Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, August 05, 2016

Personal Responsibility vs Public Reliability -- um -- Public Responsibility vs Personal Reliability? Due Diligence?

"[A conviction would send the needed message] that allergies are serious. It's easy to say, 'Oh, I thought he ordered a salmon tartare'. But what if I had died? My family would have to live with that."
"There's a fear of going to restaurants, a fear that when I go to bed at night, I won't wake up. I hardly sleep any more."
"Even today, restaurants don't take allergies seriously. There are a lot of restaurants who cook their fries in the same oil they fry their shrimp [in]. They are contaminated, and they don't tell customers that."
Simon-Pierre Canuel, 34, Gatineau, Quebec
Simon-Pierre Canuel was hospitalized for several weeks, even falling into a coma for two days and suffering cardiac arrest.
Photo courtesy Simon-Pierre Canuel
"The complainant shows up and from the beginning informs the waiter he has a serious allergy, that there is a danger for him. When the order is being taken, he mentions it again, and orders a beef tartare. He asks the waiter to make a note of the allergy, which is not done. He also asks that the kitchen staff be advised, which is not done either."
"When the order was placed, there was a mistake, and he brought a salmon tartare."
Martin Carrier, spokesman, Sherbrooke police

"Do you really think we would deliberately poison our customers? That makes no sense. We are careful with them."
"Without customers, we have nothing."
Francine LaRochelle, co-owner, Le Trapageur, Sherbrooke, Quebec 
Simon-Pierre Canuel had an allergic reaction to raw salmon served at Le Tapageur in Sherbrooke, Que.
Photo: La Voix de L'est

In May, Simon-Pierre Canuel visited a Sherbrooke restaurant with his partner, a medical resident. When the waiter took their order, Mr. Canuel emphasized to the waiter repeatedly that he had a severe seafood allergy. And he ordered a beef tartare. When the waiter brought the food to their table, Mr. Canuel bit into the tartare and almost immediately began to suffer the effects of a frightful reaction to what turned out to be salmon, not the beef he had ordered. It appears that the waiter had not transmitted the client's urgent message to the kitchen.

Another diner, who happened to be a doctor, and Mr. Canuel's partner began to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation after an ambulance had been called. Mr. Canuel, it transpires, forgot his EpiPen which would have dealt with the reaction when it was in its infancy had he taken it with him and realized what was happening to him. The medical device was left in their car in the restaurant parking lot. Where it obviously did no one any good.

Instead, Mr. Canuel was taken to hospital and there he developed complications that led to cardiac arrest. He was in a coma for two days, recovered, and was released from hospital. This medical emergency was not a high point in his life, nor would it be for anyone. Sherbrooke police investigated the incident after Mr. Canuel decided two months later to file a criminal complaint.

So police investigated Le Tapageur, the restaurant where Mr. Canuel had experienced his unfortunate health crisis, with the help of a search warrant. And then Sherbrooke police arrested the waiter, a 22-year-old man, on suspicion of criminal negligence. According to a spokesman for the police wrapping up the two-week investigation, the investigators reached the conclusion that on the basis of the evidence the arrest was justified.

Mr. Canuel had, after all, delegated his pleasant dining-out experience trustfully to a young man who had failed the test. Mr. Canuel is acutely aware of the frailty of his medical-allergic condition, and sought to convey to another person, a total stranger who is employed in the service industry, how vital it is that he be shielded from consumption of seafood. And the stranger failed the test of his management skills as a service professional.

Mind, Mr. Canuel, the individual whose health was at risk, and knew the risks, failed in the fundamental obligation to himself to take along his EpiPen at a critical time when it might conceivably be needed, leaving himself vulnerable to physical harm. As a personal judgement call, or a personal failure to execute due diligence on his own behalf he was obviously remiss. And in its absence, he delegated the responsibility he had casually abrogated, to a stranger.

Mr. Canuel was not impressed with the service professionalism of the 22-year-old waiter. From the age-perspective of his own 34 years living with a lifestyle disability, one might say he too failed the service to himself. The waiter, reported Mr. Canuel, was busy socializing instead of tending to him and his partner. Informed of his error, the waiter apologized and offered to take the offending salmon back to the kitchen and replace it with beef.

The restaurant owners are none to pleased with this turn of events. Obviously, such establishments are eager to cater to the needs of their clients; their tastes, their preferences, attempting to build a reputation for good food and good service. They too, on this occasion failed the test of catering to the very precise and important needs of this patron. Co-owner Francine LaRochelle herself has a seafood allergy, understanding the dangers involved.

Mr. Canuel does not wish to see the waiter imprisoned, but he is planning to serve a civil suit against the restaurant and the waiter. The restaurant may consider the option of suing him for personal neglect and for defamation harmful to their business.

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