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Supreme Court upholds $750,000 ruling for man who ate at Concord Applebee’s

Monitor staff
Published: 7/18/2018 6:49:32 PM

A man who got sick after eating a hamburger at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar in Concord will finally receive the $750,000 he was awarded more than year ago as part of a civil lawsuit.

Apple New England LLC lost its appeal Wednesday to the state Supreme Court after the company argued that contact with Brandon Stachulski’s pet lizard or other food sources could have caused his food poisoning instead of Applebee’s food.

A lower court had ruled in favor of Stachulski in January 2017, who lived in Derry at the time.

Stachulski filed a lawsuit against Apple New England after he said a dinner he shared with his wife and brother-in-law in February 2014 left him with ongoing gastrointestinal issues.

Stachulski said he can no longer consume alcohol, sugar, beef, carbonated beverages and many fruits and vegetables without repercussions. He also can’t go hiking or participate in other activities with friends without “fearing embarrassing accidents in the absence of a nearby restroom,” according to court documents.

Stachulski testified that, more than two years after his salmonella illness, he continues to work with physicians and a nutritionist to treat and manage his ongoing gastrointestinal symptoms. He also has to take prescriptions on an ongoing basis to control his symptoms, records said.

Apple New England argued that Stachulski’s pet lizard could have been the cause of his salmonella, but the court found the argument improbable based on the timing of his illness.

Stachulski said he became “violently ill” about six hours after leaving the restaurant, and was diagnosed with salmonella infection four days later.

“The plaintiff submitted sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that the defendant’s restaurant’s hamburger was, more likely than not, the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s salmonella illness,” court documents read.

Apple New England also argued that the $750,000 Stachulski had been awarded was “manifestly exorbitant and plainly excessive” when Stachulski’s medical bills had not exceeded $43,000. The court determined that because of the physical burdens that the illness had caused Stachulski, the compensation was reasonable.

(Leah Willingham can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @LeahMWillingham.)

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