Video released Friday by lawyers representing two customers suing Taco Bell appears to show a person behind the counter of a Dallas store swinging a bucket of steaming liquid at them.
The couple say they suffered severe burns when a store manager poured water on them when they complained about an incomplete order, their lawsuit alleges.
The security video, which has no sound and was released in an edited compilation of cuts and in an unedited hour-long version, appears to show the worker pouring the water as words were exchanged between customers and employees.
The video was provided by the clients̵[ads1]7; legal team, civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Paul A. Grinke, who obtained it through a court order.
“The actions of Taco Bell management and employees in these videos are violent, insensitive and inexcusable,” Grinke said in a statement Friday. “CT and her aunt, Brittany, restaurant workers themselves, calmly ask for the food they’ve paid for with hard-earned money. Instead of just fixing the problem, Taco Bell employees taunt a 16-year-old, and the manager douses them with scalding water.”
The lawsuit, published this week by Crump, alleges that Brittany Davis and a minor identified in the lawsuit as CT were left with permanent skin damage and a lifelong change in their appearance from the incident. CT is Davis’ niece, according to Grinke.
Photos said to show the plaintiffs after the confrontation show large blisters and severe discolouration. The photos were released Friday along with the video.
The lawsuit, which was filed July 13 in a Dallas County district court, alleges that Taco Bell and employees at the restaurant showed gross negligence and misconduct that set off the alleged attack. It is seeking more than $1 million in costs and damages.
In a statement Wednesday, Taco Bell said it takes the safety of workers and customers seriously and has been in contact with the franchise owner and operator described in the case. The company declined to comment further at the time, citing pending litigation, but did respond to a request for a response to the video release.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in Taco Bell restaurants,” the chain said. “We are taking this very seriously and are working with our local franchisee to investigate.”
Taco Bell’s parent company Yum! Brands, and a regional franchisee entity, North Texas Bells, which is also named in the suit, did not respond to earlier requests for comment, nor did they when informed of coverage based on that security video. Taco Bell and North Texas Bells also did not respond to requests seeking comment from two unnamed employees listed on the suit.
The June 17 incident occurred after Davis, CT and another family member received an incorrect order and went through a drive-thru a second and third time to try to get it fixed, according to the lawsuit. When they were unsuccessful, they went up to the locked door and were let into the dining room, the suit said.
After a discussion, the employees refused to correct the order, and a manager, who had not been involved in the conversations, came out and poured a bucket of hot water on the two, rinsing CT’s face and getting the water on both plaintiffs’ chests, the suit said.
Video of the meeting shows CT and Davis hitting water when one of the customers, identified by one of their lawyers as Davis, crosses through an opening in the counter that appears to lead to the kitchen.
CT appears to follow, but they don’t get past the back edge of the counter — and it’s not clear if that was their intention — before the water hits them, the video shows. The view of the couple, including their arms and faces, is obscured by the camera angle.
The pair tried to flee and were briefly stopped by the door locked behind them, but escaped before the manager could return with another bucket of water, the filing claims.
Davis and her niece were rushed to a hospital, and were later transferred to another hospital for further treatment, the lawsuit states.
CT had burns on his face, chest, legs, arms and stomach. Davis also had burns to her chest and abdomen, and suffered damage to brain function, which triggered multiple seizures, according to the lawsuit.
Dallas police have said they are investigating the incident.