Suit against beach restaurant alleges fish contained toxins

Kelly Holleran Jan. 5, 2009, 5:14am

A Beaumont couple has filed suit against Stingaree Restaurant and Katie's Seafood Market, alleging the woman suffered from a serious illness after eating grouper fish at the restaurant.

Donna and Eddie Schroeder visited Stingaree on the Bolivar Peninsula on July 12 and Donna ordered the grouper fish special, according to the complaint filed Dec. 19 in Jefferson County District Court.

The grouper fish was supplied to Stingaree by Katie's Seafood Market of Galveston, the suit states.

According to the complaint, the fish Donna ate was contaminated with a toxin that caused her "to become violently ill, which required Plaintiff to seek emergency medical care at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital."

They allege that eating the fish caused Donna to develop nerve problems, severe weakness, pain, headaches, muscular problems and joint problems.

Since their visit to the restaurant, the Schroeders claim they discovered grouper fish can carry a dangerous toxin that leads to ciguatera disease, a permanent condition that causes people to suffer lifelong nerve problems, respiratory problems, circulatory problems, severe weakness and pain.

Donna claims she has incurred medical costs, physical and mental pain, mental anguish, impairment, loss of enjoyment of life, lost earnings and lost earning capacity, out-of-pocket expenses and attorney's fees.

Eddie claims he has suffered a loss of consortium and loss of services, the suit states.

The Schroeders allege that Katie's Seafood Market and Stingaree were negligent through the following:

  • Failing to inspect the grouper fish;
  • Failing to identify the origin of the grouper fish;
  • Failing to recognize the grouper fish was contaminated;
  • Failing to take steps to protect against placing the fish on the menu and in the stream of commerce; and
  • Failing to implement policies and procedures for protecting against risks associated with the fish.

    In addition, the restaurant and supply company negligently advertised and sold the food without sufficient warnings, failed to take steps to protect Donna from risks associated with the fish and failed to take steps necessary to become familiar with the risks associated with grouper fish, according to the complaint.

    Both Katie's Seafood Market and Stingaree breached their implied warranties when they led consumers to believe the fish was safe for the public when it was not, the suit states.

    The suit alleges that both companies violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act by:

  • Causing confusion or misunderstandings about the approval of the grouper fish;
  • Using deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin of the grouper fish;
  • Representing the grouper fish had approval, characteristics, ingredients or uses it did not have;
  • Representing that the grouper fish was of a particular standard, quality or grade; and
  • Failing to disclose information about goods or services known at the time of the transaction.

    They are seeking actual and consequential pecuniary and nonpecuniary damages, exemplary damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, costs, attorney's fees and all other relief to which they are entitled.

    The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court.

    Case No. E182-891

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