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Jury awards ex-Ocean City cop $750,000 for nearly deadly beer

A nearly deadly beer draft will cost a restaurant and beer supplier three-quarters of a million dollars. Former Ocean City Police Lt. Richard Washart sued after suffering physical and emotional injuries from a beer that contained residual clean solution. On Friday, an Atlantic County jury awarded him $750,000 in damages. The retired police officer was out celebrating at McCormick & Schmick’s in Harrah’s Atlantic City, on Nov. 6, 2012, when he ordered a Blue Moon beer. The first had been fine. But the second caused burning and vomiting, according to the suit. It turned out that residue from the agent used to clean the line was left behind. The restaurant blamed Hammonton’s Kramer Beverage Co., which cleans its lines. Kramer denied being there that day. The jury, however, decided both were equally responsible. Harrah’s was not named in the suit. Paul R. D’Amato, the attorney representing Mr. Washart and his wife, Cynthia, said after the verdict, “This unprecedented case was never about anything other than obtaining justice for a dedicated former public servant and his family,” said Paul D’Amato, who represented Washart and his wife, Cynthia. “They consistently rejected settlement offers because it was so important that all the facts of this case be heard by a jury of their peers. Rich and Cindy are grateful for the service of the jurors, the supervision of the Court, and believe justice has been served with this resounding verdict.” Testimony showed Kramer “miserably failed to follow the rules when it came to its responsibility of sanitizing the beer lines,” D’Amato said. “This verdict sends a message to Kramer, and every other non-compliant beverage service company, that sooner or later there will be consequences if you short-cut best practices and put profits over safety.” Washart is still receiving treatment for his internal injuries, which include the erosion of about a quarter of his stomach lining and a burned esophagus. After the first sip, Washart was violently ill, then began throwing up blood, he testified at trial. D’Amato said his team determined that Kramer failed to take the time necessary to purge the highly toxic cleaning solution from the line. “Kramer not only didn’t follow the rules for proper beer-system cleaning, the record shows it tried to conceal its negligence,” D’Amato said. “The company failed to clean the beer lines at the proper interval, and failed to use the required testing materials, including chemical test strips that cost less than a quarter.”

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