KFC to Pay $8.3M to Brain-Damaged Girl in Salmonella Case

Lawsuit determines a KFC worker's mishandling of chicken led to the Australian girl's septic shock and paralysis.

One chicken wrap led to paralysis and brain damage. Is $8M enough to make up for a life destroyed? (Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Apr 30, 2012
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.

What is a fulfilling life worth? $8.3 million, according to a recent ruling in a lawsuit filed against KFC. That's the amount the Yum! Brands fast-food chain will be shelling out after some of its contaminated chicken left a then-seven-year-old Australian girl severely brain damaged and wheelchair bound in 2005.

Monika Samaan, the victim of the salmonella bacteria, ate a "Twister" chicken wrap with her family at KFC seven years ago. After the meal, Monika, her parents, and her brother were all hospitalized. Monika was diagnosed with salmonella encephalopathy, a brain injury linked to food poisoning; it infected her blood and sent her into septic shock. She didn't recover.

Now in her teens, Monika suffers from severe cognitive, motor and speech impairment and spastic quadriplegia, which her family claimed in their suit was caused by the chicken wrap. As Monika has gotten older, caring for her has increased the financial burden on her family.

The family's lawyer said the Samaan's "very limited resources" had been exhausted by the medical expenses and the compensation is "very much needed."

During the trial, Justice Stephen Rothman of the South Wales Supreme Court said the chicken became contaminated because an employee had failed to follow appropriate preparation rules; he described the actions of the employee as "negligent."

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that, though many cases of food contamination go unreported, nearly 76 million people become ill each year from pathogens in food. Of those cases, 5,000 people die.

KFC has stated it will appeal the decision. A representative for Yum! Brands said the company was "deeply disappointed and surprised by the decision."

Do you think KFC's done enough in this case? Do you feel safe eating out at fast-food establishments?

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