Victims of IHOP salmonella outbreak win $1.4M

Rinse the damn syrup containers.

That’s the lesson as victims of a 2008 salmonella outbreak at the International House of Pancakes left a Potter County courtroom with more than $1.4 million in damages.

The jury, which included eight men and four women, deliberated for more than three hours before returning a verdict of $140,000 for each of the 10 plaintiffs.

Dean Boyd, one of the victims’ attorneys, said in closing arguments that the compelling, graphic testimony should be a warning for other Amarillo restaurants to keep their facilities clean.

“Two of the clients seriously came very close to death,” Boyd said. “Others’ injuries were very bad and their tear-filled testimony proved that.”

The case stems from three separate salmonella outbreaks that sickened the restaurant’s patrons, starting in June 2008.

From the first known poisoning case in June to a city health review in September, more than 125 people who ate at the IHOP location were victims of salmonella poisoning, according to court records.

Interviews with IHOP employees revealed the syrup pitchers were not washed or sanitized before they were refilled, according to the initial civil complaint.

During that time, the restaurant closed its doors three times in response to potential salmonella outbreaks. The closures were prompted by a June 2008 city review in which 11 IHOP employees tested positive for the salmonella toxin.

In the last case, which prompted the September 2008 closure, city officials determined the cause was an infected water bath used to warm bottles of syrup.