its staff.
"I'd advise them to get a better class of employees," Snyder said.