Arby’s, manager sued by woman burned with hot grease in ‘shocking and outrageous’ attack

The actions of an Alabama Arby’s manager accused of throwing hot grease on a drive-thru customer are “shocking and outrageous,” according to the victim’s attorneys who have filed a lawsuit against the manager and the restaurant chain.

The lawsuit was filed Monday afternoon in Jefferson County Circuit Court, just 48 hours after police said the 50-year-old manager of the Hueytown Arby’s seriously injured a customer by dousing her with hot grease.

“We’re shocked by the situation,” said attorney Ryan Canon of Morris Bart & Associates. “Certainly, the conduct was very outrageous. We want to bring those responsible to justice.”

Shea Denise Peoples, of Birmingham, is charged with a first-degree assault.

Peoples was booked into the Jefferson County Jail at 3:03 pm Monday and released at 7:44 pm after posting $30,000 bond.

Peoples did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of victim Jameria Hairston, a wife and mother. Hairston suffered second-degree burns and remains at UAB Hospital.

“She’s doing OK. She she’s obviously going to need more treatment, ” Canon said. “The pictures themselves are horrific.”

The incident happened about 3:15 pm Saturday at the Arby’s on the corner of Allison-Bonnett Memorial Drive and Forest Road.

Officers responded to the restaurant on a report of an altercation and arrived to find the drive-thru customer suffering from burns.

Police Chief Mike Yarbrough said the two women got into a verbal dispute over the service in the drive-thru but he didn’t elaborate

“To our knowledge, these women have never met, don’t know each other,” Yarbrough said. “Words were exchanged, and it went downhill.”

He said it appears the manager went to get the grease and then returned, then throwing it on the victim.

The chief said the victim sustained burns to her neck, left arm, and back.

Hueytown Fire and Rescue provided medical treatment and then transported her to UAB Hospital. Hairston’s two children were in the vehicle with her, but they were not injured.

The grease left a scorch mark on the brick below the drive-thru window. The restaurant reopened for business on Monday.

The suit, in part, claims negligence on the part of Arby’s in terms of adequate safety and training programs. It alleges the company’s failure to properly train, monitor, hire and supervise, failure to remedy a known danger, and failure to allow employees sufficient bereavement time, among many complaints.

“We’ve had other people that have called and had the same issues, the same complaints, though obviously not the same actions,” Canon said. “We have concerns about Arby’s policies of how they handle their employees and how they deal with them and the situations they’re putting them in.”

There is reportedly video of the incident, which Canon said was unprovoked by the victim. “There was no rudeness, name calling, yelling or threats,” he said. “There was nothing of that.”

Asked if a video of the incident was available for release, Arby officials said, “Since there is still an active investigation by law enforcement, we have to defer to the local police department to give further details on the incident, including any videos.”

Arby’s has not yet commented on the lawsuit but released this statement Monday about the incident: “The actions of the former employee in Hueytown were reprehensible. We immediately terminated the offender, and we are cooperating with the local authorities in their investigation. Our heart goes out to the guest, and we are working to help support their recovery from her. ”

Canon said they have not yet had any communication from the company in terms of helping with Hairston’s medical treatment and recovery.

“We want to make sure Arby’s is being held fully responsible for their employee doing this,” he said, “that they’re not to try to make their employee the scapegoat and blame them for everything,” he said.

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