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Woman sues hotel after waiter served liquid nitrogen in her drink

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St. Petersburg — A Tampa woman says she was seriously injured last year when a waiter at the Don Cesar Hotel poured liquid nitrogen into her water glass last year and she drank it, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.

Stacey Wagers, 45, contends in the suit that she was at the hotel’s Maritana Grille for a birthday dinner with a friend on Nov. 11, 2018 when she was hurt.

Wagers and her dinner companion had finished eating when they saw a waiter prepare a dessert at a nearby table and pour a liquid on the dessert that made it “smoke,” according to the suit, which was filed by Morgan & Morgan attorney Adam Brum and which contends that the hotel was negligent.

That’s cool, said Wagers’ companion, according to the suit. The waiter poured some of the liquid into their water glasses, and they drank. Within seconds, the suit said, Wagers “became ill and was permanently injured by what is now believed to have been liquid nitrogen.”

The suit seeks more than $15,000 in damages from Host Hotels & Resorts, the Don CeSar Hotel and Carlos Cepero, identified as the director of food and beverage for all the restaurants at the Don CeSar. The Tampa Bay Times on Friday asked representatives of the Don CeSar and Host Hotels, which is based in Bethesda, Md., to respond to the claims, but so far has not received any response.

“She needed to have her gallbladder and part of her stomach removed and has not been able to eat or digest properly since,” Morgan & Morgan communications manager Leslie Miller said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times, although those details are not included in the lawsuit itself. The suit also does not say whether the friend had any reaction after drinking the liquid.

“The Don Cesar is a world-famous hotel, where guests expect to have a safe and enjoyable experience, but Stacey Wagers’ birthday dinner there turned into a nightmare,” Brum said in a statement released through the law firm.

“As a young woman and mother, she will possibly experience pain and discomfort for the rest of her life,” Brum said. “We believe this was entirely preventable had the restaurant not acted recklessly, and we will fight to hold them accountable and make sure it never happens to another guest.”

Check tampabay.com for updates to this developing story. Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com. Follow @Danielson_Times

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