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Top NH court upholds $750k judgment for man who ate tainted burger at Concord Applebee's

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 18. 2018 9:04PM

CONCORD — A customer who suffered salmonella after eating a hamburger at the Applebee’s restaurant in Concord deserves the $750,000 that a jury awarded him two years ago, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court sided with Lee resident Brandon Stachulski, 29, who got sick in February 2014 after eating at the Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill on Loudon Road in Concord.

“I’m really happy, amazed, when you think about everything I’ve gone through in the last four years,” Stachulski said Wednesday.

He said he was in the intensive care unit for a week, had to stop working for nearly a year because of uncontrollable bowel movements, and still has to watch what he eats.

An assistant in the marketing department of the New England division of Apple American Group said a spokesman would contact the New Hampshire Union Leader, but no return telephone call was received by the early evening on Wednesday.

Stachulski, his fiancee and his future brother-in-law dined at the restaurant. Stachulski said his burger was medium-rare. His future brother-in-law got sick and was out of work for a few days, he said.

But Stachulski said salmonella took over his body. He was on the toilet dozens of times a day, he said. He suffered kidney failure, liver shutdown and a septic infection.

The Rockingham County jury issued the award in November 2016 after a three-day trial.

In its order, the Supreme Court rejected several challenges filed by lawyers with Apple New England LLC, including an argument that Stachulski should not be eligible for damages to cover future pain and suffering.

At the time of the trial, his medical bills had reached $43,000. But Stachulski had testified that he was subject to embarrassing flare-ups and had to change his diet — no alcohol, soda, sugar, beef, or caffeine, fewer fruits and vegetables.

“The jury had sufficient evidence, from testimony and medial records, to conclude that the plaintiff suffered, and would continue to suffer, pain and residual symptoms from his salmonella illness,” reads the opinion, written by Justice Anna Barbara Hantz Marconi.

Stachulski has said that he has since modified his diet and now eats red meat and drinks moderately. The last time he overdid it, he ended up at the hospital with an emergency colonoscopy, he said.

Stachulski said he expects to get $350,000 once lawyers, doctors and his wife, who eventually divorced him, get their share.

He said his father has terminal cancer, and he wants to take him to Alaska.

“I’ll be able to buy a piece of land, build a home and live comfortably,” said Stachulski, who works as an HVAC technician.

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