Waiter investigated after salmon tartare left allergic diner in hospital

Waiter investigated after salmon tartare left allergic diner in hospital
The Canadian Press
First posted: Thursday, August 04, 2016 01:11 PM EDT | Updated: Thursday, August 04, 2016 07:23 PM EDT
SHERBROOKE, , Que. -- Police in an eastern Quebec town are investigating a young restaurant employee for alleged criminal negligence over a plate of salmon tartare they say was served to a severely allergic customer who then was hospitalized for weeks.
Sherbrooke police say the man ordered beef tartare at a local restaurant last May and specified numerous times to a waiter that he was allergic to both seafood and salmon.
A short time later, police say a plate of salmon tartare was brought to the table and the patron took a bite, unaware of what he'd been served because the lighting had been dimmed.
Police said the customer, Simon-Pierre Canuel of Gatineau, Que., fell ill and was hospitalized for several weeks, even falling into a coma for two days and suffering cardiac arrest.
Sherbrooke police opened an investigation on July 28 after receiving a formal complaint from Canuel.
In addition to filing a criminal complaint, Canuel says he plans to launch a civil suit.
Martin Carrier of the Sherbrooke Police said Thursday that he realizes the case is unusual.
But Carrier said the definition of criminal negligence in the Criminal Code allows for an arrest if there was carelessness or lack of action to ensure the health and safety of others.
Carrier said the waiter allegedly didn't take any notes and the victim repeatedly warned the staffer about the allergy to ensure there wasn't any cross-contamination in the kitchen.
"He didn't take the time to write down the order, he just wrote tartare without make it clear it was beef tartare," Canuel alleged on 98.5 FM in Montreal.
Police are recommending a criminal negligence charge, but Carrier said it will be up to Quebec's director of criminal and penal prosecutions to determine whether charges will be laid.
Carrier said Thursday that police arrested a 22-year-old and released him on a promise to appear in court at a later date.
They also searched his home on Wednesday in Sherbrooke, about 150 kilometres east of Montreal.
Police have not identified the waiter and the allegations have not been proven.
A CBC report said the complaint was against a waiter at Le Tapageur restaurant. Reached Thursday, the owner of the Le Tapageur refused to comment on the case.
Francine LaRochelle added she wouldn't be making any further comment.
Salmon tartare with red onion is pictured in this file photo. (phbcz/Getty Images)

Waiter investigated after salmon tartare left allergic diner in hospital | Canad
Biting off more than you can chew

By Ed Prutschi
First posted: Saturday, August 06, 2016 03:07 PM EDT | Updated: Saturday, August 06, 2016 06:35 PM EDT
Waiters will be left scrounging tip money for legal fees if one criminal case proceeds against a Sherbrooke, Quebec server.
The 22-year-old waiter delivered a salmon dish to customer, Simon-Pierre Canuel, instead of the beef tartar Canuel had ordered. Though the restaurant quickly offered to correct the innocuous error, it was too late. Canuel, who says he informed the waiter of his severe allergy to salmon and seafood, had already tasted the dish in the “dim lighting” of the restaurant before realizing his mistake.
Having left his EpiPen in his car, Canuel began to experience anaphylactic shock and had difficulty breathing. After being rushed to hospital, Canuel was treated for a severe allergic reaction that he alleges almost killed him and spent several days in a coma.
A complaint was filed and the subsequent police investigation led to the waiter being arrested. Reports indicate he could be charged with criminal negligence — an offence that carries a maximum prison term of ten years in circumstances that resulted in bodily harm.
As mistakes go, sending your patient into a coma and nearly killing him stands a few rungs above over-cooking the filet mignon, but the introduction of criminal liability and a jail sentence for dangerously bad service sets a worrying precedent for our justice system.
The foundation for criminal sanction rests on criminal intent. We already have a robust, though glacially slow, system for civil remedy. The restaurant and its absent-minded waiter have plenty to answer for when it comes to cash compensation for their reckless actions. Importing a standard of negligence into criminal law — as the charge of criminal negligence clearly does — sets up exactly the kind of unjust over-reach demonstrated in this case.
No one can seriously believe that this waiter intended to hospitalize his customer but a criminal court will now be asked to weigh whether he was so recklessly indifferent to Canuel’s serious allergy that he should be found criminally responsible nonetheless. Canuel alleges the waiter took no steps to inform the kitchen of the allergy and was instead seen chatting, laughing, and boozing with other restaurant patrons.
Though this comes perilously close to an accusation of ‘blame the victim,’ the courts would be well-advised to pay more than mere lip service to personal responsibility. A customer who suffers from a life-threatening allergy probably should take a close second look at his restaurant meal before mindlessly chowing down on the functional equivalent of poison. He might even be encouraged to carry his EpiPen into the restaurant rather than leaving it in the car.
In this criminal case, while criminal negligence was on the menu for the main course, there’s enough blame to stick around for dessert.
— Prutschi is a defence lawyer Home | Crimlaw.
Salmon tartare with red onion is pictured in this file photo. (phbcz/Getty Images)

Biting off more than you can chew | Prutschi | Canada | News | Toronto Sun
No criminal charges for Quebec server in salmon tartare affair
First posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 05:04 PM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 05:12 PM EDT
A Quebec server who gave a client salmon tartare instead of beef tartare will not face criminal charges.
Crown spokesman Rene Verret says an investigation has determined there was no criminal conduct.
The incident took place in a Sherbrooke restaurant last May.
Simon-Pierre Canuel, 34, of Gatineau, Que., filed a criminal complaint over the salmon tartare. He said he ordered beef tartare and repeatedly told the server he was severely allergic to seafood.
Canuel has said he left his EpiPen in the car and fell ill after taking a bite of the dish in a dimly lit room in the restaurant.
Canuel was hospitalized and his lawyer, Francois Daigle, said his client fell into a coma for two days and suffered cardiac arrest.
Earlier this month, Daigle said Canuel was being portrayed unfairly as a con in Quebec media.
Daigle took issue with reports his client had previously used his allergy to seafood to seek financial compensation.
He called those allegations false and unsubstantiated.
This is photo of Simon-Pierre Canuel, taken as he was in a coma in hospital after suffering a severe allergic reaction. Last May, a waiter at a Sherbrooke, Que. restaurant gave him salmon tartare instead of the beef he ordered, and now the waiter is under investigation for possible criminal negligence. (Supplied Photo)

No criminal charges for Quebec server in salmon tartare affair | Canada | News |
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