This Burger Chain Just Won a Lawsuit That Claimed It Had Fake Worms In Its Food
Popular burger chain Steak 'n Shake was accused of worm-infested food earlier this year. A former employee from a St. Louis suburb, Melissa White, made the claims on social media but is now ordered to pay damages to the chain as a lawsuit found her post libelous.
White's Facebook post, published in early January, read in part: "JUST GOT FIRED FROM STEAK N SHAKE IN FLORISSANT AND LINBERGH ROAD BECAUSE I FOUND LIVE WORMS WHILE COOKING A STEAK PATTY," according to a screenshot shared by Fox. The post includes several images of the meat patty, but they don't depict the worms White was talking about.
The post was soon deleted, but not before it was shared well over 36,000 times and viewed by thousands more. Many people reacting to it expressed outrage and horror and vowed to stop eating at the chain.
However, in a lawsuit filed against White by Steak 'n Shake, the chain stated restaurant managers and a health inspector looked into the issue and found no evidence of worms present in the meat. In the filing, lawyers stated on behalf of the chain "that what White actually saw was fat that rose to the surface of the burger patty when she applied pressure to it".
The former employee must now pay the restaurant chain $80,000 in damages following a ruling made by a federal jury. The restaurant was awarded $70,000 in actual damages, representing business likely lost as a result of the libelous post, and $10,000 in punitive damages against the former employee, according to Madison. White's lawyer stated that the penalties assessed to his client may force her into bankruptcy.
According to Statista, Steak 'n Shake restaurants generated about $344.3 million in 2020. Due to COVID-19 shutdowns, profits were down compared to 2019, when the chain had revenues of $595 million. In 2015, during an earnings high, the company reported revenues topping $805.7 million dollars.
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