KFC to appeal court order of $8m payout over salmonella poisoning

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 30th April 2012

On 26 April 2012, as reported in Australian Food News, KFC Australia indicated it would appeal a judgment made by Justice Stephen Rothman in the NSW Supreme Court which found KFC to be responsible for causing the salmonella poisoning of a young girl in Sydney in 2005.

Following a four week trial in the NSW Supreme Court in 2010, Justice Stephen Rothman had found in favour of the victim, Monika Samaan, who was paralysed and brain damaged after eating a KFC product. Having judged KFC to be liable, the quantum of the damages payout to the victim’s family was set at $8 million in a separate court order by Justice Rothman last Friday 27 April 2012.

According to Justice Rothman the chicken was contaminated “because of the failure of one or more employees of KFC” to follow preparation and handling rules.

In has judgement Justice Rothman referred to an assessment, conducted at the premises prior to Samaan’s illness, which had criticised the hygiene and food preparation standards.

Justice Rothman had also referred to testimonies by some staff members that they would throw food around as a joke, drop chicken on the ground and handle food without gloves on, in his findings. “

The evidence of mishandling of the chicken provides enough weight, when combined with all of the other evidence, to enable the conclusion to be drawn that it is more likely than not (the product)….became contaminated while it was being handled or made up” the judge said.

Justice Rothman labelled the actions of some KFC employees as “negligent,” although he acknowledged they were not aware of how they could impact consumers. “There is some evidence, which I accept, that some employees were unaware of the full consequences of a breakdown in the system that was to be implemented,” Justice Rothman said in his judgment. “Nevertheless, the conduct of the employee was negligent and KFC, as the employer, is vicariously liable for the negligence” he stated.

KFC has maintained that its appeal against the decision will be on the basis that it has “a responsibility to defend its reputation as a provider of safe, high quality food”.