Woman sues over ‘oven cleaner cure’
A WOMAN who swallowed a spoonful of oven cleaner after allegedly being offered a cure for her hiccups is suing a Gold Coast restaurant for $5 million.
Amanda Merrifield claims she has suffered years of extreme pain, depression and anxiety resulting from the caustic burns to her oesophagus and stomach in 2013.
Ms Merrifield, 44, a Gold Coast lawyer who has been unable to return to work, had just dined at The Point restaurant at Paradise Point on May 10, 2013, when she began having hiccups.
She claims restaurant manager and proprietor Paul Jeynes approached her, saying: "I have a cure for those hiccups and I swear you will never get them again."
Mr Jeynes allegedly went into the kitchen and returned with a "restaurant-sized dessert spoon" containing clear liquid he claimed would cure her hiccups.
When Ms Merrifield asked what it was, Mr Jeynes replied: "I swear it will cure your hiccups, just take it," the claim alleges.
Ms Merrifield swallowed a sodium hydroxide solution, after a kitchen staff member inadvertently filled the spoon with oven cleaner instead of vinegar, it is claimed.
Both liquids had been stored next to each other under a grill plate, the claim says.
Ms Merrifield immediately felt burning in her throat and chest, she tried to drink water but could not swallow it and spat it out, collapsing in "excruciating pain".
After Mr Jeynes allegedly refused a request to call an ambulance, saying Ms Merrifield was overreacting, her work colleague called one and she was taken to a private hospital.
She was then transferred to Gold Coast Hospital's intensive care unit, where she was placed in an induced coma.
Ms Merrifield's claim says she had severe caustic burns to her oesophagus and stomach lining and developed scarring, oesophageal stricture and spasm.
She was unable to swallow and for the next two years she had to use a feeding tube.
She required 80 dilutions of the oesophageal stricture, developed severe pain after insertion of a stent and needed multiple hospitalisations.
Last year her diseased oesophagus was removed and her gastrointestinal tract was reconstructed and she has suffered multiple medical complications.
The restaurant should have ensured the oven cleaner was clearly marked and a patron should not have been offered anything but water to cure hiccups, the claim says.
Restaurant owner Struttura Pty Ltd is yet to respond to the claim filed by Maurice Blackburn on behalf of Ms Merrifield and husband Robert Merrifield, who is claiming $200,000.