Fast-food chain KFC has been ordered to pay $8.3 million in damages to the family of a girl who was left severely brain damaged and in a wheelchair after being poisoned by a chicken meal.
The family of Monika Samaan fell ill after eating a "Twister" chicken wrap at a KFC restaurant near Sydney, Australia on October 24, 2005.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that while Monika, her parents and her brother ended up in hospital with salmonella poisoning, the then seven-year-old was left severely brain damaged and a quadriplegic and unable to speak.
Last week, MSNBC writes that a New South Wales Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of the family, saying KFC had breached its duty of care to the girl.
The trial heard of disturbing hygiene practices at the restaurant.
The family's lawyer told the court that at busy times, the restaurant would reuse chicken that had been dropped on the floor, BBC reported.
On Friday, Justice Stephen Rothman ordered KFC to pay $8 million damages plus legal costs.
KFC will appeal
KFC, which is owned by Yum! Brands, expressed surprise at the judge's ruling, insisting the evidence did not show it caused Monika's disability, according to BBC.
"We feel deeply for Monika and the Samaan family. However, we also have a responsibility to defend KFC's reputation as a provider of safe, high-quality food," a company manager said.
KFC's lawyer, Ian Barker argued during the trial that there "never was a shared Twister" because there was no sales data to prove the family purchased it, reports MSNBC.
"You did not tell anyone at the hospital, when you were there between October 27 and 29, that you had shared a KFC Twister that Monday," Barker said in court in July 2010.
KFC indicated that it will appeal the court's ruling.
"We believe the evidence showed KFC did not cause this tragedy and, after reviewing the judgment and seeking further advice from our lawyers, we have decided to appeal Justice Rothman's decision," the firm said in a statement, according to Fox News.
In a statement, The Herald reports, the family's lawyer George Vlahakis said the family had been very relieved that the battle was over but was now very distressed by the appeal announcement.
"Monika's severe brain damage and severe disability has already exhausted the very limited resources of the family," he said.
"Monika is now a big girl and they are finding it increasingly difficult to lift her and to look after her basic needs as well as look after Monika's younger siblings.
"The compensation ordered is very much needed.
"KFC have to date been determined that Monika does not receive a cent."