Bar owner fined £20,000 after beer mix-up leaves man fighting for life
A bar owner has been fined £20,000 after a man was left fighting for his life when he was given line cleaner containing caustic soda to drink rather than beer.
Spanish TV producer David Caminal, 48, had to have his oesophagus removed after he drank just a small amount of the fluid when it was served by mistake at the New Conservatory, in the centre of Leeds, in July 2014.
Leeds City Council confirmed that a clear-coloured line cleaner had been put in the beer pipe and this had turned the colour of pale ale due to yeast deposits.
The bar had a practice of turning round beer signs on the pump to indicate the line was being cleaned but a new member of staff was not told of this practice and turned the marker back to its normal position.
A spokesman said: "When Mr Caminal and a colleague ordered a sample, a member of staff poured what they thought was pale ale. Due to yeast deposits in the line, the clear cleaner turns a straw colour and looked similar in colour to the beer taster ordered.
"Mr Caminal ingested the beer line cleaner and immediately reacted to the substance and emergency services were called."
Solicitor Jill Greenfield said her client, Mr Caminal, who lives in Barcelona, was filming a commercial in Leeds when he visited the bar with his clients.
She said that after he swallowed the liquid he immediately suffered excruciating pain and was rushed to intensive care at Leeds Infirmary with severe internal injuries.
His family, who flew in from Spain, was warned that he might not survive.
Mr Caminal was placed in an induced coma for 10 days and then flown back to Barcelona.
Ms Greenfield said it was eventually decided that his oesophagus should be removed and a new organ rebuilt linking into his stomach.
She said her client now finds it very difficult to eat solid food and suffers from a range of related problems which has meant him giving up his career.
Ms Greenfield said: "This is a remarkable and terrible case. It could have been anyone that day. Simply going for a pint of beer has led to tragic consequences.
"My client's life has changed dramatically. His family has also had an extremely stressful time. The simple act of eating is now a real challenge and I would hope that at the very least highlighting this case will mean that others check to ensure that proper safety measures are in place."
Leeds City Council confirmed that TNC Music and Bars Ltd was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge.
Company director Nicholas Bird was fined £20,000 and must pay a £120 victim surcharge.
Total costs of £17,859 will be split equally between the company and its director.
Both pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches.