$6.7 Million for Eating Oysters
TAMPA — June 7, 2018
A jury said that Lobster Haven, located at 12807 W Hillsborough Ave in Tampa Florida, should pay a couple $6.7 million after the restaurant served them a dish that caused food poisoning.
According to court records, Dec. 21, 2013 Angel Martinez and his wife Maria Elena Martinez had dinner at the Tampa restaurant. A few hours after the meal, the couple both experienced severe vomiting and diarrhea. Maria Elena Martinez recovered in a few days, but three weeks later, her husband had to be taken by ambulance to Pasco Regional Medical Center after he collapsed on the floor of his home. Doctors transferred him to Tampa General Hospital, where he spent seven days in the intensive care unit. He was paralyzed from the waist down for several months and had to learn how to walk again. Martinez’s food-borne illness developed into Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes the immune system to attack one’s own body.
Attorneys for the couple, Brent Steinberg, and Brandon Cathey believe that the oysters likely caused the illness.
“He has recovered from the most severe symptoms of the illness, but for the rest of his life he’s going to have pain, sensory problems, weakness, fatigue and other neurological defects," Steinberg said in court.
In 2016 Lobster Haven’s insurance company offered to settle the case for $20,000, but by then Martinez’s medical bills had reached more than $325,000, according to court records.
The restaurant had liability insurance up to $1 million, and the Martinez’ likely would have settled for that amount, the attorney said.
"Now this restaurant may go out of business," he said, because of the greed of its insurance company and the way they handled the deal.
Lobster Haven owner Daniel Hall declined to comment for this story.