Standing near Gary Kidwell’s grieving family, a Boca Raton attorney on Friday said he has solid evidence the 39-year-old Boynton Beach man died in 2015 from salmonella poisoning he got from eating tainted turkey at Boston Market — a claim the restaurant chain denies.
While a spokesman for Boston Market on Thursday challenged the allegations attorney Brandon Labiner made in a lawsuit filed this month in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Labiner produced hospital records and health inspection reports at the Friday press conference to shore up his claims.
Records from Boca Raton Regional Hospital confirmed Kidwell had salmonella poisoning when he was treated there in November 2014. His sister reported to the Palm Beach County Health Department that her brother had recently eaten at a Boston Market on Military Trail west of Boynton Beach, prompting an investigation.
A report shows health inspectors turned up nine violations when they visited the eatery in the Boynton West Shopping Center two weeks after Kidwell’s sister said he ate there. While most were minor and immediately corrected, two of the violations stand out, Labiner said.
The inspectors said they watched an employee fail to wash his hands and observed a sink that was supposed to be used exclusively for hand-washing being used as a “dump sink.” They also noted the “dump sink” situation was a repeat violation.
One of the main ways salmonella is spread is when restaurant workers fail to wash their hands.
A spokesman for the Golden, Colo.-based chain said Thursday that restaurant officials repeatedly asked Labiner for proof of the allegations but none was offered. “Health department inspections prior to and immediately following the alleged incident in 2014 resulted in no follow up by the Health Department and met inspection standards,” the spokesman wrote. “We do not have any other claims related to this Boston Market location during the relevant time period.”
Labiner and his father, fellow attorney Paul Labiner, acknowledged they know of no one else who had been infected on the same day. They declined to comment on how they traced Kidwell’s salmonella poisoning to the restaurant or whether he had any other health problems that could have made him susceptible to the illness, which rarely results in death.
Robin Kidwell, who lives in Sterling, Va., said she misses her son daily and grieves for her three granddaughters who will grow up without their father. Both she and her daughter, Christa MacDonald, said his death haunts them because it was so preventable. “No one should give up their life just to have dinner,” Robin Kidwell said.
The Boston Market spokesman agreed Kidwell’s death was tragic, but denied responsibility. “We intend to vigorously defend ourselves,” he said.
Kidwell died in February 2015, three months after he was infected. He developed salmonella sepsis and underwent several surgeries, Labiner says in the lawsuit. He is seeking an unspecified amount in damages for Kidwell’s three daughters.