A wine bar has admitted health and safety failings which left an 18-year-old girl in hospital after she drank a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen.
Gaby Scanlon, from Heysham, Lancashire, was celebrating her birthday with friends at Oscar’s Wine Bar and Bistro in Lancaster in October 2012 when she drank the shot Nitro-Jagermeister.
Miss Scanlon, now aged 20, said her stomach began to expand and she was taken to Lancaster Royal Infirmary where a CT scan found a large perforation.
The student spent three weeks in hospital as doctors removed her stomach and connected her oesophagus directly to her small bowel.
Today, Oscar’s Wine Bar Limited pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to one count of failing in the duty of an employer to ensure the safety of persons not in its employment.
Welcoming today’s guilty plea, Patricia Noone, from Slater and Gordon, who is representing the family, said: “Gaby was an ordinary teenager with a bright future in front of her, but what happened on 4th October, 2012, on what was intended as a low-key celebration for her 18th birthday, completely changed her life.
“She now suffers episodes of agonising pain and has been hospitalised several times. She has to avoid certain foods and can no longer enjoy eating, finding it hard to judge when she is full. She can only eat little and often and sometimes has to get up and snack several times during the night.
“She is unable to work full time due to her lack of energy and frequent illness, and understandably, her condition and the knowledge that crippling pain could attack her at any time has left her anxious.
“Gaby is a brave and determined young woman, but there is no doubt that the effect on her has been severe. She has had to watch all her friends go off to university while she struggles to get her life back on track.
“Her hope and ours is that this serves as a warning to all bars and restaurants who must take responsibility for what they are serving to members of the public.
“It’s reasonable to assume that what you are given in a bar or a restaurant is safe and they are legally obliged to make sure that is the case.”
In its plea the company, registered in Swinton, South Yorkshire, admitted it failed to ensure the shot cocktail was safe for customers to consume.
It also failed to ensure there was a safe system in place with adequate controls to prevent customers being exposed to injury from the consumption of such drinks, and it had not made any suitable and sufficient risk assessment.
A verdict of not guilty was recorded against bar employee Matthew Harding, of George Street, Lancaster, who denied failing in his duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of others at work.
His plea was accepted by the Crown.
It had been alleged he presented the Nitro-Jagermeister at the customer’s table when it was still producing cold nitrogen gases and was unsafe to drink.
Oscar’s Wine Bar director Andrew Dunn, of Old Earswick, York, pleaded not guilty to being part of a corporate employer which failed in its duty to ensure the safety of persons not in its employment.
The court heard that the prosecution would offer no evidence against him if a payment of £20,000 towards court costs was made before the sentencing date of the wine bar.
Oscar’s Wine Bar Limited will be sentenced on September 17.