Woman claims Don CeSar bartender put liquid nitrogen in drink

A Tampa woman is suing the Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach, claiming she suffered serious burns to her stomach after liquid nitrogen was poured into her drink.

The civil lawsuit was filed Friday in Pinellas County and outlines exactly how Stacey Wagers was injured.  The paperwork says the local mom was at the Maritana Grill last November celebrating her birthday with a friend, and after dinner the pair noticed a nearby table had an interesting dish brought out.

“As the waiter was preparing a dessert they noticed that this desert was smoking and they basically said hey that looks pretty cool, and the waiter came over with the liquid, and they didn’t know what the liquid was, and he drops the liquid into their glasses,” explained Morgan & Morgan Attorney Adam Brum.

According to the suit, after swallowing her drink, Wagers became violently ill.  She ended up in the ICU and was hospitalized for weeks.  We’re told Wager’s stomach was severely burned and part needed to be cut out, and her gallbladder was removed.  Brum says his client has permanent digestive injuries from the scary ordeal.

“Absolutely it’s negligence, I doubt that the server did it on purpose to anyone, but it’s clearly a careless act on his part,” he said.

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Dr. Gene Tulman owns SubZero Nitrogen Ice Cream in St Pete.  He says liquid nitrogen is completely harmless as long as it’s handled and used properly.

“It can make a hole in your esophagus, your stomach if it’s ingested,” he said.  “Any food that’s given to a customer, drink or food, should never contain liquid nitrogen.”

At his shop, they use the liquefied gas to make instant ice-cream made with custom ingredients.

“We freeze them using liquid nitrogen which is extremely cold, It’s stored at negative 321 degrees, once it comes out of those specialized cryogenic pipes, it freezes whatever it touches,” said Tulman.

Last summer, the FDA issued an alert warning people to avoid eating and drinking products with liquid nitrogen added immediately before consumption.  Saying it can cause severe damage to internal organs because of its extremely low temperature.

Dangers, Brum says workers at the Don CeSar should have known.  He plans to find out exactly what policies and procedures were in place for handling and serving liquid nitrogen to guests.

“What we’re seeking is money damages and justice for her for what she’s gone through,” Brum said.  “It’s changed her life, it changed the life of her family.”

FOX 13 News reached out to the Don CeSar about the lawsuit, in a statement the General Manager says they don’t comment on pending litigation.