In October 2005, seven-year old Monika Samaan collapsed and was
admitted to hospital after having shared a chicken
'Twister' wrap from KFC with other members of her family.
She suffered organ system failure, septic shock, severe brain
damage and spastic quadriplegia resulting from a salmonella
infection. All members of the plaintiff's family, except for
her Grandmother, also suffered from salmonella poisoning although
none so critically as the plaintiff.
The NSW Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the
plaintiff had established, on the balance of probabilities, that
the source of her infection was the KFC Twister.
Based on the expert evidence, the Court found that ingestion of
cooked chicken was most likely the cause of the poisoning. The
Court also found it was possible that four people could contract
salmonella poisoning from sharing the quantity of chicken contained
in a Twister.
The incubation period for salmonella poisoning can be anything
from 6 to 72 hours. The majority of cases occur within 12 to 48
hours, and the most common incubation period is 26 to 30 hours.
The plaintiff's family gave evidence as to what they ate
during the period leading up to their illness. Based on these
histories, the Court identified the Twister as being the only meal
common to each of member of the family who fell ill, within the
In addition, however, the plaintiff had to establish that her
father had purchased a Twister from KFC. Despite KFC's records
being inconsistent with Mr Samaan's alleged order, the Court
nevertheless found that it was probable that he did purchase a
Twister from KFC at the relevant time.
The Court accepted that if KFC's procedures had been
followed, the survival of salmonella cells in the chicken used in
the Twister was impossible. However, there was evidence of
'aberrant behaviour' by staff which meant that it was
likely that there had been cross-contamination of the chicken
pieces after cooking, by contact with flour or other dipping
material used previously on the raw chicken.
The Court accordingly found that KFC, as the employer, was
vicariously liable for the negligence of its staff and awarded the
plaintiff $8 million plus legal costs. KFC has indicated it will
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Liability was apportioned between the VMO, Dr.Brown, and the hospital on an 80/20 basis in favour of the hospital.
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