A federal civil-rights lawsuit filed by an Ohio truck driver against a Pennsylvania Burger King franchise was settled Friday. The trucker had alleged an employee spit into his burger and claimed the incident was racially motivated.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, the Associated Press reported.
Glen Goodwin of Cleveland is a black truck driver who stopped at a Burger King, owned by Fast Food Enterprises #3, along Interstate 90 in Fairvew, Pa., in November 2008. Goodwin ordered a Whopper Jr. The trucker said he saw a white Burger King employee take the wrapped burger from a chute, turn his back, and unwrap the sandwich, the Erie Times-News reported.
Then, Goodwin said, a restaurant manager stood by the employee as though he were attempting to shield the worker from Goodwin's view. The manager said, "Nice," as the employee handled the burger, the Erie Times-News reported Goodwin as saying.
Goodwin subsequently bit into the Whopper Jr. and noticed something wrong.
Police were called to the scene, and, according to a police report, the burger was found to contain saliva. A DNA test was not performed on the saliva sample, and the burger was thrown out following a state trooper's examination, AP reported.
Goodwin later filed a civil-rights lawsuit, claiming the spitting incident was racially motivated, AP said.
Before the settlement was reached, Fast Food Enterprises #3 claimed there was no evidence of the spitting incident and that the lawsuit should be tossed out of court. If anything, the defense argued, the employee who allegedly spit on the burger was not racist but just immature, the Erie Times-News reported.
The judge presiding over the case, U.S. District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin, dismissed the defense's claims and the lawsuit moved forward in court. “There is evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that Caucasian customers at the Burger King restaurant received satisfactory food service while the plaintiff, the only minority person in the restaurant, did not,” the judge wrote in an opinion cited by the Erie-Times News.
A trial of the case had been scheduled to begin Jan. 14. As part of the settlement, a confidentiality clause prohibits Goodwin and the defense from discussing the lawsuit.