Though the UC Berkeley community was thrown into a spiral of despair after a hopes of an In-N-Out Burger's new location near campus were dashed, there's one recent grad who's probably happy that the fast food chain is keeping its distance. After all, she says, she was badly injured at the hands of the restaurant, and a staffer allegedly refused to offer her any aid.
In a lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court on Thursday, Hedy Chen, who attended UC Berkeley until last year, says she ordered coffee while in the drive-through of an Oakland In-N-Out in April, 2013. Chen says that an employee handed her an “excessively hot” beverage in a paper cup without a protective sleeve. The cup was so hot, Chen says, that she dropped the beverage, spilling hot coffee onto her abdomen and thighs, and causing her "to suffer excruciating pain".
According to court filings, Chen sustained first and second degree burns, spent three days in the hospital, and has permanent scars as a result of the incident.
In the suit, Chen says she asked an In-N-Out employee to call 911 after the spill, but that the worker refused, saying that she was forbidden to do so because it was against company policy to call 911. Instead, Chen alleges the staffer handed her a bag of ice, which, the lawsuit asserts, is not the proper treatment for burns and can cause scarring.
“It’s amazing that they would refuse to call 911, and then give her ice treatment which makes it worse,” Chen’s lawyer, Kirk Boyd, said in a statement sent to media.
When contacted by the Chron, Arnie Wensinger, an EVP for the Irvine-based burger joint, refused to comment on Chen's suit, but said that “all In-N-Out Burger Associates are authorized to assist our customers and to call 911 in emergency situations.”
Chen's lawsuit, based on legal claims of negligence and failure to come to her aid, asks for financial compensation for the injuries in an amount to be determined by a jury.