ST. LOUIS – A St. Charles County man lost an appeal against Syberg’s restaurant last week, after suffering an allergic reaction in 2015 while attending Easter brunch.

Andrew Denney sought $50,000 in damages and court costs, claiming Syberg’s Westport was negligent, committed breach of warranty, and caused him emotional distress over the ordeal.

According to court documents, Denney, who has a seafood allergy, went to the Maryland Heights restaurant on April 5, 2015, for brunch. Syberg’s had separated its shrimp station from other food offerings, and Denney made sure to avoid that table.

While in the buffet line, Denney asked a Syberg’s employee if a particular item contained seafood. The employee identified the item as “cheesy hash brown casserole” and said it did not have seafood in it. However, the item was not hash browns, but rather “crab-stuffed cod.”

After eating some of that food, Denney suffered symptoms of an allergic reaction, including chest pains and a swollen throat. He took anti-allergy medication and felt nauseous. Paramedics arrived and treated Denney with additional anti-allergens. Denney declined to go to the hospital and left to go to a friend’s house.

Denney claimed to have had continued symptoms during the drive, and that he passed out and fell after arriving at his friend’s residence. His friend got home a few hours later and took Denney to a hospital.

A St. Louis County jury determined Denney had suffered $50,000 in damages, but that he was 90% at fault. As a result, the presiding judge awarded Denney just $5,000 in damages. Denney appealed, seeking the full $50,000.

On April 11, 2023, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the St. Louis County Circuit Court’s ruling and $5,000 in damages.

During the appeals process, Denney told the court he did not inform Syberg’s staff that he had a seafood allergy, and that he didn’t read the buffet menu. In a 1959 case, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled the law recognizes “every person has the duty to exercise ordinary care to so conduct himself as not to injure others, and is liable to one who is harmed by a breach of that duty.”

Denney also could not identify the employee who misinformed him about the cod.

Denney further alleged the paramedics injected him with epinephrine and not Benadryl while treating him at the restaurant. However, one of the paramedics testified and produced medical records in court showing Denney was treated with Benadryl. The court ruled Denney did not provide any expert testimony to support his claim.

Denney also claimed the circuit court unfairly denied his motions to strike several individuals from serving on the jury. The appeals court found he only moved to strike two jurors. Denney said those two individuals were biased because one person said they enjoyed dining there, while another made a joke during voir dire about him being drunk. The appeals court ruled both jurors had not acted with bias and nothing they said during questioning prevented them from serving on the jury.