Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Steak N Shake Sues St. Louis Woman Over Viral Facebook Post

Posted By on Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 2:41 PM

click to enlarge FLICKR/KENT KANOUSE

A St. Louis woman who alleged on Facebook that she found "live worms" inside the meat at the Florissant Steak N Shake is being sued by the restaurant's parent company.

Melissa White, a server at the eatery, posted on Facebook on January 5 that she'd discovered wormy meat while cooking a steak patty. She claimed she was then fired for refusing to sell it.

"Just got fired from Steak N Shake in Florissant ... because I found live worms while cooking a steakpatty moving inside of it and refused to sell that meat," White wrote. "Right now they are still selling same meat. #Nooneevenchecked it. I just don't want everyone getting sick. I just got fired for nothing. I have a family this shit is not right I did nothing wrong."


Then she hashtagged Fox-2 news and Elliot — presumably Fox-2's muckraker Elliott "You Paid for It" Davis.



Davis doesn't appear to have bit on the story, but White's post still drew significant attention — more than 36,600 shares.

But, the company says, it simply wasn't true.

As Steak N Shake details in a lawsuit filed today in federal court, White did work at the eatery. But she wasn't fired. More importantly: Steak N Shake says it did, in fact, check the meat, and, far from serving it, got a notice of "no violation" from the county health department.

Within three hours of White's post, it notes, an inspector with the St. Louis County Public Health Department visited the store and issued a written report finding zero violations. The report has been attached to the lawsuit as an exhibit; the restaurant has maintained its "A" rating.

In Steak N Shake's telling, White found the meat while looking for a patty to cook for herself. When she called the district manager to say what she'd found, the company writes, he "promptly arrived" and inspected all the meat he could. The suit says he "found no food safety issues."

However, he wasn't allowed to look at the patty in question — White, the restaurant alleges, wouldn't turn it over. Instead, the suit alleges, she announced she was never coming back to the eatery. When she left, she took the patty with her.

Oh, and on the way out, she apparently told a table full of customers that "there were worms in the burgers," the company alleges. "Those customers left immediately."
Steak n Shake never had the opportunity to inspect the patty that Defendant claimed had worms in it because Defendant was uncooperative and refused to provide it to Steak n Shake management.

To date, Defendant’s Facebook post has received approximately 7,300 “reactions,” and 36,657 “shares.” The false information contained in Defendant’s Facebook post has caused significant reputational and financial harm to Steak n Shake, including but not limited to a substantial decrease in sales at its restaurants.
The company says it reached out to White to demand she take the post down. She did not comply. So, it filed suit today in federal court, alleging defamation and claiming more than $75,000 in damages.

Incidentally, the district manager suggested to the health inspector that what White found in the meat may have been "fat particles," not worms. But when someone posted that along with the report in the comment section of her Facebook post, the company says, it was deleted.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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