Cracker Barrel ordered to pay man $9 million after he was served commercial-grade bleach instead of water, reports say

Accident occurred in Tennessee in April 2014

MARION COUNTY, Tenn. – A Tennessee man has won a nearly 10-year court battle after he was served commercial-grade bleach instead of water but he’s not getting anywhere near the amount he was awarded.

“The jury returned a verdict for compensatory damages of $4.3 million in just 30 minutes -- one of the fastest verdicts we have ever seen — and awarded punitive damages of $5 million after only 10 minutes of additional deliberation,” plaintiff William Cronnon’s attorney Thomas Greer told CNN.

Despite the verdict, Cronnon won’t receive anywhere near the $9 million he was awarded by the jury due to a Tennessee law passed in 2011 that limits economic damages in lawsuits to $750,000.

Greer told NBC the law is unfair and “only protects corporations, insurance companies and hurts people who are seriously injured.”

Cronnon “would take all the money … and throw it in the ocean to go back in time and not have this happen to him,” Greer said.

The incident took place at a Cracker Barrel in April 2014 when Cronnon was served what he thought was water but turned out to be Eco-San or sanitizer mixed with water.

The mistake caused permanent and serious internal physical injury to Cronnon, CNN reported.

Court documents state that Cronnon experienced an immediate “burning sensation in his mouth and esophagus.”

WRCB of Chattanooga published Cracker Barrel’s response to the verdict:

“While we have great respect for the legal process, we are obviously disappointed by and strongly disagree with the jury’s award in this case, which involved an unfortunate and isolated incident that occurred at one of our stores eight years ago. Although we are considering our options with respect to yesterday’s verdict, we are glad that this matter is behind us so that we can better focus on caring for our guests and employees around the country.”

A spokesperson for Cracker Barrel told NBC the company is “considering its options.”

Greer told WRCB that he expects Cracker Barrel to file a motion for a new trial to dispute this verdict, but hopes that isn’t the case.

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.