Fast-food giant KFC has been ordered to pay $8.3m (£5.1m) to the family of an Australian girl left severely brain damaged after being poisoned by a chicken meal.
Monika Samaan fell ill with salmonella poisoning after eating a “Twister” wrap at a KFC restaurant near Sydney in 2005.
The poisoning left her wheelchair-bound and unable to speak.
KFC said it was “deeply disappointed” by the decision and would appeal.
A judge of the Supreme Court of the state of New South Wales awarded the A$8m damages after ruling last week that KFC had breached its duty of care to the girl.
The family’s lawyer, George Vlahakis, said they were relieved by the decision.
“Monika’s severe brain damage and severe disability has already exhausted the very limited resources of the family,” he said.
“Monika is now a big girl and they are finding it increasingly difficult to lift her and to look after her basic needs as well as look after Monika’s younger siblings.
“The compensation ordered is very much needed. KFC have to date been determined that Monika does not receive a cent.”
KFC, which is owned by Yum! Brands, expressed surprise at the judge’s ruling, insisting the evidence did not show it caused Monika’s disability. It has indicated it will appeal.
“We feel deeply for Monika and the Samaan family. However, we also have a responsibility to defend KFC’s reputation as a provider of safe, high-quality food,” a company manager said.
The court was told that Monika was in a coma for six months after she, her parents and brother fell ill with vomiting and diarrhoea after sharing the wrap, the AAP news agency reports. The other family members all recovered.
The family’s lawyer told the court that at busy times, the restaurant would reuse chicken that had been dropped on the floor.