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Oklahoma appeals court rules restaurant not liable for hot gravy

An Oklahoma appeals court ruled Monday that a Whataburger restaurant is not liable for damages after hot gravy spilled on a 7-year-old girl and caused second-degree burns.
by Matt Dinger Published: March 18, 2014
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An Oklahoma appeals court ruled Monday that a Whataburger restaurant is not liable for damages in a lawsuit filed after hot gravy spilled on a 7-year-old girl caused second-degree burns.

The girl’s mother, Jennifer Carey, sued the franchise in Cleveland County District Court in 2010, arguing the restaurant had a duty to warn its patrons about the hot gravy.

The meal containing a styrofoam bowl of hot gravy, which was purchased from a drive-thru window, was handed to the child in the back seat. As Carey drove away from the restaurant, the gravy spilled onto the girl’s leg and caused second-degree burns, court records show.

In April 2013, the court granted summary judgment to the restaurant due to lack of evidence supporting Carey’s claims, court records show.

Carey appealed the summary judgment, but “submitted no evidence from which a jury could find the gravy was dangerous to an extent beyond that contemplated by the ordinary consumer,” according to the opinion issued Monday.

Whataburger’s attorneys submitted portions of Carey’s deposition in which she admitted to eating at the restaurant several times and knowing the gravy was hot when served, the opinion states.

Other members of Carey’s family also ate gravy with their food that day and suffered no adverse consequences, according to court documents.

The manager of the restaurant provided a written statement claiming the temperature of the gravy that day was 145 degrees. It must be maintained at a temperature higher than 140 degrees to prevent bacterial growth, records show.

Carey could not be reached for comment Monday.

by Matt Dinger
Court Reporter
Matt Dinger was born and raised in Oklahoma City. He has worked in OPUBCO's News and Information Center since 2006, and has been assigned to the breaking news desk since its formation in fall 2008. He specializes in crime and police reporting.
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